When Shooting Tidal Flats, Take to the Ladder

by Owen James Burke


Blacktip sharks hide from their hungry cousins on the flats skirting Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. (Photo: Thomas P. Peschak)

Thomas Peschak’s National Geographic photo editors told him to stop using his zoom so much, and rather, move himself to change perspective. He started crouching more, but he also took their advice to the ladder.

Rather than just crouching, or “getting down like James Brown” as my photography professor used to say, he took to using ladders to alter his point of view. The results are displayed in fantastic efficacy in this photo set from Aldabra in the Seychelles, where smaller blacktip sharks hide from large ones over the sand flats at low tide.


(Photo: Thomas P. Peschak)

While living in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I used to see blacktips swarming just like this over the grassy bonefish flats. They were chasing the bonefish, but also the sea turtles, which would make their way over the reef during high tide. At first, I was scared stiff. My only close interactions with sharks up until that point had been bull sharks, and though I love the animals dearly, I’m also aware that they can easily mistake clumsy, milk-white-fleshed stalks like mine for mullet and croakers, especially in turbid waters. Meanwhile, blacktips in transparent tropical waters are far more aware of our size, and even the larger ones seem to veer away at first sight. I’d love to see them in these gin-clear Seychellois waters.


Read more at NatGeo — OB

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