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Selects  marine photos for the month

We've created this new feature to highlight some of our favorite photographs from over the years, and to give you a quick, easy look into the subject diversity of our photo library. We will update this page regularly, so check back often.

qp72613-D. Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) in front of Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica), Indonesia. Photo Copyright  Brandon Cole. All Rights Reserved qp72613. Photo of Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) schooling in front of purple Magnificent Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica), high resolution digital capture made in North Sulawesi Indonesia. As you may imagine based on its striking looks, this tropical fish species is popular in the worldwide aquarium trade. It is bred successfully in captivity, but is still being captured in the wild. Its native range in the wild is very limited, and its population is now considered threatened as a result of perhaps a 90% decline due to intense collecting. Originally restricted to the Banggai Islands in Indonesia, it now is also found in two other areas off Sulawesi, probably the result of introduction by fish traders in the last decade. I photographed this in Lembeh Strait, 250 miles away, where they seem to be doing very well. In fact, I wonder if they are displacing native species. In 2007 it was proposed to protect this species under CITES, but Indonesia said no.

gm849. dead Spiny Dogfish Shark (Squalus acanthias). Killed in gill net. Very indiscriminate fishing method kills sea birds marine mammals fish turtles etc. Photo Copyright  Brandon Cole. All Rights Reserved

gm849. This dramatic photo shows something all too common- marine life dieing in illegal and/or abandoned fishing gear. Gillnets, longlines, and bottom trawls are just a few of the extraordinarily destructive and indiscriminate fishing techniques which are devastating fish, marine mammals, sea birds, turtles, and of course sharks. Here, a small shark, the Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias), was found dead in a gillnet targeting salmon. Dogfish sharks are in big trouble around the world, heavily fished for "fish and chips". Our library of marine life photography includes photos of many species of sharks, as well as salmon, and of course marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions and otters). Add fish and invertebrates, scuba diving and marine environmental issues, habitats such as mangroves and artificial reefs, and it compromises one of strongest collection of stock rights-managed professional underwater photography to be found on the internet.  

pf0247-D. Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus). Playful juvenile with mouth open. Note lower jaw's teeth still under skin. Copyright  Brandon Cole. tel: 509-535-3489

pf0247-D. The largest carnivore on the planet, sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) grow to some 60 feet long and are the largest of the toothed whales. This is Moby Dick, and he feeds in deep water primarily on the giant squid. Though we have not yet been lucky enough to encounter this tentacled monster, we have devoted considerable time to working with sperm whales, photographing them in the Azores islands off Portugal, New Zealand's South Island near Kaikoura, and off Dominica in the Caribbean. Our pictures of the "cachalote" include rare and dramatic underwater images such as this, and topside portraits too. I personally think that a sperm whale's tail flukes, powerfully lifted high into the air as it begins a deep feeding dive, is one of nature's masterpieces of art, perfectly sculpted. As a full-time professional photographer specializing in oceans worldwide, our photos are published globally in all media from the most prestigious magazines such as The National Geographic, to children's textbooks; in advertising campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, to web sites for small whale-watching companies; and just about everything in between.

Photo me49. Leafy Sea Dragon (Phycodurus eques), vertical high res digital file available for licensing. Contact Brandon Cole for details.

me49. This vertical image features one of the most unusual life forms beneath the waves, a fish called the Leafy Sea Dragon (Phycodurus eques). It's a big cousin to the seahorse, and it lives only in the cool temperate waters along South Australia's coast. This species is a master of camouflage, capable of blending into its leafy, weedy surroundings. Even accomplished critter spotting scuba divers can have trouble spotting them, for their movements mimic the swaying algae gardens they call home, and the leafy branching skin flaps covering their body complete the disguise. We encountered this foot long beauty off Kangaroo Island, one of the best spots to find them. With its alien appearance and magical appeal, the leafy sea dragon is a star attraction in aquariums worldwide. 

nu72655-D. Golden Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera steindachneri) swimming in mangroves, Galapagos Islands. Photo by Brandon Cole Copyright 2004.

nu72655-D. Mangroves are important nurseries for marine life. While on assignment in the Galapagos Islands 600 miles off Ecuador, we explored this interesting shallow water ecosystem to find birds, schools of fish, sea turtles, and juvenile sharks and this group of Golden Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera steindachneri). Only two feet across from wing tip to wing tip, a school of one hundred or more leisurely cruised through the channels. We would later find the adults, approximately five feet across, while scuba diving at Gordon Rocks. Mangroves are disappearing around the world, as man mows them down to build ocean front condos and hotels, shrimp ponds (aquaculture facilities), and desalination plants.  In the Galapagos National Park, the mangroves are protected and teem with wildlife. Other places, not so.

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