From the Department of Awesome Animal Encounters come these intense photos taken by diver and underwater photographer Daniel Botelho, who has made it his goal to demonstrate that great white sharks are not the man-eaters that everyone assumes them to be. Not only that, he says that it is possible to safely dive around the incredible creatures outside of a safety cage. Amazing? Yes. Misguided? Possibly. Whatever you think of it, the photos, in which divers are hanging out with an 18-foot-long female great white shark, are literally quite awesome. In the top photo one of the divers even appears to be touching the shark’s right pectoral fin. 

Thus far Daniel Botelho has logged 24-hours of diving time outside of a cage in the presence of great white sharks and insists that he has never been bitten:

“The movie Jaws created an over-reaction which led to sharks becoming misunderstood,” said Daniel. “They are predators for sure, mostly attacking by ambush, but they are not man-killers. I’ve been in the water during 24 logged-hours diving out of the cage and no shark came to me thinking I was snack. Through my pictures I wanted to show people that it’s possible to dive safely with great white sharks.”

Daniel acknowledges that great white sharks are indeed top-predators, but says they very rarely regard humans as food:

“He explained the key to safely diving with this notorious shark was to remain relaxed, keep eye-contact with the shark and hold one’s ground no matter how close the shark swims to the diver.”

We don’t know about you, but this story reminds us strongly of ill-fated bear-lover Timothy Treadwell, about whom the documentary Grizzly Man was made by Werner Herzog. Let’s hope Daniel doesn’t suffer a similar fate. We think sharks are truly awesome, but we also prefer to give them plenty of personal space in their watery domain, so then no one has to worry about holding their respective ground. The only time we’re actually prepared to get really close to a shark is while we’re drinking our morning coffee.

[via Dailymail.co.uk]

Two years later, alien-like sea creature gains Internet stardom

By: Pete Thomas, GrindTV.com

Among the more bizarre-looking visitors to California waters this summer are Mola molas, or ocean sunfish, which are being seen in unusually high numbers. But it’s a stunning photograph of one of these gentle giants that appears to be getting the most attention. The image, captured off San Diego by Daniel Botelho, became an instant hit after being posted last week on his Facebook page.

“It got 1,000 ‘likes’ in 36 hours,” said Botelho, an award-winning photojournalist who specializes in underwater photography. Through Monday the number of likes and shares beneath had grown to 1,375 and 1,237, respectively.

There was no back story provided but Botelho, when reached via email, explained that he captured this image in July of 2010, while on a blue whale photography mission. But he somehow placed it in a folder of non-used images and did not discover it until recently, while planning another blue whale odyssey.

The Facebook post was the first time the image had been published. “It is so funny, I wasted that image and after two years I found it, posted it, and it becomes viral,” Botelho said.

Though molas are docile and appear sluggish, they’re difficult to photograph because they’re deceivingly swift and do not generally tolerate divers who try to get close.

“There were more than five in the same spot but once I got in the water, as stealthily as I could, they all went out fast,” Botelho explained. “But one specific fish stopped to check what I was, and God knows why the fish decided to follow me. People in the boat said it seemed like a dog following his owner.”

The photographer in the image had hoped to photograph Botelho next to the sunfish but instead he became the subject to lend perspective as to how large and moon-like molas can be.

The sunfish can measure 14 feet and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. They’re found in tropical and temperate oceans. With their large bodies, truncated tails, tiny mouths, and huge eyes, they look like something not entirely whole and not of this world.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, in a species description, states: “Ocean sunfish, or molas, look like the invention of a mad scientist.”

They feed primarily on jellies but will also eat squid and small fish. Large numbers of jellies and gelatinous creatures called salps this summer may help to explain an increase in sightings made by California boaters.

– Image is courtesy of Daniel Botelho for use with this story only, and is protected by copyright laws

-From Grindtv and Yahoo News


Jaws movie was so wrong, this is me face to face with a great white shark, during my last assignment. I’ve been out of the cage during 24 hours along the past two weeks, taking photos and working as safety diver for my dear brother Amos Nachoum. Great whites are misunderstood animals, they are predators, but not a psychopath man killer. 


A Photographer’s Fearless Encounter With a Great White Shark

Photographer Daniel Botelho is one brave guy. His fearlessness paired with a fascination for animals has led to him capturing some truly incredible photographs. Recently Botelho travelled to Mexico where he photographed great white sharks without any cage protection. The images he captured are sure to make your jaw drop.



Meet the first Narwhal ever photographed this close. 

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According to Daniel Botelho, the diver in this photograph

“In order to get the whales relaxed, I spent three hours in a row in this water,” Botelho said. “But my face was uncovered and I had ice-burn blisters. After three hours the expedition leader called me back because we needed to get back to camp, and when I started to move a female narwhal came straight to me, bumped my leg, and started to follow me.

She followed me until the time I left the water, and people around me were amazed, including the [native] Inuits. They are very mystic with narwhals and they know how shy they are, so having a narwhal touching me was like magical to them … I cried.”

Little is known about the Narwhals because they are extremely shy creatures. One thing that stands out about them are their extremely long horns or tusks on their heads that can grow up to 9 feet long. There are still a lot of things we can discover about these gentle giants. 

To learn more about Daniel Botelho’s journey click here.