Mark Etter Underwater Photography: Blog en-us (C) Mark Etter Underwater Photography (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:20:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:20:00 GMT Mark Etter Underwater Photography: Blog 80 120 North Carolina Sharks and Wrecks

This spring I joined Mike Gerken for the 4th annual North Carolina Shark and Wreck Shootout in Morehead City, NC. We were blessed with fantastic weather for photographing sharks and shipwrecks.  The picture above is a sand tiger shark that was leaving the wreck of the Aeolus as I was entering. We met head-on in the darkness. There can be more than 2 dozen sharks on this wreck. The site allows close up encounters of sharks while inside the wreck as seen below.


These sharks are actually quite docile despite their looks. They can be quite curious at times and will cautiously approach divers if not threatened. Sometimes they like to sneak up from behind! Mike has removed fishing lures from their mouths on occasion. I like my fingers on my hands so I'll stick to taking pictures.

Olympus Dive Center is a great organization and provides fantastic trips out to see many of the wrecks in NC. They have 2 spacious boats. The picture below is the smaller Midnight Express. I was on the Olympus this year. There is space for multiple cameras as well as benches inside that are great for sleeping on the way to dive sites.

We had beautiful blue water for dives on the U352, Papoose, and the Shurz. The visibility was 100' for all 3 dives. These pictures below are not edited for color or clarity. Visibility on the Carib Sea and Atlas was not as good and the water was green. The submarine was stunning. It is no longer possible to enter the sub which is probably good.

The wreck of the Papoose was fantastic. The wreck is upside down at 105'. Thousands of fish fill the inside of the wreck, making navigation tricky at times. As I entered from the side of the wreck I was surrounded by hundreds of fish

Inside the wreck is thrilling. It was difficult to find my buddy through all the fish. At times like this It's good to remember that you are below 100 feet inside a shipwreck.

The picture below was looking up the anchor line at the stern. I was well into deco but I really didn't want to go up yet. Can't wait for the next dive in NC!

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) mark etter north carolina olympus diving sand tigers scuba diving sharks ship wrecks underwater photography Mon, 31 Jul 2017 00:08:58 GMT
Dominica Reefs This January went spent a week diving in Scott's Head Bay, Dominica. I was amazed to see healthy coral reefs in the Caribbean. I counted more than 3 dozen species of sponges over 6 days. The black volcanic sand provided a great habitat for macro subjects as well. The picture below shows how many sponges can be found clustered together on the reef.

I especially wanted to find and photograph a batfish as I had never seen one before. I spent a late afternoon searching the shallow waters off the pier at the Fort Young Hotel. Near the end of the dive, a shortnose batfish came along in the sand and allowed close up shots without leaving.

There are impressive geographic reef formations in Dominica. The shot below is from Scott's Head Point. The shallow reef splits open to deeper water and allows exploration of a dramatic overhanging wall covered in coral and sea fans.

Dominica is a volcanic island and has multiple hot springs above and below the water. The photo below is from a site called Champaign. Hot gases escaping from below the seabed provide a warm bubble bath at the end of a great dive.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) dominca lancaster scuba mark etter scuba diving underwater photography Sun, 30 Jul 2017 23:13:37 GMT
Holy Critters and Cuttlefish Coitus Batman! I was witness to the crimes of passion of two dwarf cuttlefish in Gangga recently on a 4 day extension from Raja Ampat in North Sulawesi. Dwarf cuttlefish are usually hard to spot, however, these two were clearly preoccupied with their mating ritual and didn't mind the paparazzi. I thought the one cuttlefish was acting rather strange as she struck a flirtatious pose right in front of me. Multiple color changes ensued until the male made his move. They paid no attention to my macro focus port as I captured multiple images of their dance. Perhaps they saw their reflection in my camera lens.

I felt somewhat guilty as the two cuttlefish continued. They were turning pale and their texture became smooth.

A wrestling match followed with more rapid color changes. The male's skin changed to show more bristles.

When it was over, they both appeared to be blushing with a brilliant bright red display.


]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Dwarf Cuttlefish Gangga Mark Etter North Sulawesi scuba diving underwater photography Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:04:50 GMT
Relaxing with Crush in Maui Whoaa man we totally spent some quality time hanging out with the turtles in Maui this spring.  These dudes rocked!  And they were big too. It took awhile for the kids to warm up to them. I guess they were little intimidated at first.


This was my daughters first encounter with Hawaiian sea turtles. Righteous!  Clear blue water and no waves this week helped to keep everything calm and relaxing. The humpbacks were in town too.  We could hear them on our dives in Lanai and Molokai.


I took my son Michael diving on his 16th birthday to see the Cathedrals in Lanai. Too bad he ate ribs for breakfast but it helped to encourage the wildlife below. Lahaina Divers did a great job with these trips. Once a week they schedule a trip to Molokai to see hammerhead sharks. The dive is for advanced divers and requires a "live" drop off at the site. 

There were 3 scalloped hammerheads that day but they were quite shy and didn't approach the divers. I wasn't able to get many pictures but it was still great to see them from about 40-50 feet away.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Lahaina Divers Mark Etter Maui hammerhead scuba scuba diving sharks turtles underwater photography Sun, 13 Nov 2016 01:29:05 GMT
White Sharks Galore I traveled to Guadalupe, Mexico this fall for a fantastic expedition on the Nautilus Belle Amie to see one of the largest populations of great white sharks. We were treated to perfect weather and multiple sharks each day. The boat runs a very professional excursion out of Ensenada to the Island of Guadalupe. We spent 3 days with these wonderful animals watching them circling our cages. The boat is well equipped for this trip with 5 separate cages. There were 3 deep cages at 30 feet and 2 surface cages on the stern. I spent 5-6 hours each day in the water from sunrise until sunset. The rotating schedule allowed for very flexible shifts between shallow and deep encounters. 

The picture above was from 6:45 am our first morning. We were enjoying coffee and getting ready to make our first entrance into the 72 degree, vividly blue water when this shark breached and gave us a spectacular welcome. Down below the surface there were 5 sharks circling the cages as we made our first encounters with these large swimming predators. The sharks were more curious than ferocious and often circled the cages with interest. It was very easy to establish eye contact at close range.

The surface cages allowed close observation of white sharks in action. They have incredible speed and are exceedingly well camouflaged for their environment. The grey color on their dorsal side keeps the sharks hidden until they are very close. These sharks are very crafty and can easily sneak up from any angle. Photographing them requires some vigilance as they seem to work in teams to catch you off guard. It's best not to hang too far out of the cage! The most breath taking experience on this trip occurred at the surface. The picture below was from the first morning in a surface cage on the starboard side. This shark was incredibly strong and relentless. It was truly memorable to witness an animal this large from only 10 feet way.

The picture below is courtesy of Nicole Young. As you can see, the sharks can get quite close. By the way, that's me in the corner with the camera. Some of the photos were taken with a 15mm fisheye to allow close working distances.


I will be posting video from this trip sometime in the near future. These animals are very graceful and athletic. Video captures their movement in a way that is hard to see by still photography alone.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Carcharodon carcharias Guadalupe Mark Etter Nautilus Belle Amie great white sharks scuba diving underwater photography white sharks Mon, 31 Oct 2016 01:04:47 GMT
Return to Truk/Going deep on the San Francisco

Last week I returned to Truk Lagoon for another adventure on the Truk Odyssey. I was treated to a private tour of the San Francisco Maru with Captain James as we explored cargo holds 1 and 2 as well as three Japanese tanks on the forward deck. It was just as exciting as my first dive there in 2007. This time we started at the bow and circled the 3 inch bow gun before entering hold #1. See the video frame below. The barrel of the gun was covered with colorfully encrusted coral.

​Cargo hold #1 was full of stacked hemispherical land mines as seen below. Their wooden dividers are visibly rotten making these explosives somewhat precarious. I would not want to knock them over.

As we moved forward, a dark passageway lead to hold #2.  At 180 feet deep multiple 800 kg bombs appeared in the darkness.  Their wooden boxes were quickly disintegrating on the silty bottom.

 We ascended to the first deck above to find 2 old Isuzu trucks facing forward in the darkness. The space around these vehicles was quite cramped and I needed to back against the wall to capture a wide angle image. 

Ascending out of hold #2 the first of three light Japanese type 95 tanks became visible on the port side.  Two more tanks were scattered on the starboard side precariously close to falling off the deck and down to the sand more than 220 feet below.

We circled the 2 starboard tanks before returning to the bow gun and then rose to the top of the king mast at 100 feet to perform a deep stop.  Overall, we spent 18 minutes at the bottom before ascending to 12 feet to complete our 22 minute decompression obligation. 50% oxygen helped speed our decompression at the bar beneath the Odyssey. The dive went very smoothly with ample time to explore the front section of the ship. My thanks to Captain James for a great dive!

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Chuuk Mark Etter Micronesia Odyssey San Francisco Maru Truk Truk Lagoon Truk Odyssey lancaster Scuba scuba diving underwater photography wreck diving Sat, 02 Jul 2016 03:14:23 GMT
Retro Raja. ​I have finally started to work on video from both Raja Ampat trips in 2014 and 2015. Stay tuned for more short videos.  The colors at this location (Batu Kecil) were amazing. I used simple white balance with no filter to try to get the color as accurate as possible. These are frozen clips obtained with a Canon HF G20 in a Bluefin housing with no lights. Video allows better color representation than still photography due to an even balance between foreground and background.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Batu Kecil Indonesia Mark Etter Matan Island Pindito Raja Ampat coral triangle scuba diving underwater photography Sun, 24 Apr 2016 03:52:13 GMT
Socorro I just returned from Socorro on a trip on the fabulous Nautilus Explorer.  I will be posting pictures over the next few weeks from the trip. There were great encounters with mantas! The black manta below was captured with a 15 mm Sigma fisheye lens and very close proximity! These mantas were playful and incredibly tame. It took time to learn how to interact. I found it was better to establish eye contact with the manta first before photographing. Likewise, they continued to circle closely when I took only one or 2 pictures at a time. In these instances, I quickly reestablished eye contact after shooting. The picture above is a great example of establishing and maintaining eye contact throughout the encounter. As seen below, the mantas also enjoyed divers swimming underneath, perhaps because of the "bubble bath" that seemed to tickle their belly. Here Dave can be seen doing the same.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Mark Etter Nautilus Explorer Roca Partida Scuba diving Socorro Underwater Photography manta manta rays Mon, 29 Feb 2016 03:49:40 GMT
Murrells Inlet, SC I recently returned from Murrells Inlet, SC.  We dove on the Hebe, a 250 foot freighter that sank in 1942 after colliding with the St. Cathan.  The accident occurred at night while sailing with all lights off to avoid U-boats.  The wreck lies at 110 feet and is great dive for both artifacts and marine life.  I came to photograph frogfish that I was told about from previous trips. The wreck is so full of fish that it can be difficult to navigate at times. There was more than one frogfish on the wreck.  The yellow one above was larger and right next to the anchor line.  The brown one below was harder to find. ​There were multiple toad fish as well. One seemed to be interested in the brass clip on my camera. See below.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Hebe Mark Etter Murrells Inlet frogfish lancaster Scuba underwater photography Mon, 15 Jun 2015 02:34:11 GMT
Ambon Better late than never.  I've posted pictures from Ambon from 2014.  We spent a few days in Ambon after finishing our 12 day journey on the Pindito. These pictures were taken while staying with Maluku Divers.  There were so may critters that it took awhile to weed through my collection of odd creatures hiding in the muck. The crab above was trying to hide under a Bintang beer bottle cap- truly the essence of muck diving in Indonesia! The gallery is a bit long but it was hard to exclude some of the cool stuff.  The time with Maluku was short, only 3 days, and there were many species that I never got a chance to see. Next time I'll spend at least 5 days there as the location was great and the accommodations were very nice.   Maluku Divers was an excellent resort for UW photography and had an amazing camera room. The rooms were clean and new and the food was great. Ambon has become a must for macrophotography and the staff at Maluku were excellent.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) ambon indonesia lancaster scuba maluku maluku divers mark etter murrells inlet underwater photography Sun, 10 May 2015 16:38:19 GMT
Little Cayman 2015 I just posted pictures from Little Cayman.  This gallery contains pictures that were taken with Temple Underwater Medicine in January, 2015.  We were lucky to dive the Bloody Bay Wall on most of the days.  The wall diving was spectacular and we were lucky to find Leopard flatworms and also a fingerprint cyphoma.  It was great company all week with the folks from TUUM as well as excellent dive guides including Sharon, Natalie, and Ben.  Feel free to float through the gallery.  I have also posted a book from the week as well. The book contains most of the pictures from the gallery and can be viewed by either clicking on the link in the book menu or at the following site: The resort is quaint and relaxing. The dive sites are nearby and the water is often crystal clear. We had a great week and I always enjoy a quiet week in LC.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Cayman Fingerprint Leopard Little Little Cayman Mark Etter barracuda cyphoma flatworm scuba diving underwater photography Mon, 23 Mar 2015 00:52:29 GMT
Raja Ampat New photos from my trip from Sarong through Raja Ampat, the Banda Sea, and Ambon.  The trip was from April 2014 on the Pindito and included stops in Misool, Bandaneira and Ambon.

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Indonesia Mark Etter Pindito Raja Ampat scuba diving underwater photography Tue, 20 Jan 2015 01:27:17 GMT
Dive Videos I have been steadily working on new video material from North Carolina, Hawaii, and the Maldives.  My back log also includes Raja Ampat and Komodo.  Yes, there's still some video from Lembeh and Bunaken that still hasn't been finished too.  Oh well.  Keep posted. As seen above, the sand tiger sharks don't mind getting close.  This is a video clip moments for this large female nearly hit my wide angle dome port. 

]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Mark Etter North Carolina Olympus Dive Center scuba diving underwater photography Fri, 19 Sep 2014 03:17:40 GMT
Mark Etter Underwater Photography

I added a blog page to help share pictures and information from dive trips.  Please feel free to comment or share pictures, links, galleries, etc.


]]> (Mark Etter Underwater Photography) Bonaire Komodo Lancaster Scuba Center Lembeh Mark Etter Mark Etter UWP Mark Etter Underwater Photogrphy Red Sea St Lucia Underwater Photography scuba diving underwater photography Mon, 05 Aug 2013 19:49:05 GMT