National Geographic’s underwater photographer Brian Skerry explored the vibrant waters of Cortes Bank and prepare for the majestic beauty of ocean’s world.
“For me, diving in Cortes Bank is like diving into an underwater kaleidoscope,” says Skerry. “It is this fanciful, almost surreal place where green grass sways in a wavelike formation, and what appear to be palm trees are growing out of the seafloor. You’ve got bat rays and stingrays that are feeding down in that surf grass with dolphins overhead. It really is like swimming through the pages of a storybook in a ‘Seuss-ical’ sort of way, and with every dive you’re meeting this fascinating cast of characters. It’s really quite stunning and unlike anything else I’ve seen.”
“Being an underwater photographer is quite different than the work that my terrestrial counterparts do. I can’t go to a remote place, sit in a blind for a month and use 600 mm lens while waiting for an elusive animal to wander by and make those pictures,” says Skerry. “All nature photography is very difficult and has its own unique challenges, but I can only stay underwater as long as the air supply on my back will last. I have to get very close to my subjects, even in the places where the water is the clearest I usually have to make pictures within a couple of meters of my subjects. I have to be able to light them and that is really a testimony to the animals that allow me into their world.”