This week we focused on photography and had lectures to understand the mechanics of a DSLR camera. The lecture went into detail on how to shoot in manual mode – adjusting your own shutter speed, aperture and ISO based on what you are photographing and what type of light conditions you are in.
To put our new knowledge to the test, we spent the afternoon aboard Whale Whisperer, one of Marine Dynamics’ whale watching vessels. With the abundance of wildlife in this area, we had plenty of opportunity to photograph marine animals as we encountered humpback dolphins, a mother and calf Southern Right Whale, two Humpback whales, African Penguins and Cape Fur seals.
To get a good photo, you need to stay focused and be quick since nature is unpredictable and you never know when those whales will breach or pop a fluke for you. Below are some of my favourite photos from the trip.
Photography for Scientific Research
There are many research methods that rely on photography for data collection. A couple of methods that rely on photography here at the Marine Dynamics Academy are photogrammetry (which Gary elaborated on in last week’s blog) and Photo Identification.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In science, it’s even more than that… its data! Using the White shark as an example, each shark has a unique pattern of notches on the trailing edge of their dorsal fin. If we can take good quality photos of a shark’s dorsal fin, we can identify exactly which individual we are encountering. After collecting a catalogue of photos, we can analyse how many times a year we saw that individual, compare with photos taken elsewhere to see where that individual has been. Photographs can also be used to monitor growth rates and wound healing.
But what’s the best part about photo identification as a method for scientific research? The fact that it is non-invasive.