Mother Ocean Day 2017 - We Talked To Underwater Photographer Dan Bolt!

Mother Ocean Day 2017 - We Talked To Underwater Photographer Dan Bolt!

Posted by Connor Whelan on May 10, 2017

Every year the 10th May marks a fairly unknown but very important holiday in the calendar. It plays host to Mother Ocean Day and it gives us the chance to pay closer attention to one of nature’s most powerful and diverse ecosystems, the world’s oceans. To celebrate the day we wanted to learn a little more about some of the incredible wildlife that can be found just off of our shores here in the UK. To do this we spoke with underwater photographer Dan Bolt who is lucky enough to spend his time beneath the waves in some of the world’s most incredible locations, taking pictures of the curious and colourful things he finds in the sea. Dan has shared with us some of his most memorable pictures from his time spent in UK waters and he took the time to tell us a little more about each, so let’s take a look at this incredible underwater world!

“Catshark Supernova”

Shark Embryo

One of the UK’s smaller shark species is the small spotted catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula). These perfectly formed sharks grow up to 1m in length and can be found all-round the UK’s coastline. They reproduce by laying an egg – commonly known as a mermaid’s purse – onto a strong piece of seaweed. The egg is tied to the weed where the young shark will mature inside the egg, living and growing while feeding from a yolk sack, for up to 11 months. This image shows the normally hidden baby shark by shining a light through the opaque egg. I love this shot because can clearly see the young shark inside, a sight normally hidden from view.

“Friend Or Foe?”

Crab on fish eggs

Last year I had the great fortune to spend some weeks studying the nest site of a Lumpsucker (Cyclopterus lumpus). It was a joy to spend time with the male guarding his eggs, carefully keeping them clean and oxygenated, while letting me get close enough to witness his hatchlings growing week by week. I was initially alarmed to find this Long Clawed Porcelain Crab (Pisidia longicornis) crawling over the eggs, but soon realised that it was being tolerated by the adult. Seemingly it was actually eating the algae growing on the eggs and in its own way helping to keep them clean and viable.

“Future’s Fight”

Cuttlefish

In the spring and early summer, large numbers of Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) gather in some shallow bays around the UK to pair, mate and lay the eggs of the next generation. Some of the larger males can be up to 50cm and once paired will aggressively defend their partner from usurping smaller, younger males also looking to sow their seed. It is an enormous pleasure to watch this spectacular event unfold in front of one’s eyes. This brief moment of aggression belies their tender nature, where the male will gently encourage the female to lay eggs, and reassure her all is well while she is going through the laying procedure.

“The Colour Of Life”

Coral Underwater

This image of a reef in the western Highlands to me sums up just how amazing UK marine eco-systems can be. On this wall of rock, ravaged by strong tidal currents twice a day, there is a seemingly endless variety of shape, form, texture and colour to be seen. All framed in the beautiful turquoise waters backlit by an autumn sun. I have been diving this site for many years, and never cease to be fascinated by the density of creatures to be found here. It is definitely a case of the more you look the more you see.

“Colour In The Dark”

Sea Slug

I am a huge fan of the UK’s population of sea slugs, or to give them their proper name “Nudibranch”. Not to be confused with their land-based cousins; these critters are a wonderfully varies and colourful part of every single marine habitat. Ranging from just a few millimetres to nearly 25cm, they take on an endless array of disguises, camouflage and even bright, garish displays of colour. This individual is from the “Eubranchus ferrani” species, and is about 15mm long. Shot on a dark winter’s morning the firework-like explosion of colour certainly brightened up this dive!

“Seal Sunrise”

UK Seal

The UK is home to nearly 50% of the world’s Grey Seal population (Halichoerus grypus) and as such has some great spots for getting very close to these fish-eating mammals. One such site is the island of Lundy off the north Devon coast. It doesn’t have the largest population of seals to be found, but they are very used to seeing divers & snorkelers and will eventually accept your presence in the water allowing you to see some of their underwater shenanigans. This one was playing in the water just a few feet in front of me and allowed me to grab this sunburst effect using the early-morning sunshine.

Dan’s pictures show off just a small amount of the incredible wildlife that can be found in UK waters, and if you want to check out more of his work you can find some incredible pictures on his website www.underwaterpics.co.uk and even more on his Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/danboltphoto/ . These images show why we should be celebrating all of the life that is harboured by Mother Ocean, and all we ask is that you share this blog with friends and family to raise awareness of this day! If you’ve been inspired to explore a little more beneath the waves then why not check out our marine conservation projects and volunteer with some incredible marine wildlife?


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