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Riccardo A. Andreoli

ENCOUNTERS

SHARKS

Like anyone diving around the world I have seen, and been pissed off by a lot of sharks. A couple of times, however, I've been lucky enough to see and marvel at some extraordinary shark.
The first was an amazing, large, powerful White Shark, seen in the Mediterranean Sea.

I was also able to take some underwater photos and as far as I know they are still the only underwater photos of a great white shark in the Mediterranean.

White shark

The image quality is not as good as it is expected today.
In my defense, I must say that they were originally shot with a Nikonos II (late 60s camera film), recorded on Ektachrome slide, duplicated for safety for my archive. Despite everything, however, there are scratches and damage to the delicate photographic emulsion.
Decades later, I had my entire archive converted to digital by professionals.
What you see is the result...

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Strait of Sicily, many years ago.
Off the Banco di Pantelleria, 22 nautical miles from its port, on the north side, where the seabed drops from twenty to over fifty meters.
Mid-July, very flat sea...

The photos

Dr. Alessandro de Maddalena was very interested in both my encounter and the pictures. He published them in his fundamental "Mediterranean Great White Sharks". And through him one of my photographs ended up in an exhibition held by the prestigious Musée Océanographique de Monaco. For that, the operating director thanked me. Very proud...

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The second was a Tiger Shark, in Australia, near Shark Bay (strange, isn’t it?). In this case the pictures, taken by me and my friend Greg Pickering, were WONDERFUL. The shark stayed near us for nearly twenty minutes, and Greg even managed to capture in a photograph the moment the monster swallowed the fish we had just caught!

Tiger Shark

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Dolphins

We have all seen dolphins of various species jumping around the boats. However, I was lucky and, off Pantelleria, I had the opportunity to meet in the very calm water (a rarity in the Strait of Sicily) on two occasions in two different years, a pod of dolphins resting / sleeping.

 

Dolphins

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Those "weird" dolphins in the white-bordered photos are rare Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis - G. Cuvier).
I met them off the Cape Verde islands.

Turtles

Off the coast of Cape Verde I was lucky enough to meet a couple of turtles in love. They are the Caretta caretta, a turtle that is also well present in the Mediterranean, which still finds refuge on the beaches of Cape Verde. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) lists it as Endangered.

Turtles

I felt a bit of a voyeur, and tried to disturb as little as possible.
But they were very busy and didn't pay much attention to me.
Tender the male who nibbles the paw of his Juliet (a quintal of a Juliet)...

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Mantas, mobulas and others

A roundup of encounters in the Bue, above the surface: fishermen from Cape Verde, two returning sailing with a nice tuna caught with hand line, and immersed: images of a huge Manta birostris, a wahoo and a common Atlantic mobula (Mobula tarapacana).

Mantas, mobulas and others

The Atlantic mobula (Mobula tarapacana), is closely related to the manta ray, with which it shares the classification up to the subfamily.
Unlike the latter, that it is exclusively planktophagous, the mobula actively hunts small fish, even in group actions.
The sunfish (gen Mola) was photographed off the North Island of New Zealand. It is a juvenile specimen, just over one meter in length. It can triple its size!

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Fresh Waters - Sturgeons

In the Ticino river and in the Po, there are, there would be, sturgeons. Of three species: beluga or ladano sturgeon (Huso huso), common sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) and cobice sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii), exclusive to the Adriatic.
They are species that have a life cycle very similar to salmon: to reproduce they go up rivers to lay their eggs.
The problem is that the Isola Serafini Dam, since 1958, the year of construction, has blocked their ascents.

All three species are not doing well, the, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) gives for Italy.

  • for the ladano sturgeon: "Extinct in the wild for at least 30 years.."
  • for the common sturgeon, likewise: "Extinct in the wild for at least 30 years.."
  • for the cobice, instead, there are hopes: "Critically Endangered but not extinct"

Fortunately, there are several projects for the rescue of what still exists and the reintroduction of what is lost.

Cobice sturgeons

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Photographed in the Ticino river, around Pavia, using the oxygen respirator (a kind of rebreather), that of the Italian Naval Special Forces of the Second World War, totally silent, without the emission of bubbles and with an autonomy of hours.

 

The photo of the small sturgeon (very grainy) is important because it shows a "pocelletta", a very small cobice sturgeon, demonstrating that at that time they still reproduced in the Ticino river.

The photos

The photographs are from the early 1980s. Many years ago. But they are still quite valid, the only photos, that I know, to have been taken of wild sturgeons in their natural environment.

 

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