So, here’s a question for any photographers who are reading this. If you went swimming with whales and lost a AUD$10,000 camera and lens because your underwater housing filled with water as soon as you went under, would you risk another AUD$10,000 worth of gear in the same housing to try and get the photographs the next day?
Truth be told, I shouldn’t have. But the singular reason I went back in the second time was because I’d swum with the whales 10 years ago and I simply wasn’t prepared to lose the joyous memory I had of what I believe is one of life’s great experiences with the animal kingdom (the last time I did it, women were getting out of the water in tears of joy and men, who saw me photographing from the deck, said “David, just put down your camera and experience this. You’ll never regret it” ….And they were right).
It doesn’t take much to imagine the trauma associated with seeing your housing fill with water as you hold it up to your eyes to photograph a six week old whale calf frolicking around her mother. I was absolutely gutted. It shattered not only the day I was having but it stole from me the incredible experience I had 10 years ago because I knew I’d never be able to recall swimming with the whales again without re-living the devastation I’d just experienced.
The next morning (as if by divine intervention some might suggest) the same mother and her calf appeared just off the island we were staying on and I thought bugger it; life’s too short and I went back in (admittedly, with several rolls of duck tape surrounding the %$$#! housing). The housing didn’t leak, these pictures (above) and others resulted, and I’m now continuing my assignment.
But, most importantly, I can still recall my experience of swimming with the whales in Tonga as an absolute joy – one which everyone, including my son, should look to do at least once in their lifetime.
Post Script: ……Of course, I may look at all this differently when I get back and receive the insurance bill.