Photographing whale sharks in Djibouti.

Posted on 19th July 2022 in General

Swimming with whale sharks in Djibouti, photography by Beatrice Colombo Serri
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Beatrice Colombo Serri shares with us her experience in Djibouti

As part of the process I’m experiencing in becoming a good photographer, I’m pushing myself against fears in order to try new experiences. 

I’ve never swam with big animals before nor taken professional pictures under the water. Suddenly, one day I was presented with an opportunity and without thinking twice I got the underwater case and left for Africa.

In November 2021 I visited a country I could barely locate geographically. Djibouti has only one single large city: Djibouti. Its position between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden makes it a strategic place as a center of commercial traffic and for all the military bases on the territory. All of these characteristics made it a non-touristic place where (luckily) the wonderful marine ecosystem, extremely abundant and alive, has been explored only by a few over the years. During winter the particular currents of the Gulf of Tagiura create a mix of Plankton and nutrients so rich as to attract many whale sharks (mainly young males of 4/5 meters in length).

I was there with Ginevra, a talented PhD marine biologist at the Università of Insubria in Italy. Since 2016 she studies the behaviour, migration and toxicology of these animals and of the water and territory of Djibouti. She goes there at least twice a year to catalog each animal she sees through ID photos and taking samples of water and plankton. This time I followed her and documented the amazing job she does.

Everyday we were immersed in the water swimming with this gentle giants of the oceans. These animals are so calm and gentle. If you treat them with respect they respect and stay with you. There’s no risk to be eaten or attacked. I would strongly recommend to plan to see and swim with them together with a certified tour specialised and trained in this kind of experience! I met extraordinary people and documented the enormous work that is done every day to study and protect our seas and oceans. An experience I would suggest everyone to do and live at least once.

I want to thanks Ginevra Boldrocchi @dj.whale.shark.project for this amazing project and marine lessons.

And Tyson Sadlo, @herdrepresented for the super underwater case I could use with sharks and fishes!

What a unique journey!


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