There is a saying that goes “Never meet your heroes.”  The idea is that your heroes only seem invincible because you don’t know their dirty secrets and character flaws.  So when I noticed that National Geographic’s premiere shark photographer Daniel Botelho was in town, I reluctantly suggested we should go find some sharks.  His photos depicting oceanic whitetips and white sharks are of incomparable caliber, but it was his shots from Tiger Beach that really impressed on me.  After spending a day gaining from his vast experience and watching him work, I can honestly say he is one of the world’s true heroes whose place on a pedestal above the rest of us is well deserved.  
In short order, he had organized a private charter to take us three miles offshore from Haleiwa where packs of Galapagos sharks are known to follow boats hoping for fishy handouts.  It wasn’t long before we had 4 good-sized animals following us around.  It seems his magnetic personality extends beyond the human race.  I’ve played with lots of Galapagos sharks, but we spent the next hour freediving with the friendliest and most photogenic examples of the species I have ever seen. The dominant animal even shared a moment with me when I pet its nose.  The combined results of extra friendly animals and a few last minute tips from Daniel ensured some of the best shots I have ever gotten. I could have spent all day out there, but we both had prior responsibilities that required us back on land by the afternoon.  
En route back to shore, Daniel, bubbling with excitement, confided that a recent article he had written inspired the Taiwanese Fisheries Minister to back protection for white sharks in Taiwan.  A very elite few eco-photojournalists can even dream of having such an impact.  After you’re done here, I highly recommend spending a minute checking out the galleries on his page.  May you find inspiration there as well.




And before I sign off, me with my new friend!