Human Journey

Sky Sharks: Pictures of Super-Predators Snatching Prey From the Air

What one-ton fish armed with rows of dagger-like teeth can lunge ten feet from the ocean to snatch its prey? None other than the great white shark, a super-predator that has honed its killing skills over hundreds of millions of years. Husband-and-wife photography team Chris and Monique Fallows share their pictures, experiences, and insights collected over a lifetime of observing sharks and other predators in Africa.

The 19 photos in the post may be enlarged by clicking on them individually.

By Chris Fallows

Four hundred million years ago the first sharklike fish appeared in the ocean. Today that original predatory fish has evolved, fine-tuned into one of the world’s almost perfect hunters, the great white shark.

It was always a dream to be able to work with these super predators. So when in 1996 at a small shelving of rock  in False Bay, South Africa, a colleague and I discovered these sharks taking to the air in unbelievable bursts of athleticism, I knew I had found my calling.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Seal Island, nestled deep into False Bay, is only 35 minutes from beautiful Cape Town. It is home to 64,000 seals–and a spectacular group of great white sharks.

For the past 16 years I have been lucky enough to witness these sharks hunting on over 6,400 occasions, which gives an idea of the predatory intensity that takes place here each April to September, when the sharks patrol the islands waters.

As a wildlife photographer and naturalist, it does not come much better or bigger than to have the opportunity to capture 2,000-pound flying sharks on film.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Each hunt and each breach is unique, each carries with it a sense of awe, a raw emotion of the desperate struggle that both predator and prey face when they engage each other, both trying to survive.

The average great white we see at Seal Island is around 11 feet in length–and yet such giant fish are capable of astonishing leaps, sometimes taking their bodies up to 10 feet clear of the water.

The young seals are far from defenseless. Agility coupled with stamina is a fine match to counter the sharks’ speed and power. The wily seals manage to get away as often as they are caught. Some chases last over 5 minutes.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

You would think that after seeing thousands of hunts I would be emotionless, but the truth couldn’t be further away. To see a young seal outwitting , out-maneuvering and outlasting one shark only to be pursued by another and then another before finally succumbing just meters away from its island sanctuary can be tear-jerking, just as it can be a moment of elation when the seal escapes.

Every day during the core of the peak season is a emotional roller coaster, with some of our guests cheering for the sharks and some for the seals. No matter which side of the fence you sit on, you can’t but be spellbound.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

To get great images of the action takes time, planning and a lot of experience in anticipating how each event is likely to play out. Knowing when and where exactly a shark will attack a seal is difficult. For natural predation events we take into consideration each day’s weather and position ourselves accordingly around the island, knowing that certain winds may mean a shift in predatory intensity from one area to another. We try to locate single young seals returning from feeding and watch and follow their progress as they return through some of the world’s most dangerous waters.

Apex Shark Expeditions skipper Poenas or my wife Monique will position  the boat in such a manner as to keep a respectful distance from the action without influencing the outcome. At the same time they will position the vessel into the wind for better control, and also on the good light side so as to give me and our guests the best chance to make great images.

The action is brief, powerful and unpredictable, so fast reflexes, good concentration and a modicum of luck are needed to get “the” image.  Countless headaches from concentration, numb fingers from the cold, and cramped limbs from being in contorted positions are the order of the day.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Many is the time when I have been a split second late on the trigger or the boat was just not quick enough to get us to the action. However, this is compensated for by having lightning fast gear and an organized and experienced crew.

I use a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV camera body, which shoots 10 frames per second, and a 70-200 f2.8 IS lens as my primary artillery when going into predatory combat against the elements.

For many of our guests as well as ourselves it is a highlight just to see a great white cruising majestically next to the boat, relaxed and confident. But when these sharks turn it on it is for many one of nature’s greatest spectacles.

Although in 1991 South Africa was the first country to protect the great white shark, sadly today we are still statistically the biggest killers of these magnificent animals. The Natal Sharks Board has a netting and drum line program that kills between 11 and 60 great whites per year. They complement the nets with drum lines that specifically target great whites, tigers and bulls, basically all the apex predators.

Ironically, and thankfully, when they check their gear and find a shark alive they release it, which begs the question why they catch it in the first place. Why catch and then release an injured and traumatized animal?

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Long-lining, poaching and even beach sport fishing is also still ongoing in South Africa, with authorities doing nothing to stop it.

Sharks of all species kill  on average less than 10 people around the world each year, yet we place a huge emphasis and effort on wiping them out. The irony, however, is that by eliminating sharks we might be destroying the greatest balancing organism in the ocean. The ocean ultimately provides a large amount of our oxygen and food and if we mess that up it could result in the deaths of  millions of us.

On a positive note, nearly 40,000 people come to South Africa each year with the primary objective of trying to see a great white shark alive in its natural habitat. With this sort of influx of tourists, one can only hope that more people and organizations will put pressure on local authorities to do their jobs properly and look after these important predators in the marine food chain.

Not a day goes past where Monique and I are not grateful for being lucky enough to work where we do, for the privilege of getting to know the bay’s amazing wildlife, and sharing magical moments with the flying great white sharks of False Bay’s Seal Island.

 

In the Water with the Great White Shark

I first free-dived [without the protection of a diving cage] with a great white shark at Dyer Island’s “shark alley” in 1994.

I remember the fear tempered with excitement as we slipped quietly into the water knowing that only two minutes earlier a 10-foot shark had snatched a bait off the back of our boat.

For 20 pensive minutes I searched frantically for the animal that many believed would devour me and my two dive buddies, but it was nowhere to be seen. As we dejectedly climbed back onto our boat there she was, slowly circling, obviously having been watching us from a distance all the time.

Far from being mindless killers, each white shark has its own personality, some bold and assertive, some shy and reclusive, and some that just want nothing to do with us in any shape or form.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Since those early days I have free-dived with great white sharks in many locations around the world, not for bravado, but for pleasure. I usually do it with experienced colleagues when the cameras are not around.

To be in the water with a great white, or any large shark, is a beautiful thing, it is that simple. To be allowed to share the same space with this animal as it effortlessly moves through its watery world is a humbling experience. A guest once commented that a great white does not move through the water, the water moves with a great white.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

The big bold eye watches you, wondering what you are, whether you pose a threat — or perhaps you are potentially something it should investigate, but it is not sure how. No doubt there have been moments when I have thought, wow, that is a huge animal that could kill me right now if it wanted to. But equally so there are many moments when you feel a tremendous sense of peace as the massive sharks glide by.

We make sure we free-dive with these animals only when the conditions are perfect and when we have the “right” shark around the boat. To do so at any other time would be disrespectful of the animal as a super predator.

As a wildlife photographer I am always trying to find new and innovative ways to capture images of my subjects, and with sharks it is no different. When I am not free-diving, I often use a contraption called a pole camera, which as its name suggests, is a camera mounted on a pole. I attach a trigger-release which allows me to stick the camera underwater and fire the shutter from the boat. In this way I can sometimes get very close to action I would not wish to encounter if free-diving. It also allows a greater degree of movement as I can simply move from one side of the boat to another, depending on where the action is — without having to look over my shoulder, wondering where the shark is. Even so, I have over the years had a dome port knocked off by a bold shark and have felt many take investigatory nibbles.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Sometimes we have rare and unique opportunities to see amazing behavior such as multiple great whites intensely feeding simultaneously on a whale carcass. In such cases I will shoot from the cage, my pole camera, or the surface, as with up to 28 great white sharks in a small area it is not a good idea to get caught up in the middle of the banquet.

To get different images I have employed a novel technique to suit the situation, and that is to lie on a whale carcass to get low and close to the shark action only meters away. If you like nice smelling things and clean clothes, don’t try this! When the sharks bite into the carcass the cavernous mouths compress air out through their gills and teeth as they crunch down onto the fatty meal. The result is a misty plume of wet ,fatty, salty great white shark spit that covers your face and camera. It’s not pleasant, I can promise, but I have to say it is still pretty cool.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Great whites  visit different habitats at different times of the year. Typically in the fall and winter months, the big great whites concentrate around seal colonies. As spring advances, so the sharks move inshore and patrol broken reef systems that are often close to open sandy beaches. They do this to hunt various bony fish and smaller sharks and rays, and then seem to just “chill out” off the beaches, perhaps using the surf’s oxygenated and warm water to help conserve energy and digest food more efficiently.

What this means is a shift in what I am trying to shoot. In several recent documentaries I have kayaked with up to 30 different great whites, stand-up paddle-boarded with 14-foot sharks, and have even followed them in a small submarine to show people that they do not simply rush in and attack us when in the same waters we enjoy for recreation.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

To shoot these animals slowly cruising inshore is not easy. You need flat calm conditions, clear water, interesting backgrounds and sharks near to the surface to be able to adequately show how close the sharks are to shore and how they share a similar summer environment with us.

You need to get close to them when using wide angle lenses such as the Canon 16-35 F2.8, which is my lens of choice to show the whole scene. This can be tricky, as quite often they will simply dive and move away from you, even if you are on something as uninvasive as a kayak. I will usually see what course the shark is moving on, and then go ahead and wait for the shark so that it can choose if it wants to come to me rather than me suddenly paddling up to it.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

I use various filters to help take the glare off the water, such as a polarizer and also a graduated filter which better allows me to balance the dark water with the bright sky and shows the shark, my subject, a lot more clearly. I think one of the most beautiful things to see is a massive shark in water so shallow that its belly almost touches the sand, and have a completely uninhabited sandy beach in the background. A scene like this casts my mind back to how it must have been a long time before we arrived and the sharks could simply do their thing without having to worry about shark nets, fishing hooks and propellers.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

When it comes to working with great white sharks, if you had to ask me what single image I found the most beautiful it would have to be that of a large great white arching its body upward toward the surface, and in doing so, exposing its huge white belly to the sunlight. I find this great flash of white as the predator adopts a vertical attack magnificent.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

A Concert of Predators

Although our ecotourism company is most famous for the expeditions to see False Bay’s Great White Sharks, we also spend vast amounts of time in the company of some other extraordinary marine hunters. One of our summer expeditions is to go far offshore in search of the open ocean predators, which include sharks, game fish and pelagic birds.

The open ocean is a very foreign environment to most people. It is well outside our comfort zone and an environment in which we are decidedly vulnerable. The wildlife we encounter out there in the middle of nowhere has probably never seen a human before, and is as curious of us as we are of them. I think it is this real spirit of adventure that makes this world so attractive to us. It really is one of the last frontiers that we have not mastered.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Far offshore, the water is usually inky blue, warm and has fantastic visibility, so when you see the hunters below the water you really get a good look. As food is very scarce for these predators, anything, including the visiting humans, are carefully and closely investigated and many interactions are intense. To many who see them, the mako is one of the most beautiful and respected of the sea’s super sharks. It is certainly the fastest, and coupled with its torpedo-like body and metallic blue colors, it is a handsome creature indeed. Makos can be really bold and many is the time when one of these fighter plane-like sharks has jetted narrowly past me, leaving me rocking in its wake.

Occupying a similar niche in the open ocean is the blue shark, which travels huge distances in search of food. Sometimes we will have as many as 30 on a dive, and to be surrounded by all these sharks is breathtaking.

Apart from the  sharks we commonly encounter are the game fish, sadly only known to many as  a tasty meal on a plate. These iridescent speedsters hunt bait fish and use speed, agility, and even weapons in the form of their bills to slash, catch and eat their quarry. While we wait for the sharks we will often have tuna , dorado and other game fish investigate us.

I remember on one occasion in 2004 when we had a small blue shark and several massive yellowfin tuna around our boat. The tuna would rush up behind the blue shark and brush against its rough skin to scratch an itch or scrape off parasites. The result was a very annoyed and nervous blue shark, which would rock from side to side after each traumatic interaction.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

On another occasion we had about 50 yellowfin tuna  in the 120lb class around our vessel eating the chunks of sardine that were meant for the sharks. Monique and I took turns diving with them, and I got great pleasure out of seeing how close I could throw the chunks to Monique’s mask. The great fish would rush to grab them often less than 2 feet from Monique, leaving her staggering in their tail wash.

We have also been lucky to dive with sailfish which were actively involved in hunting sardines only meters away. These three-meter long [10 feet] speedsters use their bills to slash the bait fish which are then consumed. When you have a sailfish racing towards you with its lancelike bill aimed at your vital or sexual organs you feel a certain amount of discomfort, but on each and every occasion the flamenco-like sail of the fish would be hoisted just before contact in a blaze of color (and bragging) to help it change direction and herd the bait fish to where it wanted them. Simply awesome.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

Although they don’t fill you with adrenaline like diving with sharks does at close quarters, one of the most spectacular things about our trips into the open ocean is seeing the incredible array of magnificent seabirds. Those I enjoy the most are the various species of albatross we see on each trip. With wingspans exceeding 11 feet these birds are more like small planes than birds, and when they sweep past overhead it is an amazing experience. Sometimes the albatrosses will settle on the water behind our boat, as they have learned from following large commercial fishing vessels such as trawlers that boats can offer a free meal. It is at these times that we see the sharks and albatrosses interact, with the sharks trying to nibble the birds’ feet and the birds pecking back in defiance.

When you are only inches away from the giant squawking birds and surrounded by sharks it is like being in a whole different world, where the likes of fictional cartoon characters like Peter Pan sailing magical ships cruise by. I have often had to kick away a nosy blue shark who thought he would latch onto a nice white flipper that I generally use to attract them. The entire experience is surreal.

To get most of my shots in these situations is tough, as I obviously want to get both shark and bird. This takes some doing, as to shoot split shots, where you have sky and water, generally needs flat seas, and off the SW tip of Africa that is not the norm. You also have another problem, in that you generally focus on the top water and what’s above it, so forget about the sharks below.

Sadly, 19 or the world’s 22 species of albatross are directly threatened by long lining, the practice of setting tens of thousands of baited hooks from one vessel to catch tuna, swordfish, sharks and other fish. If you want to make a difference as a consumer, be sure that you buy fish that does not come from this fishery.

One of my biggest problems as a wildlife photographer is that I get so darned excited by everything I see, as well as getting emotionally involved. Often as sharks come close,  or gannets plunge at 140 kph [90 mph]into the water next to me, I get so caught up in the incredible moment that I forget about settings, composition and my objectives. I really just so love and live for the moment.

A good example of being overwhelmed by wildlife took place in 2010 when we were on our  way to watch False Bay’s famous great whites with a group of guests. En route to the island we were distracted by a school of over a thousand common dolphins which were in a great hurry and clearly anxious. We followed the school for a while and then saw the reason for their agitation. A few hundred yards behind them a pod of orcas were in hot pursuit.

The orcas rapidly closed the gap to the dolphins and rode alongside our vessel, sometimes leaping next to us or bow-riding. Guests cried with excitement (or perhaps out of fear) and took hundreds of pictures of the scene unfolding in front of us, sometimes tripping over each other in the process.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

I did not know what to do, I tried wide angle shots of the orcas next to us, tight shots of them breaking the surface, landscape shots of the mountains in the background and orcas in the foreground. But seriously, I had no idea of what to focus my attention on. I was a kid in a candy store with five minutes to grab whatever I could.

Slowly I gained composure and figured the money shot would be of the orcas leaping out the water while trying to catch a dolphin, or so I hoped.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

 

I had hardly made my decision when a huge orca exploded into the panic-stricken school about 200 yards away. I missed it, and the language I used was not choice. It was one of those moments where I was angry for missing something, but I quickly thought how darned lucky I was to just be there and should rather relax and enjoy the moment.

I managed a few images that I was very happy with and felt to a certain degree captured what was going on, and while I will never forget what I missed, I also won’t forget what a privilege I had. The message was one I preach all the time: Don’t be so focused on one subject, image or animal that you do not enjoy the moment, scene or other wildlife at hand, as any sighting of any animal is special, and one that many others would love to have.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, www.apexpredators.com

Chris and Monique Fallows own and operate Apex Shark Expeditions, which specializes in photographic and shark cage diving expeditions to view great white sharks in False Bay, South Africa. Chris hopes that through his images and wildlife expeditions people will appreciate South Africa’s magnificent marine predators as much as their terrestrial counterparts.

For more of Chris’s work check out www.apexpredators.com. Or follow Chris & Monique on Facebook. www.facebook.com/ApexSharks

For nearly twenty years, South African Chris Fallows has been photographing marine wildlife. He is best known for his pioneering images of the famous flying great white sharks of Seal Island, False Bay. Chris and his wife Monique are wildlife naturalists and when they are not on the water they spend the rest of their time photographing and traveling to other wildlife destinations around the world. The couple owns and operates Apex Shark Expeditions which specializes in photographic and cage diving expeditions to view great white sharks in False Bay, South Africa. Chris hopes that through his images and wildlife expeditions people will appreciate South Africa's magnificent marine predators as much as their terrestrial counterparts. For more of Chris's work check out www.apexpredators.com Or follow Chris & Monique on Facebook. www.facebook.com/ApexSharks
  • leslie young

    STUNNING AMAZING and INCREDIBLE

  • […] Chris and Monique Fallows share their pictures, experiences, and insights collected over a … read full news Published: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 18:15 In category: NewsTags:Sky Sharks: Pictures of […]

  • Dana

    Wow! This was an amazing read and the photos are stunning! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • Jennifer

    incredible photos 🙂 big fan of Chris Fallows… would love to see this in person someday.
    It’s something that I may not ever get to do, if things continue the way they are.
    The killing of sharks needs to be banned altogether and strict enforcement is needed if these wonderfully powerful,very necessary predators are going to survive. Many shark species are already either threatened or endangered. Approx. 73 MILLION sharks are brutally killed for their fins every year. Finning is a cruel act that entails catching a shark, while still alive cutting its fins off and dumping it back into the ocean to drown.
    *Respect and Protect Sharks and understand they have a purpose – they keep our ocean healthy and balanced * Whether you like sharks or not, they are worth so much more alive than dead.

  • audrey

    I grew up in South Africa, so I can appreciate the diverse wildlife, both marine and land. I was amazed and thrilled at your photos, and captured by your words. You and your wife are doing a wonderful job to educate, and I am a little envious that you get to live this; but now I have enjoyed it through the eyes of your camera. Thank you, I look forward to continued news and information from your company.

  • Keith Gray

    Great Pics- saw one of David Attenborough’s documentarys a few years ago with the same thing in super slow motion. Great documentary.

  • Arlin

    Awesome foto’s! I’m interested to your reaction if I tel you that I have a clear and sharp picture of a shark breach where you can see the shark about one meter out of the water- totally horizontal and perfectly upsidedown in full side view!!!???

    In clear day light!!

  • Syed Nayeem

    This unbelievable, and amazingly beautiful tried to search you on facebook but didnt know the right person, at least could follow your work..

  • luke

    dont b fooled this is how they evolve! SOON SHARKS SHALL B SWIMMIN IN DA SKY!

  • Subenoy Sen

    I am also a photographer but not as great as you!! I am just dumbstruck on seeing these… 😀

  • Dan

    “a super-predator that has honed its killing skills over hundreds of millions of years.

    Four hundred million years ago the first sharklike fish appeared in the ocean. ”

    Great story and photos…just wish we could stick with facts.

  • Duane B

    Viewing these amazing photos and reading this thrilling article, I have become the newest fan of Chris Fallows. Jeffrey Gershen, a great man, a great friend and mentor introduced me to the amazing world under the sea through scuba diving several years ago. Sadly, he passed away a few weeks ago doing what he loved – scuba diving. Looking at these pictures makes me feel so grateful to be have been his friend and now have this life and love for the sea. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and honor to dive in Cape Town/False Bay, South Africa. Thank you Chris Fallows!

  • Andrew

    I am always stricken by the stupidity of my fellow Americans Dan . If I may ask a question after I just insulted you. How do explain dinosaurs? Do you believe that they where Alive in your fantasy fifty thousand year time period?

  • Andrew

    Dan ,are you familiar with the story of Adam and Eve? I know you are. Count your ribs . Dinosaurs are you trying to tell us that they also lived in this fantasy Fifty Thousand year time period? I honestly could go on and on but whats the point facts are not your thing I just wish you people could keep your moronic beliefs to your self .

  • […] Check at the rest of the photos at NationalGeographic.com […]

  • Sheila

    mother nature is awesome .

  • Melany Van Every

    Watching these sharks leap out of the water still amazes me!

  • basem

    great photo for great animal
    go on……………………..

  • christina

    Wow was truly taken by your work. Sharks are one of my favoite sea creatures they truly amaze me and are beautiful Beautiful job with the pics

  • Mario Salvador

    INCREDIBLE -predator and awesome photos too, Reminds me also of my stone age/ paleolithic art or artifacts of 7 SHARK-shaped stone age/paleolithic artifacts I Recently discovered. Mario Salvador

  • Melody

    Those pictures are fascinating and I respect sharks, but they are the reason I won’t swim in the ocean.

  • Nick

    I have seen alot of sharks in my travels and have only seen one leap out of the water . Something i will never forget they are amazing creatures

  • Toefi R Dini

    Subhanallah..amazing..nice guys..2 thumbs!!

  • Anabela

    Amazing creatures and a very nice job you’re doing…keep going on…the best of luck.

  • Walter Rohner

    fotografos geniales captan momentos especiales de la naturaleza tal cual es ella maravillosa y radical a lavez.

  • jesus ernesto ureta espinoza

    son formidables las fotos,aqui en una vaia sercana,sacaron un tiburon blanco el año pasado,era inmenso,para no ser sona de tiburones blancos,fue nobedoso no mui comun,pero si anterior mente an sacado de los mismos tiburones,

  • Soumyodeepa

    This is a must read, the pictures are breathtaking, if they are so alive then what an experience would it be to see it LIVE!!!

  • Dilip

    Chris & Nat-Geo,Thank U very much for sharing these incredible photos with us….Both of U are the true messengers of CONSERVATION…Daring,adventorous & concerned only U people can save our blue planet for the future generations….THANKS A LOT

  • Akram

    those are really nice photos…pls share with us the most beautiful photos ,adventure ur discovery nd incredible creature’s photo the world have never seen it before…

  • Marta

    outstanding Chris!! thanks for sharing these incredible pictures. simply amazing and fashinating. great experience and great job!

  • Bird White

    SOO EXCITING, AND SOO INTERISTING

  • Ronald

    awesome pics……….really cool

  • Elaine

    Oh these are so awesome. My grand children really enjoyed them. Thank you for allowing me to have this to share with them. I may never get to do this in person or should I say up close and personal like, but to see their faces as they looked was so amazing.

  • BCL

    So I guess the idea of a giant shark snatching an airliner out of the sky isn’t so crazy after all. . .

  • Michéle

    Wow Chris! Great photos. The more stories you share with the world, the more people will be educated and fully understand this incredible creature. Chris and Monique keep up the good work.

  • Juvy Love L. Lacre

    whoa!!! that was a strength of the real Great White Shark…and to its other shark family…

  • […] It's a Bird…It's a Plane…No, It's a FLYING KILLER SHARK: These super-predators don't just lurk under the sea; they jump out of the water to devour their seal prey. Think about that while you're swimming in the ocean this summer. (National Geographic) […]

  • […] and insights collected over many years of following sharks and other predators in Africa.Source:http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/15/shark-pictures-super-predators/ Posted by Paola Fuentes at […]

  • Bill

    Had the opportunity to see Orcas off the Canadian West Coast. they popped up and observed us with every bit of the curiosity that we experienced watching them. I understand the emotions of being there in the moment. There is a sense of sharing conciousness with these great creatures. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  • Shelley V

    Amazing photos!! They fill me with terror and wonder just looking at them. I’ve done a shark cage dive in Haleiwa and one of my long term goals is to go out with Apex!

  • David Bourne

    Don’t forget spinner sharks. They are not as large or well, known, but they have to jump out of the water to feed. I did not know about them until I saw one jump in front of me one day while I was windsurfing. I was just a kid and it scared the mess out of me!

    Just like it probably would today at 42.

    Thanks for the great article and pics.

    -db

  • Carolina

    Baby there are a huge and fabulous Sharks in the water 🙂

  • Kishor mahbub

    Nice,amazing,stunning,incredible,fantastic………so on.
    I love watching sharks,their activities…..

  • Claudia Patricia Flórez Mendoza

    Muy buenas las Fotografías, plasman lo bello, voráz y fuerte que es el Tiburón.Realidad Extrema que muestran al rey de los oceános en su mejor momento!!!Al ataque!!
    Es bueno seguir conservando a todas estas especies,para que nos sigamos deleitando viendo cómo fotógrafos expertos logran captar ´imágenes tan reales y reproducirlas para todo el mundo.Felicitaciones!!!!!!muy buen trabajo!!!!!!!

  • France

    Whow ! Chris perfection my friend !
    Bravo ! love it !

    France

  • […] and other sharks for 16 years. You can see 19 of their amazing pictures at National Geographic. Link -Thanks, Marilyn […]

  • Craig Donnell

    I detest all of these predators at the top of the food chain. The brutal savegery of these animals is difficult to watch. Onne cannot help but feel sad for thir prey, small almost defenceless creatures that are “sneaked” up upon. I wish all animals at the top of the food chain would simply die out. I do not think that there would be much effect on the earths eco systems as there would be if an animal lower down the food chain were to disappear.

  • […] Jun. 16th, 2011 at 6:16 PM What one-ton fish armed with rows of dagger-like teeth can rocket ten feet out of the ocean in pursuit of its prey? None other than the great white shark, a super predator that has honed its killing skills over hundreds of millions of years. Husband-and-wife photography team Chris and Monique Fallows share their pictures, experiences, and insights collected over many years of following sharks and other predators in Africa.Source:http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/15/shark-pictures-super-predators/ […]

  • Michele

    Absolutely amazing! Frightening but beautiful creatures. You and your wife are very brave. Thanks for sharing your incredible photos!

  • Ed Garcia

    INCREDIBLE!

    These would look great on my wall paper

  • karen Joy Pepito

    Incredibly amazing and fascinating! that ‘s one hell of a great work…. from a talented photographer… Just by looking at the picture you can already feel the fury of these sea predators… a two thumbs up for this photographs… ^_^

  • Tek Leng

    I can’t believe how you took all these photos. I make me scare of swimming in the sea.

  • Amir

    Wooow. I saw your documentary on discovery channel many years ago” Air jaws 1&2 “, But this images are unique. Good luck

  • Kamlakar Rane

    This unbelievable, and amazingly beautiful

  • Xavier

    Some people in life like this dan guy tend to live in caves. Then there are people like andrew that have common sense.

  • Vimal

    Its just fascinating and reminds us that all have a place in mother’s nature lap. We should at all cost ensure and contribute in preserving our ecological balance

  • Denis Arguedas

    !!!! SORPRENDE!!!!

    EXCELENTE TRABAJO TODO UN PROFECIONAL

  • mur

    Awsome

  • mouhsine hafar

    I love a great white shark to be as strong and intelligent, I would like to see him directly, and touch it and accept it that the most beautiful animal killer, and I love the second animal, the killer whale

  • Irma

    Tremendas fotos impactantes! Felicito al fotógrafo Chris Follow por estas fotos.

  • Dave

    Thank you for allowing us to share your experiences, fantastic image and story line

  • leo

    Chris, you are unbelievable, Eres increible, felicidades, swimming with a shark deserves my respects, mis respetos , que fotos tan chidas, hermano

  • […] hasta septiembre, cuando los tiburones patrullan las aguas de la isla”, escribe Chris en National Geographic, donde presenta 19 espectaculares fotos de estos monstruos […]

  • […] Fotos de tiburones arrebatando presas en el aire. […]

  • rima eirani

    amazing, the photography is brilliant

  • France

    I can’t believe how you took all these photos. but it very nice! hopefully i will see a real shark.. 😀

  • Raja

    Most best than the better than the best. I never seen this type of amazing fhotos

  • Anuradha Tulsyan

    whoa!! Incredible, scary, and out of this world pictures!!
    Great iniatiavie to share your unique experiences with the world..

  • Ankit Sudan

    Amazing pics love great white…..And good luck for future…..for same such amazing pics..!@!

  • roderick drummond

    those are splendid wish i could b there wow.

  • nirpal

    Wonderful 🙂
    keep it up..

  • Claudia Cordova

    This pictures are amazings! What a beautiful job!

  • amir abbas babaei

    NICE SHOTS!!!!!

  • Marika Scott

    Absolutaly wiked photos, you have definatly got one of the best jobs in the world! Amazing!!

  • Remco Vroom

    Fantastic! I really appreciate what you are doing.

  • eduardo de leon

    take care world pleace a gotta see green pleace

  • Claudia

    Absolutely stunning!!!

  • Priya Jasper

    awesomeeee…incredible timing..it would have been really a sight to watch this in person,, rite !!!!! thanks for sharing this..

  • Arun.B.S

    nice

  • MANIKS

    Great moment, Good job Bro.

  • DEBRAJ

    THANKS FOR YOUR RESEARCH & PATIENCE. WE GOT A GREAT EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR SUPERB PHOTOGRAPHY & EXPLANATION.

  • Philip Liu

    SIMPLY BREATHTAKING PHOTOGRAPHY. This article also helps us to better appreciate and understand these magnificent animals and also to respect their habitats.

  • Nour

    professional photographers for a professional channel

  • Devon Kentao

    Qué fabulosas fotos, una vez más demostrada la belleza de ese animal tan grandioso como lo es el tiburón blanco, sé que algún día el hombre se arrepentirá de estar acabando con ellos…

    Gracias por compartir tu gran trabajo, son unas fotos increíbles…!!!! 😀

  • alvarez-delarosa

    This pictures are out of this world! and then again, a good remainder why I respect the Ocean!

  • amjad

    thats amazing really great white shark

  • raymund

    perfection!!!

  • kane

    WoW .. amazing work .. May God bless you always
    and thanks a lot for sharing with us and thanks NatGeo team 🙂

  • George Askew

    Great pix Chris.

  • […] ver el resto de las imágenes y leer el reportaje siguiendo este enlace. Como bonus, os recomiendo que os paséis por http://www.apexpredators.com donde podréis encontrar muchas […]

  • f3lipe

    excellent photo!
    you have a good eye for finding the best time.

  • butch castillo

    what a great snatch shots!

  • butch castillo

    what a great snatch shots

  • jun admana

    I love the photo of the 3 dolphins in the air.

  • rachid

    amazing photos from you thanks!

  • fizi

    just say wow……………………….

  • reza

    nice job and nice shots hunter of moments thank you

  • Twyla

    Fantastic photos! …they speak volumes!!! I’m SO WANTING to add a trip to the GBR to my bucket list! 🙂

  • Mercia Rand

    I love the pics, I love sharks, I love the sailfish and dolphin pics.

    I wish the world will learn to see the true beauty of these awesome creatures. I am an absolute shark fanatic – being a scuba diver myself – and every encounter with a shark is simply unforgettable.

    Well done guys 🙂 Dankie vir die mooi fotos 🙂

  • marylin

    Sharks : most wonderful and powerful need to be more protect of cruality and brutality killed.
    this predator need to survive, it’s useful for the balance of the ocean.

    Thanks Chris for your great pictures

  • bawasi

    what an interesting story i will b looking forward to see more of this amazing information about the shark

  • mdrigg

    wow thats awsome

  • […] Sharks: Pictures of Great Whites Snatching Prey From the […]

  • Vito Maulucci

    AMAZING!!!!….Save the Sharks!

  • Bader

    One of the best shots i have seen . i wonder how can compete this great photographer.

  • ERIKA

    Nunca vi fotos tão lindas de tubarões!!!!

  • diego

    you’re taking a picture of the bite minutes before the attack, you have 2 cameras both sides, to emphasize a single bite or use the Panorama option in the camera out of the water is like a challenge because there is no way to do something like that

  • Zombie

    Great photos. I used to Scuba dive..saw a Tiger Shark during a dive, amazing creature

  • Tony DeMaio

    Your photography skills are simply AWESOME! I have an autographed print, and have your book on the coffee table. I hope your photos will help show just what a wonderful animal this is. I hope that I’m not around to hear of the last one being slung on a dock somewhere.

    GOD BLESS

  • Raja

    Thanks mate, U are an Sea Super Hero

  • anum khan

    amazing

  • wahyu jco soelistio

    TRULY EXTRAORDINARY

  • Rosanne105

    What awe inspiring pics! I love National Geographic am amazed every month. Keep up the good work.

  • Nat Nat

    Wow! Beautiful, Amazing and scary)))

  • Hartono heru

    ……………………………
    ……………………………
    (I’m speechless)

  • Donna

    Exquisite photography of a truly magnificent yet terrifying creature. Loved the article with the personal reflections, too. What an incredible career.

  • Viv

    WOW…

  • […] Sky Sharks: Pictures of Super-Predators Snatching Prey From the Air […]

  • […] Chris Fallows’ amazing photographs on National Geographic. […]

  • Sue

    Magnificent photos of such breathtaking animals. Love seeing and reading such marvelous work on Nat Geo since I’m landlocked. I love collecting photos that are mind blowing like these are just so I can see them again and again. While I may never get the chance to see such amazing animals in person, I am so glad to know they exist and live in the wild. Thank you, Chris, for bringing them to me.

  • ravin Kumar

    i would rather love to know that from which source name “SHARK” is being originated? what is the meaning of this word…! love your work for the people!!

  • […] from: Sky Sharks: Pictures of Super-Predators Snatching Prey From the … Tags: april, hunting, idea, intensity, lucky, patrol, place, predatory, september, sharks, takes, […]

  • Gloria Iniguez

    Maravillosas criaturas! increibles fotos. gracias y felicidades por su buen trabajo! fue una deleite para mi disfrutarlas. Thanks and Congratulatios!!!!

  • Suzanne

    stunning photos. and the commentary was excellent as well. thanks so very much for sharing these experiences. i have often wondered what it might be like to sit atop a whale carcass when great whites were feeding! 🙂

  • Shawn

    Outstanding pictures!!

  • akram

    please,visit my page that speaks on the protection of sharks http://www.facebook.com/pages/protection-des-requins/209755249068942?sk=wall

  • Chris

    To read this story make you thinking different than the storys you hear from other people, which are mostly based on anti shark feelings. I know it , but other people think different. This is an very good example of truth!.

  • rommel magalong

    CLAP CLAP CLAP!!! beautifula and stunning pictures!!! WOW! every shot was amazing!!! nice article too 😉 keep safe from the sharks hehehe

  • rajan

    i am a nature and wild animals lover.. and i really really love this photos..

  • Chantal Adams

    these pictures are amazing. i cannot imagine the amount of patience one needs to have to capture shots like these. well done your work speaks for itself

  • Jeffersone M Umbana

    everything is an outstanding photos i will learn lots of things from this… xD.

  • Robert Simpson

    As an Underwater photographer and Instructor I appreciate what you had to do to get such wonderful shots, I really enjoyed your article and photo’s.

  • Alex

    nice fish)

  • Ignatius

    Thanks Chris. Awesome, breathtaking snaps. I’m envious that you were there and grateful that you cared to share it with us, unfortunates who weren’t there….
    Thank you so much and wish you many many more years of happy filming and witnessing nature’s beauty.

  • Khalid Gaffer

    Impressive photos & great done job!

  • Carlos Fuentes

    Gorgeous pictures. Congratulations to both of you, excellent photographers and scientists. Let the world know the beautiful creation and magnificence of these creatures.
    Keep on publicizing such great masterpieces of photography and knowledge. Thank you, deeply.

  • Mahdi

    I WISH TO BE THERE TO SEE THE FIRSTE VIEWER

  • […] All photos and accompanying text are courtesy of National Geographic’s NewWatch blog. […]

  • geonerstiem

    🙂

  • Beth Girvan

    I thoroughly enjoyed the experience through your amazing pictures. Thank you for sharing

  • Francois D.

    Thank you both for this great article and great photos. I’m sure that people don’t realise the amount of time and efforts that is required to make such an article. I certainly don’t and would like to thank you for it.

    Please, keep feeding the world about your research. It’s people like both of you that helps us to better understand our planet.

  • Mohammad Abo Ayman

    Mohammad Abdur-Rahman, Egyptian in Qatar; …..
    The pics are marvellous, yet the pics’ takers are more marvellous. They are real heroes to have patience and courage to fight for these expert shots. Thanks a lot to Chris and Monique for giving us all such pleasures.

  • Carol Gillette

    Excellent shots. I know they have to eat, but I’m still rooting for the seals and the dolphins!

  • leticia

    Adorei as fotos! Parabéns. Usarei as imagens para dar aulas de arte =)
    Incredible photos!

  • loubna

    c est manifique et verry good pictures , me gusta mucho las fotos es mamama

  • Abbas J. Safi

    Fantastic photos, splendid shots, sincere job, and blessed efforts as a whole.

  • ali

    thank u, they are so beutiful pictures.

  • Rex Harrison

    Fantastic photos.
    One of my favourites is of the Orca – it’s like being there with it and having the land in the background gives a slightly unusual perspective on what one usually gets in pictures at sea. Fabulous stuff, Chris, but all the same, rather you than me! Good fortune and good hunting.

  • Aarón

    Amazing photos, wish to be there with those wonderful animals.

  • Kate Aubart

    I know it sounds weird someone commenting from the middle of the US, but I do travel and have had a fascination with sharks since I was a kid. I went to Cape Town, South Africa a couple of years ago and had the pleasure of doing a cage snorkel with the flying sharks. It was one of the best experiences of my life! I have also signed several petitions to ban shark finning and will continue to do so. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos!

  • Adel Noor

    Nice photo

  • Nasih

    THANK U FOR SHARING AND WISH U GOOD LUCK FOR THE COMING YEARS ,PLS HELP US TO STOP CRIMES AGAINST NATURE ,,
    MALDIVES IS 99% SEA AREA AND 1% LAND SO I SURE LOTS OF SHARKS COULD BE THERE!!!!
    ENJOY THE WORK ,,KEEP IT UP

  • Tahir

    His creation fascinates us. So should we not be in awe of Creator of this Universe.
    Excellent , dedicated work of Mr.Chris Fallows.

  • Nagarajappa

    Fantastic. Thanks for sharing with all. My best wishes are with you in your work and life.

  • […] Essas fotos não são montagem não, amigo. Direto da National Geographic. […]

  • Galia

    Wonderful , Wonderful , Wonderful !
    Thank you so much

  • Arjan Rajasuriya

    Awesome photos. your close interaction with the animals bring to light the true nature of these denizens of the open sea.

  • Victoria Renard

    I want a coffee table book of these photos.

  • Nancy H

    Wow! Just ‘wow’ for the animals, ‘wow’ for the photographs… wonderful to see!

  • Ranjan Goswami

    amazing picture. I really like it.

  • abdocrosso

    thanks man. it’s beautifull and amazing photos …. good luck ..my frend…..

  • Alex Ferri

    Most of us here know about the massacre of the most important species in our Oceans. Most sharks only have one or two pups every three years because they are Apex predators. Nature already balanced them out, if they bred like rabbits there would be no fish in the Ocean. Yet as always we are destroying that essential balance of the most important eco system we all depend on for life.
    Sharks need to be protected and urgent! I live in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and used to go diving to see Bull Sharks. They were beautiful and humbling to see, yet as Mexico like most other countries have no fishing laws and the ones that do exist just consider the Ocean as an endless bucket of fish, they have disappeared. In november I was witness to a fisherman who came ashore with SEVEN female bull sharks in gestation. They paid him $80 per dead shark.. I used to pay $150 just to go diving and SEE them. Add that math up, talk about a nice way of destroying a source of income for others. Then there are always the few who ruin it for the others, a place called Phantom Divers used to take out people and feed them. Of course this made them relate humans and food and was probably the cause of a few attacks over the past year here plus it makes it easier for fishermen to fish them. So if any of you go Diving anywhere round the world please dont go and feed them as its not good for them in the Long Run.
    Amazing pictures, I hope these images can educate and fascinate people enough to want to save them.

  • Servasy F D

    That was the best photos I ever seen. Better than photos of my encyclopedia books. Amazing! Wonderful! Incredible!

  • Servasy F D

    that was the best photos I ever seen. Better than photos of my encyclopedia books. Amazing! Incredible! Wonderful!

  • Sonja

    SHARKS ARE THE CLEANERS OF THE OCEAN AND PLAY A VITAL ROLL IN KEEPING OUR OCEANS IN BALANCE.

  • trish franson

    Absolutely beautiful! You definetly have an eye for catching the beauty and moment in which to cease it. Keep it coming and thanks for sharing. Stay safe!

  • ora_oul

    Fantastics! I have never seen these pictures before !

  • thansingh sahu

    Those pictures are fascinating and I respect sharks, but they are the reason I won’t swim in the ocean.

  • Kim Watkins

    You need to turn these photos into a book my friend. They are awesome and take us to a place many of us will never get to. Keep up the good work.
    A fellow photographer,
    Kim

  • priyal patel

    nice pics……….lovely…….
    incrdeble job!!………
    expecting 2 meet this guy someday…………
    as world is round…………
    we would meet…………..
    nice work……..keep it up……
    n m a grate FAN of him………..
    supurb job…….
    even me i have been living in africa…….for many
    y

  • priyal patel

    nice pics……….lovely…….
    incrdeble job!!………
    expecting 2 meet this guy someday…………
    as world is round…………
    we would meet…………..
    nice work……..keep it up……
    n m a grate FAN of him………..
    supurb job…….
    even me i have been living in africa…….for many
    years n really appriciate the bueaty of it……….
    THANKS 4 SHARING!!
    GOD BLESS U!!
    ^_^

  • rhea palmero

    fantastic and educational.

  • […] Sky Sharks: Pictures of Super-Predators Snatching Prey From the Air Air Jaws Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows, http://www.apexpredators.com […]

  • atefe

    thanks chris and monique
    so beautiful

  • Murray Hott

    Thank you so much for sharing these amazing photos with us. I have watched several programs on these aerobatic sharks. I have been trying to find prints that I can purchase of Great Whites breaching the water after there prey. I may have found my source. Best wishes to you both!!

  • Morena Da Mata

    Amazing, Incredible, Fabulous!
    Congratulations for your work, keep on doing this and tahnk you for sharing with us!

    Morena Da Mata.

  • […] It happened on Monday near Seal island, off Mossel Bay, in a part of the ocean famous for its “flying” sharks. (View the photo gallery Sky Sharks: Pictures of Super-Predators Snatching Prey From the Air.) […]

  • […] It happened on Monday near Seal island, off Mossel Bay, in a part of the ocean famous for its “flying” sharks. (View the photo gallery Sky Sharks: Pictures of Super-Predators Snatching Prey From the Air.) […]

  • James Smith

    Not one picture shows a shark snatching prey from the air. Their normal attack mode is to approach from underneath at high speed and hit once with a killing blow. This might knock the seal or other prey into the air or the shark might exit the water with the prey in its mouth but they do not grab flying prey.

    I would expect National Geographic and especially this photographer to know better and not engage in obliviously untrue hyperbole.

  • Kevin de Lange

    Really awesome and stunning photography…by far the best I’ve ever seen. Much respect to the photographer and his work with sharks.
    However, I’d like to point out that these sharks don’t ‘snatch prey from the air’. What they’re doing is launching themselves, in attack from the bottom, and breaching as a result.
    I would not have expected such poor reporting from National Geographic, especially not in the article title…it smacks of sensationalism, and is poorly researched.

  • Anaz

    wow…… These photos are amazing

  • Anaz

    These photos are awesome and I was amazed and thrilled at your photos. Congratulations for your work

  • Akuila

    Awesome photos, a great wonder of nature.

  • mimi

    wonderfull im scared of sharks but they look cool to.

  • Teshome

    An extrimly amazing pics.

  • AMRINDER KALKAT

    frnz dis collection s d best amoung al d pics i ve evr seen dis s wat a reeel deep blue looks lik …awsum ..beatiful piece of work wel done expectin more pics pls send mi on ma email id ….thanx a lot 4 showing real blue

  • ron

    spectacular photos well done

  • Emma@GreenGlobalTravel

    I love this article. It really shows the beauty of these animals, and that they aren’t just mindless killing machines. Amazing photos as well!

  • […] And THIS is why I think Great Whites are beautiful! Taken by Chris Fallows in South Africa. Read about him and his wife Monique’s process and the habitat they work in when photographing these denizens of the deep. I collect postcards by Chris Fallows as he really does take the best photographs of the Great White. There is another spellbinding article by Chris here […]

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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