How to Take Great Marine Life Photos

Between the reflection off the water and the movement of your boat or kayak, these shots can be tough. Some tips:

  • Avoid using a flash, to mitigate reflections and possible distractions.
  • Use a fast shutter speed to help compensate for all the movement.
  • Use a polarizer to cut reflections and enrich colors.
  • Don't pursue or call out to the animal. Not only will it scare him, but it typically doesn't work. Meanwhile, harassing wildlife is illegal ($1,000 fine and jail time).
  • Play hard to get. Doing something interesting—focusing your attention elsewhere, twirling some keys—without seeming to look at the animal may get, say, an otter's attention and he'll approach you instead.
  • Be Ethical. Read on for safe, health wildlife viewing habits.

How to Behave Around Marine Life

  • Keep Your Distance. At least 100 yards away—and don't get between a mother and young.
  • Keep it brief. Limit close viewing to half an hour.
  • Don't take up too much space. If you're with other people and paddling in areas with lots of whale activity, stay with your group rather then spreading out.
  • Watch for distress: repeated noises, erratic swimming, charging at interlopers, shielding their young, or erratic tail movements.


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