Beach-goers pack the shores and swim in the Pacific Ocean along California's coast, but many do not realize that only a few feet into the ocean they will encounter one of the largest gatherings in the world of leopard sharks.
Photographer Ian Shive (right) and drone operator Trystan Snodgrass (left) use the drones to scout the best locations to find leopard sharks.
Water visibility can be a challenge, but when viewed from the air using a drone, you are able to see what is swimming much more easily. Once Mermaid Linden was in the water with her tail, we were able to see how the nearby leopard sharks would react.
Photographer Ian Shive helps Mermaid Linden out of the ocean, with assitance from drone operator Trystan Snodgrass. The tail adds 50lbs to Linden's normal body weight!
Mermaid Linden Wolbert wants to be a true-to-form, authentic mermaid, so she doesn't use a mask or goggles (or a snorkel!). This means she is not only tucked tighly into her tail, but that she must remain swimming in the tail and using breathholds to dive below the surface.
Visibility was a massive challenege when photographing hte sharks. Once in the water, silt and debrie churned up from the waves (especially in shallow water) made getting any great level of detail super challenging.
After seeing these results, Ian knows that a drone will be the best way to appreciate the shark gathering.
The money shot! Getting both a mermaid and a shark in a single frame is no easy task. Mermaids may be a mythical creature, but sharks don't have to become one, too. Using her "mermaiding" as a tool to educate kids and adults, Linden has helped draw attention to shark and ocean conservation efforts. Afterall, who doesn't love a mermaid?
From the air you can truly appreciate the scale of this gathering of leopard sharks, which is one of the largest in the world.
The drone operator not only was able to capture tons of sharks in each frame, but also photographed Ian Shive and Mermaid Linden as the sharks swam around them.