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Where angelfish fear to tread

Ethan Daniels

Photography courtesy of Ethan Daniels

Cape Cod native explores the world’s oceans to photograph rarely seen marine life

Ethan Daniels is not your ordinary photographer. He’s not even your ordinary wildlife photographer. A native of Orleans, Daniels travels the world to snorkel in exotic locations and capture images of rarely seen species of marine life.

“I prefer to shoot areas that other photographers don’t, or won’t, or can’t,” Daniels says. In past years, trendy wildlife assignments have included photographing great white sharks, he says, but more recently the most fearless photographers have been shooting blue whales, or crocodiles in Indonesia. “The only way to make a living in photography these days is to do what others are not doing. I spend a lot of time in areas like mangroves that not many other photographers go.”

A resident of El Cerrito, California, who grew up in Orleans, Daniels, 43, travels the world for his profession, spending most of his time in Indonesia. Working in these waters, he regularly photographs manta rays, octopus, squid, and cuttlefish and often comes across what he describes as “bizarre-looking” and venomous species, such as scorpion fish and spiny devilfish. Occasionally, he will encounter black-and-white-banded snakes, which he says are venomous—but docile. “It’s the most diverse part of the planet in terms of marine organizations,” he says of Indonesia.

In a recent interview at Pilgrim Lake in Orleans, Daniels talked about his work, his appreciation of nature, and some of the interesting wildlife he has come across in the world’s waters. Then, he donned his wet suit, unpacked his underwater camera, and demonstrated a day on the job with a swim and shoot in the lake, the same spot where he first learned to swim as a boy.

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