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Where angelfish fear to tread

Where angelfish fear to tread | Cape Cod LIFE August 2016

Photography courtesy of Ethan Daniels

Daniels has also photographed different shark species, including blues. “They are very inquisitive,” he says, but not so dangerous. In Indonesia, he comes across small reef sharks most often, adding that many of the larger sharks have been fished out.

He has photographed great whites as well, including once while in an underwater cage. Daniels says most predators in the water, such as great whites, attack their prey from behind or below, and that’s why it is not good to go diving or snorkeling when visibility is poor. “Nothing is certain in the water,” he says. “If you see it, you’re in good shape.”

Daniels also works in freshwater lakes, and marine or saltwater lakes. The latter are often remote and may require a rigorous climb to reach, but encountering rarely seen endemic life is the photographer’s reward.

Daniels favors wide-angle lenses, which allow him to focus on a subject—a turtle, for example—while still capturing a good amount of the animal’s surroundings and background in the pictures. He uses a “close focus, wide angle” technique, and sometimes he gets very close to his subjects; there are times he will be just an inch away from a snapping turtle or other animal. What makes for an ideal underwater image? “You’re trying to find a fish or turtle that works with you,” he says.

In 2010 Daniels published his first book of photography, Under Cape Cod Waters. It features many photos shot in Pleasant Bay, and also covers the ecology and natural history of the Cape. One discovery Daniels made while researching the book was that there are snapping turtles aplenty in Cape Cod lakes. He also sees bass, pickerel, sunfish, herring, painted turtles, musk turtles, frogs, and snakes, including the black racer. “They like to hunt the frogs and things right around the edge,” he says.

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