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Dec 212013
 

Jun 102013
 

Snorkling with whalesharks

Earlier this month I had the privelege of spending two weeks exploring the underwater world of the Maldives for Duiken (“Diving”) Magazine.

High on the wishlist was an encounter with whalesharks and boy, did I NOT get disappointed! Part two of my blog is now online (sorry, in Dutch, you’ll have to use translate) at the website: goo.gl/sF3ya

Vilamendhoo Island – The Maldives.
Client: DUIKEN Magazine
© 2013 www.rudgr.com

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Canon 5D3 plus 15mm fisheye
Uk-germany Housing
2 Inon Z240 Strobes

May 242013
 

Happy Turtle

This fellow was brilliant, he (or she) was so curious that I had to push him away twice because he was about to eat my whole camera. Might have cost me some scratches on my fisheye domeport but I got some amazing shots to take home (can’t post them yet though).

Vilamendhoo Island – The Maldives.
Client: DUIKEN Magazine

Canon 5D3 plus 15mm fisheye
Uk-germany Housing
2 Inon Z240 Strobes

Jan 312013
 

Stingray City, Cayman Islands.

One of the most popular diving (snorkling) spots in the Caribbean has got to be Stingray City, Grand Cayman.

It may be that stingrays began gathering in the area decades ago when fisherman returned from an excursion, navigated behind a reef into the sound, and cleaned their fish in the calm water of the shallows and sandbar area. The fish guts were thrown overboard and the stingrays eventually congregated to feast on the discarded guts. Soon the stingrays associated the sound of a boat engine with food. As this practice turned into a tradition, divers realized that the stingrays could be fed by hand.

So, nowadays loads of divers and snorklers get the chance to experience these gentle creatures (unless your name is Steve Irwin) and they make for a great photo-opp!

I must say I really enjoyed shooting here, even though I normally am not in favor of feeding fish for photos but it mostly seemed to be harmless for rays and people.

More photos from this trip here!

Canon 5D in a UK-GERMANY housing.
1/200 f/9 ISO125
1x Canon Speedlite 580 EX II (UK-GERMANY housing too).

November 9th 2009

Jan 022013
 

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2013 (New Years Dive)
Ready to rumble!
Photo: Kevin Verkruijssen

Every year, 10.000 crazy Dutchies jump into the 7 degree water (44°F) of the North Sea to celebrate the new year! These photo were taken with my pro-underwater photo gear while wearing my drysuit. Took the plunge myself later that day just for the fun of it

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2013 (New Years Dive)
January 1st, 12:01 – The madness is GO!!!

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2013 (New Years Dive)

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2013 (New Years Dive) - That's me in the circle!
Photo: Joey Timmer

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2013 (New Years Dive)

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2013 (New Years Dive)

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2013 (New Years Dive)

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2013 (New Years Dive)
Two hours later, I’m off myself! :-)
Photo: Kevin Verkruijssen

Dec 282012
 

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Incredible reefs at Eastpoint.

It has been a Caribbean island’s best kept secret for years – maybe you’ve heard some stories but not too many people have found a way to actually get there. Curaçao ‘s incredible east point diving has been talked about for years – no, call it: bragged about for years as the best diving site of the region. An area the size of St. Martin (St. Maarten) on the south-east tip of this island has been in private hand by the Maal family for centuries. Despite the fact that they would like to develop it for tourism purposes they have continuously been blocked doing so by the Curaçao government. What stayed is a huge wilderness area and supposedly almost unspoiled coral reefs, a rarity in this part of the world.

Since the area is private property and outside access is rarely allowed by the family, the only way to get here is by boat. Niels Jorissen from DiveCharterCuracao has been the first to do so on a commercial basis, bringing small groups of 7-8 divers by Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB). Since conditions have to be good for diving the east (rough seas are the main spoiler) he also does trips to more common destinations like the famous Mushroom Forest and Wata Mula, always in small groups in order to maintain a good diving experience. But as he says “the best is east”.

It’s mid-December as I join Niels from Caracasbaai, a famous and very popular area among tourists and permanent residents. Dark clouds gather in the distance, but according to Niels we’ll be floating in sunshine in less than an hour; “what falls now, won’t fall later at open sea”. Once his RIB is in the water, we check our belongings, gear up and set everything up at the boat. With 7 divers things are tight but comfortable. The power handle is opened, the warm breeze floats across my face and I close my eyes in anticipation and excitement. After plenty times of diving with Niels the past years I finally make it to the Eastpoint, on a glorious day as well!

Roughly half an hour later we are ready to go, it turns out there is hardly any current, a bit of a rarity. Good for us! The dive plan is simple: Love Cave to Tarpon Bridge, the first aptly named after a couple of mating Nurse sharks found here a few years ago, the latter after a massive underwater bridge frequented by schools of Tarpon. “Take it easy if you see them, let them come to you and you’ll be almost within touching distance if lucky” Niels says before we finally enter the water. Unfortunately there are no Nurse sharks to be found in the cave, but it is still a wonderful sight to see, nicely overgrown with soft corals in the front. Just lying still to enjoy the view is the best way to experience it, even when diving with 7 others. Once the group has left I just silently enjoy it a little more. 24 hours ago I was stuck in an airplane for eleven hours, now I am totally zoned out on beauty.

Diving Curaçao's East Point
The Love Cave.

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Corals in abundance.

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Tarpon Bridge without the tarpons.

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Loads of sponges everywhere.

Because of rougher conditions, hard corals are much rarer to find here, but soft corals are plentiful. Since nobody has the means of killing off Lionfish in this area they seem to be around in huge numbers. Funny enough: so seem the schools of small fish. I guess they mostly prey on the species that are close to the corals, the huge number of Damselfish seem to be able to escape the slaughter taking place all over the Caribbean. After arriving at the Tarpon bridge it turns out to be an amazing sight as well. However, lucking out again: no Tarpons to be seen. I guess they’re out with the Nurse sharks. Time to end the dive and relax a little.

Relaxation is literally around the corner where a very shallow lagoon protects us from the (small) waves, it’s time for lunch and drinks and to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the East. The Maal family may call it rubbish-bush in need of development, we kind of think the opposite. Perhaps it is a good idea to leave it like it is, there are plenty of hotels already and the pristine nature and reefs could do with the current low-key attention. Underneath our boat some huge Starfish seem to have gathered “it’s the only place on the island where you find these in numbers” we are told. It certainly makes for a great photo-opp and our surface interval turns out mostly submerged.

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Surface interval.

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Loads of big starfish.

Since there are only so much sandwiches you can eat, it is time to head out “we’ve kept the best till last, that’s why we named it Best Reef” Niels tries to add to our excitement. And as soon as we enter the water we understand why. “Shark!” is called before we’re even ready to descent. A massive 7 feet Nurse shark is lying at 30 feet, totally relaxed and we all manage to take a photo turn by turn without the animal even raising a fin. I’ve never been able to get close to one that was full out in the water so this one makes up for all the times I’ve tried and failed miserably. I’m literally lying next to it, dwarfed at least by a full foot. What a stunning creature.

The reef itself is even more mind-blowing: row after row of soft corals in perfect condition. It seems to be a never ending field of softly waving jungle out here. No matter how far we try to look ahead: it’s just corals, corals and more corals. With the light coming in from the right angle it is hard not to burst out in tears or shout your enjoyment. This is what you dive for, this is what want to see. This is truly Curacao at its best!

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Hello Nurse shark!

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Corals,

Diving Curaçao's East Point
corals,

Diving Curaçao's East Point
and more corals.

Diving Curaçao's East Point
Best reef diving on the island, no doubt about it!

Jul 182012
 

Three mouths that feed in Dutch Waters.
Taken on a dive in the Grevelingen (Southwest Netherlands), Zeeland (Den Osse divesite)

Sagartiogeton undatus (Small snakelocks anemone)
Sagartiogeton undatus (Small snakelocks anemone)

Urticina felina (Dahlia anemone)
Urticina felina (Dahlia anemone)

Metridium senile (Plumose anemone)
Metridium senile (Plumose anemone)

Jun 092012
 

Article on the excellent diving in Jordan (Aqaba to be precise) for Duikmagazine, published in February 2012. Besides diving it also explores the truly amazing sights to be seen above water and the more than friendly people of this fantastic country. If you’d like to avoid the masses in Egypt, this might just be your place!

May 302012
 
May 252012
 

Whaleshark in Gabr el-Bint, Dahab (Egypt)

Our 2012 trip to Dahab for Duiken has come to an end. Read the blog here, we had some truly amazing encounters!