Behind the scenes of Marine Sanctuary Enforcement in Palau

As the worlds oceans become overfished to the point of species extinction and ecosystem collapse, it becomes increasingly important to prioritize sanctuaries and no take zones. Of course those that want to fish will do so illegally regardless of the laws in place. That is why Palau has continued to increase it’s capacity for Policing it’s EEZ and National Marine Sanctuary.

In my capacity as a media producer I can help document this effort to raise awareness.

Now with the latest surveillance operation concluded I thought I would share some photos of the aerial component.

Flying with Pacific Mission Aviation in a Beech Queen Air Excalibur, daily sorties go out and conduct searches over vast tracts of ocean within Palau’s EEZ. The patrol boats are in the area but cannot cover such a huge area in the same time.

The hatch in the tail of the aircraft allows an observer to take high resolution photos of suspected illegal fishing boats

Each flight lasts about 8-9 hours and does an expanding square pattern out from a central point determined by visibility and altitude.

All eyes are pealed as we search

Aerial observation from 2000ft

My job apart from being an observer is to provide documentary evidence so we employed GoPros attached to key parts of the aircraft.

Part of this is also for promotion and as part of the remit was to include the aircraft in the shot with 3 patrol boats I proposed that we have a GoPro attached to the wing looking back at the aircraft and then have the plane fly just in front of the boats in formation.

We trialled it first with just the housings attached and found the sticky mounts were not strong enough when the aircraft descended in a dive……about 150Knots, the result…we out both the housings. So we took to attaching them a bit more securely with bolts and this time around they survived and did so with very little vibration and rolling shutter issues.

The above video shows how precisely the pilot maneuvered the plane. We set up a WiFi link to an iPad inside the plane so the pilot could see in real time the view from the camera. At one point the plane was close to 70 ft above the water doing over 100mph banking at 45 degrees…..quite a rush.

The end result was two apprehended illegal fishing boats loaded with illegally caught fish.

5D3 and 4K with Magic Lantern…

Hi,

I don’t know how many out there are still using this combination, I feel….. I know, on my island, I’m the only one, and that makes me nervous but excited at the same time.

I love the bleeding edge. I don’t have the money to gamble a test on my own $2.5K camera body with new firmware on a regular basis, but will bite the bullet once some guinea pigs have gone first….

What gets me though is the latitude inherent in the 5D3. It seems that Canon put a C700 system in a DSLR body and restricted it, but at the same time left the door open…

That was what I was gambling on.

Super 35mm 4K comes to Canon 5D Mark III in new Magic Lantern module – IT’S REAL

Full credit to the guys who work the code. Hats off to you A1ex and co.

 

Regards and thanks

 

Richard

 

 

New film project started today in Kayangel

Hi,

Just got back from filming up in the north of Palau and wanted to share this with you:

Great conditions prevailed after a stormy night but we went up to Kayangel to do some pre-production scouting and subject tests for a new project based on the northern reefs and islands in Palau.

I could not have asked for a better start.

Watch this space to see how this project develops

Cheers

Richard

Slow shutter speed using ND filters for Time-lapse

Hi,

I’ve been struggling with panning time-lapses and Circular Polarizers since…well since I started using the combination. The sky is never consistent and the darkening effect uneven.. So I invested in a professional level ND filter system from Lee, a UK based filter company.

It’s not cheap to start but the quality is incredible. There is no colour cast on the image, all the filters do is limit the light. This means I can either open up the iris for really shallow depth of field or keep the shutter open for much longer and still have a properly exposed shot.

This shutter dragging is what I’ve been looking for with Time-lapse sequences and the Lee system allows me to stack multiple filters together to really dial in the effect. The system also allows me to start with say 3 filters then as the sun goes down I can remove them one at a time whilst adjusting the camera’s exposure to transition from day to night.

Yesterday was the first field test so I packed my gear and headed for one of Palau’s secluded waterfalls.

Using a 0.75 filter I could drag the shutter to 1.3 seconds blurring the water nicely.

 

Watch this space for more insights into these freshwater environments or check out this section of my portfolio for creatures I’ve already filmed at other waterfall and freshwater locations in Palau.

 

Cheers

 

Richard

Winged Ambassadors of Palau

Many thousands of migratory shorebirds stop-over in Palau to rest and feed, one of them is the Whimbrel. In Palau it is called the Okak. The Okak has a larger much rarer cousin, the Far Eastern Curlew, so rare only around 5 birds get spotted here each year. This is the largest species of Curlew and is also know in Palauan tradition as the money bird. The story goes that it visits these shores and leaves gifts behind. It swallowed traditional money and flew to parts of Palau, where if it was left to settle and not disturbed it would eventually defecate out the money and the residents would become rich.

You can find the symbols all over traditional meeting housings and Government buildings.

The money bird as depicted on the Capital Building, Melekeok.

Today I utilized my new canon 70-300 lens coupled to a 2x teleconverter and managed to get some nice stable footage of this Whimbrel even at full zoom. The Image stabilization of the canon lens is amazing!

The Whimbrel also known as the Okak

 

10 things I’ve learnt from 10 years of Media Production in Palau

I’ve been a Media Producer in various guises in Palau for 10 years now, initially as an underwater cameraman with a little bit of topside work thrown in, then diversifying into Time-lapse, run n’ gun, aerials (drone and aircraft), interviews etc.

Palau has changed a lot in those 10 years and this has made me change with it.

Here are 10 things (actually 11) I’ve learned about Media Production in that time:

  1. Now more than ever people have cameras, as a dedicated cameraman I’m being squeezed by the ready availability of cameras. Everyone over the age of 5 seems to have one (gross over generalization, I know). So now more than ever I have to be inventive with my imaging, flexibility and the old cliche of thinking outside the box are more important than ever before. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques, think about a sequence or image you want to acquire, no matter how crazy or impossible it first appears to be, then work out how to do it. Dare to be different.
Go Pro sticky pads are very sticky….I’m in the cabin with a WiFi feed to my iPad directing the pilot for good framing…..
Underwater Time-lapse of Coral Bleaching using a firmware hack to provide my Canon with an intervalometer, repeat visits over a 4 month period.

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Why you should dive Balicasag Island

Should you find yourself in the Bohol/Panglau region of the Philippines and you’re a diver, there is a place I can thoroughly recommend. Even if you’re not a diver, this place could possibly persuade you to be one.
Every dive shop in the area offers trips there, because it is so good, it’s unavoidable in fact I would say. As soon as the weather is good enough they said, “we’ll go”.
So, with a recommendation like that and a shop like Philippine Fun Divers providing me with good rental gear, a great boat taking me there and expert guides I couldn’t really refuse.
Good thing I didn’t, because even though the weather was still a bit….”marginal” the diving was anything but that.
Once the Banka boat had approached the low lying sand fringed island, myself and the 2 other divers got geared up, had a briefing from our DM Greg and we got in. Almost immediately I’m seeing stuff I’d not seen before or multitudes of critters I see rarely. One of my favorites is the little Tobies or Pufferfish.

The little Tobies and Pufferfish often have highly reflective markings that when hit by your lights really shine.

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Palau’s Extreme Reefs

Palau’s northernmost island Ngurangel and it’s southernmost Helen Reef are separated by little over 400 miles of island peppered ocean but are remarkably similar. Both are low lying sandy features surrounded by huge atoll reefs which makes them a haven for both marine and bird life.

Helen Reef filmed during an illegal fishing observer mission

Helen reef  is a long thin spit of land, sparsely vegetated and has a resident population of 4 rangers, 3 dogs and about 5000 sea birds. The rangers have their own accommodations and  keep an eye out for illegal fishing activities. It lies closer to Indonesia than it does Palau’s capital Koror.

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