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Photographer of the Week – Andrea Whitaker
By Matthew Sullivan, September 28, 2023 @ 06:00 AM (EST)

A female paper nautilus, photographed over deep water off Palm Beach, Florida, USA
 

Our latest Photographer of the Week is Florida-based shooter, Andrea Whitaker. While Andrea is talented in all regards of underwater shooting and has traveled all over the globe, for her portfolio here she has chosen to exhibit her blackwater photography. It is filled with all sorts of weird, wacky, and fantastically named creatures, photographed far offshore, late at night, floating in the inky blackness of the open ocean.

Andrea has her bachelor’s degree in biology, primarily focused on environmental ecology and evolution studying, of all things, plants. However, when she moved to Florida in 2012, she began to shift her focus towards marine ecosystems and her passion for a diving career flourished. By 2014, she had caught the underwater photography bug. Creating underwater pictures allowed her to pursue and capture images of creatures and behaviors that many others may never get to see. Underwater photography became an activity that satiated both her scientific and artistic sides. 

In addition to running underwater photography workshops in Palm Beach, Florida, Andrea is an avid blackwater diver with Pura Vida Divers and Walkers Dive Charters—two staples of the south Florida diving community. Andrea and others have been working directly with scientists from the Smithsonian and Natural History Museum on the identification of critters unknown to science, never before seen behaviors, and new blackwater diving hotspots. Andrea’s blackwater images have been printed in several scientific papers, and she says that bridging the gap between science and art, wonder and knowledge, has been the best part of her career thus far.
 

Among the cutest of all blackwater subjects, a larval pancake batfish, taken by surprise, Florida, USA
 

Featuring some gnarly horns, this is the larvae of the aptly named armored searobin, Florida, USA
 

The fish with perhaps the greatest name on Earth, the bony-eared assfish, Florida, USA
 

A larval moray eel twists itself into a ribbon shape, supposedly a defense mechanism, Florida, USA
 

A common sight on blackwater dives in Florida, a diminutive flying fish, Florida, USA
 

A deepwater gibberfish! A rare, and incredibly cool and unusual blackwater subject, Florida, USA
 

A beautiful larval ribbonfish floats mesmerizingly in the black, Florida, USA
 

A larval searobin flares its massive pectoral fins for the camera, Florida, USA
 

Enope squid are familiar blackwater subjects for divers the world over; this is a sharpear enope squid, Florida, USA
 

Another fish with a great name, the snaketooth swallower, Florida, USA
 

The variety of blackwater subjects is endless, and this larval tripodfish, flaring its fins for the camera, is making its case for being one of the favorites, Florida, USA
 

Not to be outdone, a different tripodfish species shows off its exquisite fins, Florida, USA

 

A small argonaut (paper nautilus) riding a pelagic snail. Florida, USA

 

Just because they are invasive, they are no less beautiful. A larval lionfish flaring its fins in the blackness. Florida, USA

 

To see more of Andrea’s beautiful blackwater photography or her other sensational images, please follow her on Instagram and check out her website, www.followthefrophotography.com.

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