A well-known common snapping turtle devours a flounder in a North Florida Spring, Florida, USA. This image was recently awarded in Underwater Photographer of the Year 2023
Our latest Photographer of the Week, Bryant Turffs, is a born and raised Floridian. Growing up on the Gulf coast of the Sunshine State, he developed an interest in the underwater world through fishing, which later turned into a passion for diving. Bryant says, as it turned out, he really just liked observing fish and didn’t need to catch them.
While studying environmental science in college, Bryant spent most of his free time off campus as a research assistant with Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research and earned both his dive instructor certification and first captain’s license concurrently. After school, he took jobs based on the adventure they afforded, including working as a dive instructor on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and completed a circumnavigation as captain on S/Y Argo, a classically rigged schooner operated by Seamester.
In 2016, Bryant made three big moves. First, back to south Florida. Then, having previously been only a topside photographer, he invested in his first proper underwater camera. Third, with his partner, Bryant co-founded the Florida Manta Project, the first dedicated long-term study of manta rays in Florida waters. This ongoing study, now part of the Marine Megafauna Foundation, has found that Florida is home to a rare and critical nursery habitat for juvenile manta rays, and that these rays are threatened by human activities including fishing and boating.
As you can see, Bryant’s portfolio features several of these special Florida mantas. The Ikelite Ambassador also spends a lot of his time photographing in Florida’s extensive freshwater ecosystems, with his excellent images of snapping turtles—not something you see every day—recently impressing the photography competition judges.
A juvenile manta ray passing just offshore the developed coastline of South Florida, USA
Introduced peacock bass in a South Florida waterway, Florida, USA
Common snapping turtle floating in the crystal-clear waters of a Florida spring, Florida, USA
Skye, a manta well known to the Florida Manta Project team, Florida, USA
A common octopus moves over a shallow reef, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean
Fuzzy Florida manatee coming up to inspect Bryant’s camera, Florida, USA
Common snapping turtle grabbing a freshwater flounder, Florida, USA
A manta and freediver share a moment, Florida, USA
Freediving in some stellar sun rays, Florida, USA
It isn’t just mantas in Florida! Eagles rays cruise the shallows too, Florida, USA
One of the goofiest looking turtles, a Florida softshell with her oversized feet, Florida, USA
Green sea turtle snatching a breath just offshore, Florida, USA
To see more of Bryant’s fantastic work, visit his Instagram page or his website, www.bryantturffs.com.
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