Beneath the surface...
Ever wondered what it is like to sneak a peek below the waves of Bondi Beach, the Great Barrier Reef or to adventure farther afield underwater to the Galapagos Islands or a remote coral key in the Pacific Ocean? Imagine coming face to face with a Humpback Whale or exploring an an Indonesian shipwreck as if you were a fish.
3rd Global Coral Bleaching Event Lizard Island by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Taken during 10 years of Underwater Earth expeditions, this 'Out of Sight, Out Of Mind' exhibition shows us why there’s so much to admire, love and protect in the ocean. Discover 21 specially selected sites from across the globe captured by Christophe Bailhache and curated by Lorna Parry.
Schooling Jacks (2013) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Lady Elliot Island, the southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef, considered a beacon of coral reef hope in the face of climate change, is teeming with life underwater. Bigeye trevally, also called jacks, are frequently seen schooling here.
During the day they are stationary or slow-moving around the reef complexes, but at night, these aggregations dissolve, as the fish become more active, preparing for a night of hunting for their prey.
[Tap and drag to look around the reef]
Crazy Corals (2017) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
This protected site is named for its diversity of coral formations. Corals form different shapes depending on their environment. They may be flattened in a high energy surf zone, be structured like a column in a channel with moderate current flow or form giant elevated tables in a calm, inner lagoon.
‘Crazy Corals’ is one of the more protected sites in remote Palmyra Atoll, and this protection allows the corals to grow into shapes that would never survive in other locations.
This renowned drift dive culminates in a calm, picturesque area abundant with huge lettuce corals, potentially the largest patch in the world, with some corals as high as six metres. The folds of the corals provide refuge for the many small reef fish that have made this reef reef area their home.
Connecting with a Minke Whale (2014) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Little is known about the population of Dwarf Minke Whales which visit the Great Barrier Reef each winter. Queensland is the only place in the world where special ecotourism operations allow humans to get close enough to these whales whilst in the water.
Like fingerprints are to humans, the white and grey markings on the sides of a minke whale are unique to each whale helping researchers track and study these beautiful creatures.
Rewilding - Operation Crayweed (2019) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Operation Crayweed is bringing back crayweed to Sydney Coast, a Mission Blue Hope Spot. Crayweed, a locally extinct seaweed species, is transplanted onto mesh mats allowing it to reproduce and settle onto surrounding bare rocks and provide new habitat for a diverse range of marine creatures.
Here, Derrick Cruz and Maddy Langley (UNSW Sydney and Sydney Institute of Marine Science) measure the length of a crayweed transplant at North Bondi.
Ningaloo Patchwork (2019) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Whalebone is a dive site in the heavily protected South Muiron Conservation Area, named after a whalebone that has now been washed away, grown over, or reabsorbed into the fabric of the reef.
This area is exposed to the swell and waves of the Indian Ocean meaning few branching corals can grow here. The reef, as a consequence, is dominated by a myriad of hard plating corals and stunning colourful soft corals.
Dance In The Blue (2016) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Located within the highest protection zone of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Lady Elliot Island is a haven for manta rays. There is still so much to learn about these intriguing and lesser-known giants of the sea.
Thanks to their frequent visits, Lady Elliot Island has become one of the very few worldwide research bases for mantas. Scientists track the mantas using the pattern of spots on their underbelly, believed to be as unique to a manta as fingerprints are to humans.
Last Cry For Help (2016) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
In 2016, the Great Barrier Reef suffered unprecedented mass coral bleaching as part of the Third Global Coral Bleaching Event. An estimated 30% of the Reef died as a consequence of our ocean overheating due to carbon emissions.
Lizard Island in the far northern section was particularly hard hit. This image was captured during filming for the Emmy award-winning documentary film ‘Chasing Coral’. We each have a responsibility to save such an incredible ecosystem.
The Sanctuary (2014) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Julian Rocks (local Arakwal aboriginal name, Nguthungulli) is an impressive rock formation 2.5 kilometres off the shore of Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly mainland point.
Its waters are a wildlife hotspot given the convergence of warm tropical waters from the north and cooler temperate waters from the south. The area provides shelter for more than 500 tropical and temperate fish species including these Wobbegongs seen resting here on the sandy bottom.
The Serene Gatekeeper (2012) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
The Great Barrier Reef contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs, and holds great scientific interest as the habitat of threatened species such as the dugong and the green turtle - three pictured here - can you find them?
Given we used this image to launch our first underwater Google Street View collection, more people virtual dived this image in the first month of launch than have ever actually dived in person!
Fale Bommie (2014) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
‘Fale Bommie’ is a huge Porites coral discovered by Fale Tuilagi in the ‘Valley of the Giants’ within the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Measuring in at 41 metres in circumference, and 7 metres high, this ancient giant is considered one of the largest corals on the planet.
Given this type of coral grows very slowly, as little as 1 centimetre per year, ‘Fale Bommie’ is estimated to be more than 500 years old meaning she is one of the most ancient life forms on the planet!
Gliding (2013) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
This UNESCO World Heritage site contains the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere. The system illustrates a classic example of reef types through fringing, barrier and atoll, and its seven interconnected marine protected areas provide a haven for threatened species.
Spotted eagle rays are considered near threatened on the IUCN Red List and need protecting. These creatures are known at times to form aggregations, but most commonly they are seen alone, a sudden appearance providing delight for any expectant diver.
Doorway to Heaven (2013) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
With 600 species of coral and more than 1,300 species of coral reef fish, Raja Ampat, considered the epicentre of the Coral Triangle, has the highest level of marine biodiversity in the world.
Experience this underwater richness at the beautiful sloping coral garden of Batu Rufus, leading to a swim-through arch.
The Gardener (2014) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Former commercial fisherman and tropical fish collector, Ken Nedimyer is one of today’s pioneers of coral reef restoration, harvesting and replanting corals in the hope of bringing endangered coral reefs back to life, and sharing his knowledge around the world.
His work began here in 2003 in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Today there are coral nurseries in every coral reef region of the world.
Early Morning Traffic (2014) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
The USAT Liberty, an ex-American cargo ship, rests just off a rocky Tulamben beach in the northeast of Bali. The vessel was torpedoed by a Japanese sub in the Lombok Strait in 1942 but it did not sink. It made it to Tulamben where it remained beached until Mount Agung erupted in 1963.
The Volcano’s earth tremors pushed the vessel out into the sea where it rests today. The coral-covered wreck provides habitat for all manner of marine creatures including these curious-looking inhabitants, a school of bumphead parrotfish, who frequent the wreck at night.
Flower Bouquet (2013) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
The world-famous Blue Hole is a near-perfect circular expanse of sapphire water nearly 300 metres wide, located within the Belize Barrier Reef System. It was created by geological forces over 10,000 years ago.
Many divers get pulled to what lies in its depths but one can not overlook the beauty that can be found near the Blue Hole rim, where corals can attach and flourish.
Playground (2014) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
If you see a dolphin around Fernando de Noronha you are pretty much guaranteed it will be a spinner dolphin. Small and sleek creatures, they are famous for their spinning, acrobatic aerial displays, sometimes achieving up to seven rotations in one performance.
During the day these creatures frequent the shallow bays before moving into deeper waters around dusk to hunt.
Haven In Galapagos (2013) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1978 and situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 kilometres from the South American continent, the 19 islands and surrounding marine reserve that make up the Galápagos Islands are referred to as a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’.
Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the waters here are a melting pot of marine species, that include the incredibly agile Galápagos sea lion that exclusively breeds here.
The Swimming Head (2014) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
Mola mola (a.k.a ocean sunfish) is the heaviest bony fish in the world, with adults weighing up to 2,000 kilograms. They can measure 3 metres in length and 4 metres from tip to tip. These elusive giants are generally solitary and pelagic, spending much of their time at depth ranging from 200–600 metres.
For a few months of the year they visit the reefs around Nusa Penida, off the island of Bali, and can be seen coming up from the deep to bask at the surface or getting help from cleaner fish and birds who pick parasites off their skin. There is still little we know about these amazing creatures.
Beautiful Death (2016) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
When corals are stressed by changes in their environment, such as an excessively warming ocean, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues that give them their colour. This causes them to turn completely white. The white is in fact their skeletons revealed hrough their now-translucent flesh.
When corals bleach, they lose their ability to produce food and quite rapidly they starve to death. The Great Barrier Reef experienced unprecedented back-to-back bleaching in 2016 and 2017 resulting in mortality across vast areas of the Reef.
Kaleidoscope (2013) by Christophe BailhacheUnderwater Earth
The zooxanthellae, the algae present in the tissues of corals, contain a pigment called chlorophyll which gives the coral not only food, but it's colour. Corals have the ability to change their colour to adapt to different light conditions and water temperature.
Raja Ampat is famous for its healthy and biodiverse coral reefs, and the picturesque coral garden at Keruo is a perfect example, with a kaleidoscope of colourful corals and bright reef fish darting around the reef.
Learn how Underwater Earth’s custom-made SVII camera system takes the world virtual diving or explore more wonders beneath the waves in our Underwater Earth collection.
© Underwater Earth / Christophe Bailhache
Thanks to our image partners: AXA XL, Google, UNESCO, Panedia, Fourth Element, NOAA Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Project Manta, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Tiffany and Co. Foundation, Paul G Allen Family Foundation (as part of the 50 Reefs initiative), National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, The University of Queensland, Exposure Labs/Chasing Coral, Parks and Wildlife Service/Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (Government of Western Australia), Mission Blue, UNSW Sydney, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Ocean Lovers Festival, Florida International University, Aquarius Reef Base, Coral Restoration Foundation, Charles Darwin Foundation, Galapagos National Park