Mike Veitch Show Reel

I have finally gotten around to creating a short Show Reel of some of my more memorable video encounters from over the years. This showcase features imagery from Yap, Lembeh Strait, Bali, Komodo, and Raja Ampat among others. This film is edited to show just a few highlights of interesting behaviour but no long or intensive coverage of any one animal.

Enjoy the video and feel free to share with your friends but please don’t edit or use the footage in any commercial venture without prior permission.

The Cleaning Station – A Sub2o Blog Post

Manta Ray and Cleaning StationI have written another short article over on the Dive Advisor website called “A Guide to Cleaning Stations” via their Sub2o platform.  If you are not following the Sub2o blog then you are missing out on some great articles!  My latest article is all about the magic of exploring and experiencing cleaning stations, whether the creatures being cleaned are large or small!  Have a look at it at the following link and spend some time on the site while you are there to read other posts by a great set of authors.



Although the ocean is in a constant swirl of prey and predator interactions, it’s difficult for divers to observe natural behaviour, as animals often flee from our large and intruding presence. However, as any seasoned photographer or naturalist knows, there is one place that is always home to a buzz of activity on the reef: the cleaning station!  Read More… A Guide to Cleaning Stations Full Article

Story Behind the Shot – Yap Caverns

Story Behind the Shot - Yap Caverns

One of my all time favourite dive sites in the world is “Yap Caverns” in Yap, Micronesia. This site is located on the far southern tip of the main islands of Yap and is a series of ravines and gullies cut into the reef structure with many open caverns creating a maze like dive. The best way to dive this site is to jump in the shallows and follow the twisting caverns before emerging onto a steep wall with crystal blue water. The caverns themselves are in constant flux as they undergo a series of changes over a 3 to 4 year cycle with periods of bare rock showing at the bottom interchanged with periods of bright white sand filling the channels. Photographically, the periods of bright white sand is superior to the rocky periods for obvious reasons. I took this photo during a period of time when the bright white sand had settled back in to the caverns after several years of nothing but rocky bottom. To create this photo the conditions had to be perfect with the sun shining brightly overhead but still early enough in the morning that it was not overpowering. The key was to position myself so that the rock wall blocked the main portion of the sun in order to allow the sharp sunrays to filter through the water column. The other key ingredient to make this photo stand out was the fact that a bit of swell was running which stirred up the sand and created a “sand filter” that allowed the sunrays to shine through.

Yap Caverns, Yap, Micronesia, Aquatica housing and Nikon D70 with 12-24mm lens at 12mm, f8m, 1/500 (no strobes) ISO 200

Story Behind The Shot – The Manta Train

Story Behind the Shot – The Manta Train

 Manta Train

Due to its popularity on social media the last few days, I have decided to tell the story behind the “Manta Train” photo.  This photo was taken in Yap, Micronesia on a dive site called “Valley of the Rays”, in Goofnuw Channel, a passage that connects the lagoon to the open ocean on the North East side of the island group.  From the months of May/June through to Oct/Nov, mantas are often found in this channel hovering above one of several cleaning stations while being swept clean of parasites by a variety of wrasse and butterfly fish.  During certain times of the month, around full and new moon, there can be a lot of plankton in the water (possibly fish eggs from a mass mating event or coral spawning) and large groups of mantas congregate in the channel in order to scoop up this food source.

On this particular occasion, I had arrived on a boat with Yap Divers (Manta Ray Bay Hotel), early in the morning and the conditions were perfect; sun, flat calm sea, and the beginning of the rising tide.  We jumped in the water at the edge of the pass and began to slowly drift into the channel with a mild current.  Not long after, we began to encounter small groups of mantas swimming back and forth along the water column, their mouths agape, scooping up nutrients from the water.  As we drifted further into the channel, the groups of mantas became ever more numerous and the encounters continued non-stop; both near the surface as well as up to 10-15 metres deep. An interesting behaviour of feeding mantas is that they often “draft” one another in long lines with the one behind slightly higher in the water column than the one in front, similar to how a cyclist stays close to the rider in front to improve aerodynamics.  This behaviour allows the manta situated behind to scoop up plankton that has been pushed over the top of the manta in front, allowing for a more efficient feeding action.  For this photo, I was hovering not too far from the surface when a large group of mantas in feeding formation turned and came racing toward me with mouths wide open.  As I saw them turn I immediately swam downward and was able to situate myself just above the “Manta Train” and fire off a series of shots.   This shot is my favourite and I believe it’s the one that captures the mantas behaviour best; a close inspection reveals 8 mantas in this photo.

Nikon D70, Aquatica Housing, Nikkor 12-24mm lens at 12mm, f8, 1/100, ISO 200, no strobes