Marine biologist travels to Guinjata Bay

Monica Phung is a qualified marine biologist whose passion for the oceans is palpable. Determined to make a difference and halt the degradation of our marine ecosystem, Monica aims to bring awareness to the issues facing the marine environment by educating the public as a photojournalist.

To make a success of her intended career, Monica needed to take her skills to a professional level. She signed up for an underwater photography internship back in September. Working under the tutelage of renowned photography professional Fiona Ayerst, Monica and her new friends were put through their paces getting to grips with their equipment while exploring the coral reefs in the idyllic Guinjata Bay of Mozambique. 

Below and in her own words, Monica describes her experiences.

Week One

Having the privilege of learning underwater photography has been an experience I’ll never forget – and we’re only on week one.

After having only five dives with the underwater cameras, I’ve realized the challenges and struggles that come with this skill. Not  only have I battled some strong bottom surges and currents as a new diver, but to incorporate a massive (and expensive) camera into the mix – is not the easiest task. At the end of the day, having produced images that you’ve worked for and are proud of, is what matters the most. I learn more and more with every dive and I’m enjoying every minute of this adventure.

The marine life that exists here is incredible and I often overlook them on dives, as most of the organisms we have been shooting are quite small.

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Week 2

We began shooting with wide-angle lenses and I must admit, it is one of the most challenging, yet intriguing, tasks I’ve been given.

We strive for shots which include the essential components such as well exposed blue water, parts of the reef and individual subjects. But, myself along with the other three interns here with me, strive to be creative and think “outside the box”. We build off of one another and combine our skills to help each other develop as photographers.

There is such a wide spectrum on how you can shoot a wide angle photo. It depends on the time and place – timing is everything in most cases. I hope to produce some more creative and sharp wide angle images as the next few weeks unfold.

Week 3

We’ve been privileged to have Fiona Ayerst here with us for the entire internship – the expert behind the underwater lens. Giving us constructive criticism and helping us improve our photos after each dive. She’s very knowledgeable in this field – I’ll take all the advice I can get! She has definitely become a role model in my life.

So, the month is winding down quickly – hardly giving me time to absorb everything that I have learned. Still trying to get the eye for wide angle shots, incorporating what we have been taught and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. I find it depends on the sunlight, the visibility and the timing. I love it to say the least.

Life here in Moz will only last another week – and I do not want it to end. It has been a trip of a lifetime so far and I am hoping the last week brings more adventures and even better photos. We have been blessed with seeing whale sharks almost every day for the last week – let’s hope we can see more of these beautiful sharks while we are here at the bay.

Cheers to the weekend.

-Monica Phung

Check out some other articles from Monica’s blog by clicking here. Some of her photos are absolutely mind blowing and it is evident that she has put her internship to good use!

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