In Photos | Meet the Ocean’s Wild Denizens

When a photographer dives into oceans, the deepest secrets of elusive marine life come drifting.

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Off the coast of Marsa Alam, a resort town in southeastern Egypt, the Red Sea is a magic vault of marine life. But my 10-day dive expedition in 2016 had one muse—the dugong. The Dugong dugon is a sirenian found in warm and shallow coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Pacific. As for me, nine days of skulking underwater at 23 feet had left me high and dry. With depleting oxygen forcing me back to the surface on Day 10, I turned around one last time. And there it was, nibbling at clumps of wispy sea grass, a dugong. Around 10-foot-long, the herbivore went about its business unconcerned by my presence. Sharing space with the vulnerable species without encroaching made for a special encounter.

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Deep in the belly of the ocean exists a world of sudden movements and colours you may or may not recognise on land. The mystery of the water takes on a richer tint for a wildlife photographer with a love for the lesser known—gentle sirenians, marine invertebrates, mother-and-cub whales and all. Diving, snorkelling and even coaxing holes into oceans frozen white, Dhritiman Mukherjee delves underwater to resurface with stories of elusive aquatic encounters.

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  • Dhritiman Mukherjee is as elusive as the animals he photographs. His photographs have appeared in National Geographic Traveller, The New York Times, Lonely Planet, WWF, UNESCO, Birdlife. He is a RBS Earth Hero award winner for inspiring people for conservation.

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