What lies beneath

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National Geographic explorer and photographer Brian Skerry has spent 30 years exploring the world’s oceans, from extreme conditions beneath Arctic ice, to predator-infested waters and tropical coral reefs. He tells ABC News Breakfast about his underwater journeys and his one-on-one encounters with creatures of the deep.

A southern right whale dwarfs a diver in this photo by Brian Skerry.

No matter how good of a swimmer you are, you can never swim fast enough to catch a whale or a dolphin or a shark.

They [the animal] really need to allow you into their world which means being very patient and sort of calm and … even though your heart may want to be racing you’ve got to try to control that and be relaxed so the animal gets close and you can make that image.

I dreamed about exploring as an astronaut or maybe in forest and jungles but there was something about the sea that always intrigued me.

The underwater equipment that I use is essentially regular surface terrestrial cameras but they have to go inside underwater cases and the lighting equipment is also very, very crucial.

The ocean acts as a giant filter. It scatters and filters light so if you want to see colour in detail, particularly with closer animals, you need to light those things.

I can only stay under water for as long as the air supply on my back will last which in many cases is maybe an hour.

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