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Talking with Octopus

Primorsky dive expert Andrey Shpatak about lifhhakah photohunting under water

Andriy Shpatak - Professional sailor, dive instructor and top underwater photographer of Russia. In a bizarre world where people are only guests, he plunged 40 years ago and has since done it more than 4000 times. Andrei saw many seas and oceans, but he believes that the Japanese have their chips, and it is not inferior in beauty to the same coral reefs. And the winds, cold and fogs of the Far Eastern waters only kindle the interest of divers and temper their will.

In the seaside village of Rudnaya Pristan Dalnegorsky urban district of Andrew "every shrimp knows." The main local attractions are kekury Two Brothers, imprinted on an undated denomination in 1000 rubles, and the Lighthouse, at the beginning of 50-ies erected on a double-headed rock - Cape Brynner. From the top-dominant, you have an excellent view of the bay of Rudnaya, the village, as well as the coast to the north of it. The shore to the north of the Ore Quay is replete with steep cliffs and steep cliffs. In the village. The ore quay was the terminal station of the Dalnegorsk narrow-gauge railway. Dalnegorsk and Rudnaya Prystan are known as the homeland of the famous Hollywood actor Yul Brynner, the main character of the 1960 film "The Magnificent Seven." The local cape and lighthouse is named after the Brinner family, and the lighthouse itself was built by the actor's grandfather.

In his dive center Andrey Shpatak accepts tourists from all over the world, introducing them to rare underwater "models", some of which are similar to winged angels, others to space monsters. And in his blog the hero of our material shares the chronicles of the universe, inaccessible to most of us, land rats. The first underwater soap box seaside scuba diver got in 1996 year, since then abruptly pumped and his skills and photo park. Shpatak is a champion, it has been repeatedly recognized by the jury of such prestigious Russian photo contests as "The Most Beautiful Country", "Golden Turtle", "Golden Dolphin" etc., there are prizes in international photobits.

Talking with Octopus
Photo: Andrey Shpatak
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- Have you been breathing iodine and salt since childhood?
- I was born and grew up in the village of Rudnaya Pristan, so my interest in the sea is completely understandable. We boys from the sixth to seventh class, buying fins, masks and pipes, went to do diving, and hunting was more than bondage. In the yard there were 70.

- So it was for food?
- No, in spite of everything we did not starve, it was just a real pleasure from underwater hunting and a bonus for home cooking. We always had fresh fish and octopuses on the table!

I am a sailor, I studied for a navigator in the Far Eastern Engineering Marine College (now - Moscow State University named after GI Nevelskoy. EastRussia), has finished the captain, but did not become it, although the captain's diploma is. It can at least now be confirmed and go to work on merchant ships. In the 77 year I got a certificate of an underwater swimmer, the PADI certificate in 1998. Since 2010 I teach diving.

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- "Terrestrial" photographers know different techniques, build skradok, make a sitting, and feed. What are the features of photographing underwater models? Is there a good time when underwater inhabitants lose caution?
- The main thing is to know the seasonality. At us under water only in the certain time interval it is possible to meet the certain kinds. That is, roughly speaking, from December to March the sea practically dies out. Windy, the water is very cold (-2 degrees) and there is no living creature, all living things go to depth, where it's warmer. And diving under water, by and large, is meaningless. Since March, a rapid flowering of life begins under the water, and April-May is already swarming, small things come to life. May is the most flourishing of krill, these are small shrimp such. Krill is eaten by everyone, including whales. In June, it is very much! Water warms, the fish wakes up and starts to eat it actively, then, by July, the krill disappears. May and June are the best time for macro photography in our bay, lots of shrimp and a great variety of nudibranchs.

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From April-May to June - it's better time for photohunting for hairy and royal crab, it keeps closer to the surface, and by summer it goes to great depth. The same Kamchatka crabs in May-June are at depths of 20 meters, and are quite rare in shallow water. And as the water begins to warm (+ 5 degrees), they retreat to depths of up to 30 m and deeper.

13179285_806726052760565_6150014067395830189_n.jpgPhoto: Kamchatka crabs.

From mid-summer to October, a good time for shooting fish, squid and cuttlefish, large - Rossia pacifica and a tiny - Sepiola birostrata.

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Photo: cuttlefish Sepiola birostrata

In the autumn, jellyfish come close to the shore, such as Aurelia aurita (jellyfish-moon); Lion's medusa-mane (Cyanea capillata) and a giant jellyfish.

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Photo: Medusa Aurelia limbata

At the end of September and beginning of October in our bay there are a lot of giant Doflein octopuses (Enteroctopus dofleini):

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And at the same time, the mating season begins at Saito's mossy dog, laying eggs in abandoned empty shells of Gray mussels:

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Nerpa, Larga's seals are quite curious, and young individuals are not afraid of anything! But they are in society. The young man just begins to approach, the old one appears, he giggles at him, and the young one sails back. And with the seals it happens: the less you pay attention to them, the more they begin to pay attention to you. From the series: "Oh! They do not react to us, what is it? "Faster there, look!

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It is worth noting that many animals, predators, are active only at night, and they can be seen only in the dark, and the rest of the time - if lucky. The same octopuses - they are very active with sunset. Many underwater inhabitants in a ray of light just freeze, and you can come very, very close and quietly shoot.

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- The purpose of your dives - exclusively diving, photography?
"I'm just an ordinary person!" And I'm not a vegetarian. Seafood is present on our table, but I take care of the sea and its inhabitants. But 99% of dives are study of divers and photographing for themselves.

- Are there any bonuses in the Sea of ​​Japan that are not available anywhere else in the world?
- The Sea of ​​Japan is one of the most saturated. But it is not so bright. That is, in the same tropics, in the same coral gardens, there will be a bunch of diversity, flickering fish, but 2-3 species. You can see similar things in our country, knowing where. By and large, our sea does not differ much in diversity from the tropics. We have a huge amount of the same algae and grass. The peculiarity of the north of Primorye is that it is here that the cold Okhotsk and the branch of the warm current of Kuroshio meet. These conditions create in the water column a unique world, where the Arctic fauna and flora is adjacent to the subtropical.

Big octopuses are something we can be proud of!

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With my first octopus, I met in 75 year, and for more than 40 years, I studied these creatures well. They are smart and quick, but seeing a diver, octopuses are looking for attention and understanding. The strategy is this: I find an octopus and lure him out of the hole, play with him, helping the participants in the dive take a photo. Octopuses quickly get tired of dazzling flashes, so after 7-10 minutes, I take him back to the shelter. The largest octopus I've ever met has weighed more than 30 kilograms.

Sometimes it happens that the octopus is simply not in the mood to pose for the photographer, and then he tries to escape. To chase after an escaping octopus is another pleasure - a knocked-down breath, instantly increased airflow and a needle of a manometer, jumping to the red sector. Sometimes the octopus runs up to the surface - then it + 100500 does not catch up, because it does not have problems with a rapid rise. Often, large octopuses freeze in the open state - all of its eight legs are spread out over 360 °, the mantle between them is stretched like an umbrella. And in this state, he can be up to one minute, after which he sharply closes his umbrella and floats away.

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Also we have a unique Japanese furry dog, the most friendly to divers, large enough, centimeters 60-70. It is not the endemic of our sea, but practically. In the East China Sea there is also a piece of its range, aside from Japan there is.

- At what depths does your photo shoot in Rudnaya Bay - from and to?
- From 1 to 30 m, whichever we want to shoot. At a depth of 30 m, you can only have 15 minutes, decompression will throw you back to the surface, but there are certain things for which you dive. And in the area of ​​the bay Rudnaya shoal, the maximum depth of 30 m. In 50 km to the south of Rudnaya is the Gulf of Vladimir. At a distance of 7 km from the Gulf of Vladimir, the depth is more than 2000 m. The Sea of ​​Japan is very deep!

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- Are there any underwater inhabitants that you already recognize in person and who recognize you? Can, did you give the names to someone?
- We have too many people! That is, you need to find a completely deaf place, where you dive and shoot only one, and animals can be accustomed to your presence. The place is popular, including among scientists, because approximately 95% of the nudibranchs of the Sea of ​​Japan live in the bay of Rudnaya.

- What is the situation with poaching, is there any kind of marine inspection?
- Underwater poaching is not developed here, because we do not have trekking and there is practically no scallop. And the GMI we have. - In contrast to the city of Vladivostok and the same Nakhodka, where there are many places where you can drop the boat, in our bay in Rudnaya it can be done only in one place! We descend the boats at the mouth of the river Rudnaya, and there we return. That is, put one inspector there, you can calmly solve the problem.

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- Who are your favorites?
- I like to shoot everyone. But every underwater photographer has a so-called "wish list". We have a lot of animals on the Sea of ​​Japan, which I would like to take off. But the whole question boils down to how and where to find them? There is such a fish - the sea duck, for 40 years of diving I met her once, and quite unexpectedly and was not ready for it. Other fish from the family of chanterelles, in the Sea of ​​Japan they live near 30 species, and I saw only 5 or 6.

- Who is the most difficult to shoot? Who is the most secretive and timid?
- We have a huge fish - Far Eastern wolffish (Latin Anarhichas orientalis), it is guarded in Primorye, because it is very rare. I have not met her under water for three years. Last year, we saw her, but she was in a place where she did not want to scare her. The next day came, but she had already gone somewhere.

- Tips for neophytes underwater shooting. Do I need to be a professional diver to take good pictures, or just take courses, stock up on equipment, underwater boxes, flashes ... And what is the price of the issue?


- In order to become a normal underwater photographer, you need to be able to swim well underwater with scuba. You must be able to stay underwater long enough to calmly and gently approach the animal. Do not muddle, the most basic! The suspension has risen - the picture will deteriorate. You'll have to spend a lot of time in photoshop to remove the suspension, and it's better not to lift it immediately. The second theme is that the photographic equipment, even quite simple, if you take a soap box, box and light, is expensive. And people believe that you can buy the simplest kind of box, and the same Go Pro, and thinks that everything will turn out. Nothing will come of it, we need a light! In order to shoot a movie, you must have the skills of video shooting, so that it's professional and interesting. Because to shoot stupidly just your whole dive and try to show the people, the most patient will have enough minutes for 5. The movie should be short, capacious and reflect the essence. And with a photo the same thing.

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Outfitting a diver and photographic equipment for shooting under water - pleasure is very expensive. The price of a new wetsuit in the area of ​​60 thousand rubles. As an example, I bought my wife a photo kit for a start: the soapbox-10 thousand rubles, boxing to it-12 thousand rubles. Total 22 thousand You can already shoot, and maybe something will turn out. But to remove it well, it needs to be retrofitted: a platform for the camera, handles, flash, wires. Total ran under another 40 thousand. That is, it's just a small soap box. And if we take a mirror camera, then we take Nikon D800 (the camera is more than 5 years old): the price of the camera itself in the region of 80-120 thousand rubles, box under it used - about 1,5 thousand dollars, you can try to buy. Optics - you need at least two lenses: 60 mm Macro (25 thousand rubles) and Fish-eye Sigma 15 mm (30 thousand rubles). Still need ports for boxing to use this optics - 10 tyc. and 20 thousand - this is the most inexpensive. Underwater flash costs more than 500 dollars, they need two. Hands for flashes. That is, you can try to meet half a million.

- Are you able to pay these costs?
- No, it's unreal. This is a hobby for which we spend money. Abroad there is a small group of photographers caught in the jet, they can afford to sell pictures to magazines and from this more or less live. And then it's a question of grants, it's unreal to feed yourself with the photo itself. At us, in Russia - 100%. There is no sense in uploading photos too, it's a rather narrow specific genre.

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Photo: Agonomal proboscis (family of chanterelles)

- Land photographer vs Submarine: what is the fundamental difference and is it difficult for the ground to be reconstructed for surveying in the sea?
- If you can shoot well in principle, and you do not have problems with getting a normal picture, you do not think about the exposure - how to open the aperture, arrange the composition, etc., and do it all on the machine, these skills will help you very much and under water. Because under water 90% of the actions are performed exactly in the manual. And the laws of composition are one on land and in the sea.

- Recently you criticized the participants of the All-Russian competition of underwater photography. Are they all so weak?
- If we are talking about the Moscow competition, everything depends very seriously on those who select. Often a person who takes photos, he is also a participant. That is, roughly speaking, 4-5 people who know each other can calmly remove more powerful pictures. It's not kosher! So it should not be, and it does not cause respect. There is one famous contest "Golden Turtle", when it was held for the second time, my picture passed and she was on the cover of the final album. Since then (for 10 years) I did not get there once. In 2017, after a long break, I sent my photos to the Golden Turtle, 6 of my pictures were taken to the semifinals. Judged by a fairly open jury, but the scores were from 0 to 9. I participated in the World and Asian championships in underwater photography, where the biggest and smallest scores are reclined to get objectivity. The judging of our photo contests is ridiculous. And I want to be honest, do not deal with cheating, do not ask me to vote for me, this is my inner principle! But there is also joy. In 2017 year - in the nomination "Underwater World" contest "The Most Beautiful Country" from the Russian Geographical Society, I became the winner.

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Photo: young octopus Doflein.

- In 2006, withAccording to the study Blacksmith Institute, the area was on the list the most polluted in the world. How can you assess the ecological state of the bay of the Ore and the Sea of ​​Japan now? Has it changed for the better or the worse for years, decades of your observations?
- This estimate refers more to the 90-th years of the last century. During the Soviet Union, Dalpolimetal (a mining and metallurgical complex in the city of Dalnegorsk, in the village of Rudnaya Pristan, is located a metallurgical shop (lead) and a stevedore shop, the only producer of lead and zinc concentrates in the region. EastRussia) and Bor (Mining and Chemical Company Bor Mining Company, Dalnegorsky Boron ore deposit, the third largest producer of boron-containing products in the world and the only producer in Russia. EastRussia) worked on 100%, and now on the strength of 20% of its capacity. 25 years of calm on our nature have affected well. There were fewer harmful discharges to the water area. Now we have a huge amount of red fish, the number of setting salmon has increased many times. But, at the same time, the fish protection was practically removed, and the poachers on the river became simply nemeryano. It will pass 2-3 years, salmon, alas, can again be lost.

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- Tell us about your dive center in Smychka village. Do you have some special method of your own?
"People say it's easier to study abroad." It's easier, yes, I believe, but not cheaper. Start dipping into cold water (and we have cold water), you will be very difficult. I had a case: a familiar divemaster girl from Khabarovsk, who has more 700 registered dives in the tropics, came to me to learn to dive in a dry suit. Have been trained, there have been funny cases in the process. She even says, you need six or eight dives to recover. Cold water is another completely!
The diving season starts from the launch with the opening of navigation 15 April and lasts usually until 15 November. In the Sea of ​​Japan, water varies from 1 ° to 20 ° C. Happens in August on the surface of 20-22, and in the depth of 15 meters with this 4 ° C heat. We have a very cold current suitable everywhere and everywhere.

From April to November, I do more than 200 dives in our waters. That is, a month I get from 30 to 50 dives. They last from 40 minutes to an hour. Students sometimes make me nervous, but I have a lot of experience, so I do not allow panic and quickly take matters into my own hands. Guests we offer "full boarding house" - accommodation, meals, and, in fact, diving in my escort.

- How to get to your diving school?
- On Facebook I have a page Lucky Octopus Diving Lodge. Diving in Russia is quite cold, but the south of Primorye is warm. And in the distance is equivalent, what to go from Khabarovsk to me, that to the south of Primorye.

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- Have you ever had scientific discoveries of unknown species of marine life or fauna?
- Nudibranchs 5-6 species, first encountered in our part of the Sea of ​​Japan, I found, but the scientist who made their description modestly did not mention it. Thanks to the Internet, all our favorite scientists, who know where to look, easily track the topics. Just then they come and say: I found this. The more honest ones refer to photographers, the less honest ones are silent. But let this remain on their conscience.

I try to collect any books on our fauna, because I'm interested in what I'm photographing. At the moment, I can just at 80% see and understand what kind this is, and determine its Latin name.

During the dives, there are also historical discoveries. In 2003, I was one of the first to get into the sunken schooner "Victoria" in the bay of Olga. Ten years later I took a photo shoot at Skryplova Island on the torpedo boat No. 208. He drowned in 1904 year, having exploded on a Japanese mine. Another example is the missing merchant vessel Viking. I helped uncover the secret of his wreck. This Norwegian steamer moved to the north in 1905 year and ran into a rock in a fog. Here there is a navigation error. This vessel was mentioned by Vladimir Arsenyev. In the same list remains of the cruiser-participant Tsushima "Emerald", he lay on the rocks. I'm sure the sea holds a lot of other secrets.

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Photo: Sea Devil (Limacina hellicina)

- What is a diver, underwater photographer in the winter?
- Some people come in the winter to learn diving in the pool. And so - at home we sit. Or try to extend the summer for money, as in a joke of Soviet times. There was a man who was upset all the time that he had a birthday in the summer. And now he has grown up and is perfectly calm himself, because he can make himself a birthday in the summer for money. Before the opening of the season-2018 less than 3-x months, half the winter behind. How can I forget about what awaits us in spring in the cold water of the Rudnaya Bay!

- Tourists in Primorye every year scare sharks. 2017 was not an exception. Do you have any?
- There were no dangerous situations. Herring sharks are always swimming, they are hunting for salmon. They do not attack people, although they are direct relatives of a large white shark. For 40 years of diving, I twice saw a prickly shark katran under the water, and it's a great joy to meet her!

Photo Shoot: Andrey Shpatak.