Casa Grande - When Philip Bond was in the fourth grade in a small ranching community in Western Nebraska, a couple of underwater photographers did an assembly for the school showing of their work. That’s when he became mesmerized by the ocean.
Bonds is now an underwater photographer who lives in Casa Grande. He gets to the sea as often as he can to capture the wildlife under the sea.
“It is an incredible world. Unbelievably incredible. Just amazing experiences,” said Bonds. “I prefer larger animals. Sea lions, manta rays and sharks. I shoot wide angle a lot.”
In September of 2016, while shooting photographs near the Guadalupe Island in Mexico; the same waters the Discovery Channel and National Geographic explore, Bonds had a scary encounter with a Great White shark known as “The Legend.” A name given by shark researchers in the area.
“He saw food. I don't have any doubt that at all. He saw me as a food item,” Bonds said laughing. “He was jazzed up pretty good,” said Bonds
He snapped a shot from a distance just when the 16 foot long Great White shark came right for him.
“I immediately thought. Well I better get out of his way because he's a lot closer and he's fast. He was very, very fast,” said Bonds.
Like a lot of wildlife photographers – Bonds has respect for the beauty and dangers the sea life can dish out. So he got himself back into the protective shark cage and the 4,000 pound shark swam past.
Over the years Bonds learned all sea animals have their own unique personalities and patterns. Including sharks. On his last trip to Guadalupe Island, he witnessed one of the most feared predators of the sea get harassed by its potential prey.
“California sea lions harassing Great White sharks during the daylight hours. They would literally chase these 14 foot - 16 foot Great White shark around. Bite it on the tail. Bite it on the fins. They were chasing them all over the place,” said Bonds.
Of course, when the sun sets and the visibility in the water is less clear - it becomes another story - the sea lion could become dinner.
Bonds is planning another trip to the Guadalupe Island this fall. Maybe he'll run into the great white knows as "The Legend" again or discover some new wonders under the sea.
Bonds sells his underwater photographs through his website, Cortez Blue Photography
Bonds also uses an app called Expedition White Shark where users can watch the travel patterns of real sharks who have been tagged by research scientist tracking their every move.