My wife Allison and I are citizen scientists that work closely with Dr. Ross Robertson of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama and Dr. Benjamin Victor from the Journal of Ocean Science Foundation. We are underwater photographers that take diagnostic images of fish in their native habitat, collect geographic range data, work closely with top marine scientists to publish our findings in scientific papers, and donate our images and data to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and other scientists and marine science non-profits for use in their websites, research, educational materials, and publications.
False clown anemonefish, Indonesia © 2021 Carlos Estape
Honeycomb cowfish, Bonaire © 2021 Carlos Estape
Bluespotted stingray, Indonesia © 2021 Carlos Estape
We just returned from six weeks in the Galapagos where we photographed a fish species never documented in the Tropical Eastern Pacific - a range extension of over 5,000 kilometers! Before that, we photo-documented and collected data on fish species in St. John, Virgin Islands, and identified 21 fish species that had not been documented by previous scientific studies. We have authored and coauthored multiple scientific papers and will soon be publishing our findings from our Galapagos and St. John research in scientific papers with Dr. Ross Robertson and Dr. Ben Victor, Guy Harvey Research Institute, Nova Southeast University, Florida. All of our images and data are donated to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for use in their Fishes: Greater Caribbean and Fishes: East Pacific websites and apps.
Tube dwelling anemone, Florida © 2021 Carlos Estape
Bonaire © 2021 Carlos Estape
Shortfinger hermit crab, Roatan © 2021 Carlos Estape
Most recently, we donated 200 of our Galapagos images to the Charles Darwin Research Station for use in their educational and scientific materials and gave a presentation to their scientists and local dive guides on the role of citizen science and how to use the Smithsonian’s website and apps for their research and with their clients. Dr. Robertson will be doing a major update to the Fishes: East Pacific website and app in 2022 and we are dedicating our efforts to photographing as many East Pacific fish species as possible and providing all of our images and range data for his use in this important update.
Common Octopus, Florida © 2021 Carlos Estape
Spinyhead blenny, Bonaire © 2021 Carlos Estape
Barred hamlet, Bonaire © 2021 Carlos Estape
We have been shooting the Canon 5D Mark III and recently upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark IV. We use the Canon Macro Lens EF 100mm IS USM and the Canon Zoom Lens EF 17-40mm L USM. Allison uses a single Ikelite DS160 strobe and I use two, a DS160 and a DS161.
Having contributed to several scientific publications as well as having logged thousands of dives, Carlos and Allison Estape are distinguished underwater photographers and citizen scientists. They've traveled and collected data from places like Micronesia, Galapagos, the Coral Sea, Baja, and the Florida Keys, just to name a few. In addition to their scientific publications and speaking engagements, their work has been featured in textbooks, museums, aquariums, dive shops, fish identification books, as well as children's books and beyond. Check out Carlos and Allison's 100fishid website to improve your Caribbean fish I.D. skills. You can also follow their continued research here: images, scientific publications.