The Isla Mujeres, or “Women's Island,” lies in the Caribbean Sea about 13 km off the Yucatan Peninsula, and is only 7 km long and 650m wide. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they named it "Isla Mujeres" because of the many images of goddesses. In Pre-Columbian times, the island was sacred to the Maya goddess of childbirth and medicine, Ixchel. In modern times, the island is known for the whale sharks that migrate there to feed on Bonita and Snapper, and which are also joined by Giant Manta Rays. In addition to the amazing aggregation of wildlife, nearby lies the visually stunning MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte), a monumental underwater contemporary museum consisting of over 500 permanent life-sized sculptures. It is one of the largest and most ambitious underwater artificial art attractions in the world.
I selected from multiple carriers that had affordable flights from San Diego to Cancun. My colleague, who had been diving there for years, put me in touch with his boat captain for an excursion around the island. While connecting in Cancun, I also had the opportunity to take additional shots at the caverns and Mayan ruins. The cenote cave system offers some of the most amazing and unique diving in the world, with stalactites and stalagmites and underwater caves and caverns. The Mayans believed that the underground submerged caves were the passage to their underworld and when you see them first hand you realize why.
My goal was to get many different angles (underwater, split screen, and above) showing the size of sea life in the natural environment. I approached the MUSA site in the same way, showing the scale and bizarre landscapes with giant sunken statues, lending to its own complementary set of images.
About Donald Miralle
With more than 50 international awards to his credit including six World Press Awards for editorial work, Donald Miralle has been recognized as one of the most innovative photographers in the industry for the past two decades. Born and raised in Southern California, Donald graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in Fine Arts while also competing as an All-American swimmer. His easy going and artistic approach to photography has been sought after by some of the largest brands, publications, and agencies to capture iconic imagery of the world’s greatest athletes, landscapes of the most exotic locations or to produce in studio commercials. Miralle’s work has been profiled in publications and TV shows including Photo District News, National Geographic, ESPN and the Today Show. Donald has served as a keynote speaker at many international events including the PDN PhotoPlus Expo, and is active in the education of photojournalism at colleges and workshops including Brooks College, Art Center Design, and the 2.8 Dueeotto/Donald Miralle Sports Photography Workshop in Italy. In his spare time you can find him surfing and hanging at his local beaches in Encinitas with his wife Lauren and two sons Micah and Luke.