Shark talk, Elasmodiver news, Conservation rants,
Forthcoming projects, New shark pictures, Expediitions, Photography workshops,
Shark News and more...
WHALE SHARKS AND UNEXPECTED MANTAS
This year's Whale Shark Expedition to Isla
Mujeres was off the chart. On a good day during whale shark
season we generally see scores of whale sharks feeding at
the surface. This summer except for one slightly slow day,
we spent everyday in the presence of hundreds of whale
sharks! But that's not all. This year, mixed in with whale
sharks were hundreds of feeding manta rays. Where they came
from and why they showed up this season is anyone's guess
but it was wonderful to spend three weeks surrounded by the
biggest sharks and the biggest rays on the planet! Lets hope
the mantas come back for our
Whale Shark Expeditions
in 2014. Follow this link to the full trip report
and some amazing images:
Sharks 2013 Trip Report
BETWEEN BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS
After Isla Mujeres, we embarked on a shark
diving road trip down to California. We came home with some
great new shark pics for
images of tope sharks. We also tried to find
prickly sharks off of Monterey. Night diving in deep, murky,
cold water in the red triangle was a little creepy but its
the only known place to shoot this deepwater species without
using a submersible. Next year we will try again!
NEW ENGLAND MAKOS, BLUES AND 50+ SPINY
In September, Big Fish Expeditions went to
Rhode Island. The seas were sometimes rough (as you would
expect in New England) and we had a few boat problems but we
all got to encounter blues and makos. And... our
experimental chumming on an inshore wreck was a huge
success! We had around 50 spiny dogfish sharks show up to
the shark feed and managed to get some great images. Read
New England Shark Safari
2013 Trip Report
NEXT UP, THE PHILIPPINES!
We are heading off on a scouting trip to the
Philippines in October. Hoping this will become a Big Fish
Thresher Shark Expedition next year so stay tuned!
MARLINS AND MEXICAN HORN SHARKS
In December we have a sold out trip to dive
with striped marlin in Baja. It should be an awesome
Before the guests arrive, I'll be heading
north to Loretto to see if I can find the illusive Mexican
horn shark. I've seen their eggs on some of the deeper dive
sites around that area of the Sea of Cortez so I know
they're around. Perhaps the colder winter water will be the
key. Wish me luck!
After Striped Marlins, Big Fish is heading
to Sri Lanka to chase blue whales (sold out) and then to
Norway to swim with Killer Whales. That trip has been so
popular that I am running a second trip in 2015. Space is
very limited so if you want to swim with these amazing
animals and dive on Norway's pristine reefs, please let me
know as soon as possible!
KILLER WHALES 2015
BIMINI GREAT HAMMERHEADS
One spot has opened up on our Bimini trip so
jump in if you relish the thought of close encounters with
great hammerhead sharks.
I am heading to Bimini straight from Norway. I'm sure
I'll get some interesting looks going into The Bahamas in my
snow parka and winter boots :)
Two spots left on our 2014 Sailfish Trip.
Here is a reminder of the epic action you can experience
when the sailfish are attacking a bait ball, check out this
WORLD CLASS DIVING AT SOCORRO
Just three spots left on our Socorro trip
next March. Socorro is one of the most well rounded
destinations that you'll ever have the pleasure of diving.
And, its a quick hop down to Cabo to catch the boat. Expect
mantas, hammerheads, silkies, galapagos sharks, whales,
dolphins, turtles, octos and more. You'll probably see ALL of these
species in a week at Socorro. Come see for yourself:
SOCORRO EXPEDITION 2014
TIGER BEACH, SOUTH AFRICA, SCOTLAND AND
We have another sold out trip to
BEACH in April. We're booking spots in 2015
already so if you can plan that far ahead we look forward to
hearing from you!
SOUTH AFRICAN SHARK SAFARI
Then we fly back to Cape Town to dive with
more shark species than you can find on any other dive trip
that I know of. One spot just came open so
please let me know if you want to dive with great white
sharks (cage diving), makos, blue sharks, sevengill sharks,
spotted gully sharks, pyjama sharks, leopard catsharks,
yellowspotted catsharks, brown shysharks, puffadder
shysharks and natal shysharks. Then there's penguins, fur
seals and a game drive to see elephants, cape buffalo,
cheatahs, rhinos and all the other terrestrial animals that
Africa is famous for. Don't miss this action packed
TOWN SHARK SAFARI
Then we have our very unique
AFRICAN SARDINE RUN AND WILD COAST SHARK SAFARI
and then its time to fly back to Scotland to
SWIM WITH BASKING
In July we're going to Alaska to dive with
Salmon Sharks and to snorkel with the salmon as they head
upriver. One spot left!
SALMON SHARK EXPEDITION
And then we head back to Isla Mujeres to
WITH WHALE SHARKS. I'll have my drysuit with me
in Mexico so that I can zip up to Churchill, Manitoba to
lead our new
BELUGA WHALE EXPEDITION
and then fly straight back to Cancun to lead the
EXPEDITION. My good friend Rodrigo Friscione
just came back from Chinchorro Banks with some fantastic
shots and reports of great crocodile encounters. I can't
wait to get down there and run this trip!
TWO KILLER NEW TRIPS ON THE 2014 SCHEDULE!
MAKO SHARK SAFARI
Don't get me wrong, New England is a great
place to dive with blues and makos but there are lots of
other destinations to dive with them too. For a change of
pace, next year Big Fish
is heading to sunny California where the water is blue and
the sharks are plentiful!
As well as free diving with blue and mako
sharks we will be scuba diving around some of Southern
California's Channel Islands where we can find Pacific angel
sharks, horn sharks and a number of other shark species.
This is going to be an amazing adventure: four days on a
liveaboard chasing sharks in the sharkiest state in the USA.
Join us there!
CALIFORNIA MAKO SHARK
MEXICAN BULL SHARKS
Each November, many large bull sharks
congregate off the beaches of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Many
of them are pregnant females that
stay in the area until early March and then head into
shallow bays to pup before disappearing until the next
season. By late November the bulls have reached their
maximum strength; sometimes up to 20+ bull sharks on a dive.
This is a thrilling encounter that will
impress the most jaded shark diver. Join us next
November in Playa del Carmen; the playground of Mexico:
2014 BULL SHARK
MEET THE TEAM
A few years ago I ran my first trip to Tiger
Beach. It was such a fun trip that I decided to run it again
the following year and I added a whale shark trip. Three
years later, Big Fish Expeditions has 18 different trips on
the schedule and there are more on the way!
Its been an amazing adventure and I will
continue to lead most of the expeditions but I'm very happy
to announce that Big Fish has some new Expedition Leaders to
share the fun with.
Meet the team:
FISH EXPEDITIONS DIVE TEAM
See you down there,
+ CANADA'S ICONIC WHITE WHALES
SOUTH AFRICA WAS AMAZING!
Its been a month since I returned from our first South African Shark
Safari and I still can't get that incredible experience out of my head.
With the possibility of fourteen species of sharks I knew that it would
be a good trip but I had no idea how good. Cape Town is a shark diver's
paradise! On one memorable dive we slipped into a beautiful kelp forest
amid a handful of broadnose sevengill sharks and then swum amongst five
species of catsharks that were hunting on the reef. A couple of shy
spotted gully sharks also made a brief appearance making a total of
seven species on one dive alone! That would be enough to set the West
Cape apart from almost every other dive site in the world but just a few
kms away from the reef is Seal Island where you can also dive with
hunting great white sharks and still be back in time to watch African
penguins waddling along the beach in the afternoon sun.
SEE THE SHARK IMAGES AND READ THE FULL REPORT HERE
By the end of that amazing week, I was so impressed by South African
shark diving that I immediately booked dates for 2014. Join me in Cape
Town next year if you can:
2014 WEST CAPE SHARK SAFARI. After sharing a few pics on
Big Fish Expedition's Facebook Page this trip is already almost
full so please contact me asap if you'd like to come!
A NEW BIG FISH EXPEDITION:
THE SARDINE RUN
With so much world class diving on offer, it would be crazy to go all
the way to South Africa for just one adventure. So, next year after the
Cape Town Shark Safari, Big Fish Expeditions is staying in South Africa
for the world famous Sardine Run. For most people the Sardine Run needs
no introduction but for anyone that has been living in a bubble, the
Sardine Run occurs each year when cold upwellings force millions of
sardines to the surface. The resulting river of bait-fish is so enormous
that sharks, dolphins, whales, diving birds and huge schools of tuna
congregate off the Wild Coast of South Africa in record numbers to feast
on the oil rich fish. The bait-ball action that sometimes occurs at this
time is one of the most spectacular oceanic events on the planet. Join
me in the thick of it!
Just on its own,The Sardine Run would be an epic event but to make our
expedition even more special, I am combining the Sardine Run with some
exploratory chumming dives for endemic catsharks on the inshore reefs of
the Wild Coast and with offshore, blue water, baited dives for bronze
whaler sharks, oceanic blacktips and any other shark species that show
up to feed. Join me on the
2014 SARDINE RUN AND WILD COAST SHARK SAFARI Just one spot left!
ANOTHER NEW BIG FISH EXPEDITION:
CANADIAN BELUGA WHALES
I'm very excited to bring you this new trip! Each summer, thousands of
Beluga Whales congregate in Hudson Bay to feed, breed and socialize.
Join me on a ground breaking expedition to swim with and photograph
these iconic white whales in their natural environment. We will spend
four mornings swimming among large pods of belugas. These are extremely
curious animals so it is likely that they will approach us very closely.
In the afternoons we'll drive into the tundra and look for topside
wildlife such as polar bears that forage on berries during the arctic
summer. And then on our final day, we will trade in our zodiac for a
proper tour of the tundra on the world famous tundra buggy. This is an
adventure that you will remember forever! Join me in Churchill, Manitoba
CANADIAN WHITE WHALE MIGRATION
WHAT ELSE IS BUBBLING...
BASKING SHARKS WITH COLD FEET
Last week we were in Scotland searching for basking sharks. Scotland was
ruggedly beautiful but because of a very late spring that brought
unseasonably cold weather, the sharks did not arrive as predicted. We
saw a couple of sharks breach but there was no opportunity for in-water
encounters. It was tough luck but if you go on enough trips this will
inevitably happen sooner or later. We had a great group so everyone had
a good time anyway and we did get to dive with seals and other Scottish
marine life and explore some interesting reefs around Tobermory. Next
year we'll be back there to finish what we started!
WHALE SHARK SEASON IS
Next week we begin our whale shark season in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I'm
happy to report that the sharks have already arrived in their hundreds
so we're expecting some great encounters over the next few weeks. We
have just two spots open from August 2-7. So if you want to swim with
the world's biggest fish please drop me an email.
While we're in Isla Mujeres, I am hoping to put together a film about
this unique aggregation of enormous animals and the problems that they
are facing. I'll let you know how that went after this year's trip.
BACK ON THE HUNT FOR RARE SHARKS & ILLUSIVE RAYS FOR ELASMODIVER.COM
Big Fish Expeditions would not exist if it wasn't for the popularity of
Elasmodiver.com. The Elasmodiver database remains one of the largest
collections of shark and ray images on the internet and is an unbiased
source of shark diving information. The images on Elasmodiver are
frequently used by conservation groups to help push through regulations
and treaties aimed at protecting sharks and rays (aka elasmobranchs)
around the world.
After our whale shark trips, I am heading to California to look for a
very illusive deepwater shark and to try to add some other elasmos
including the Pacific torpedo ray to the Elasmodiver database. If you
happen to see any along the southern California coast in August, please
drop me a line!
Then at the end of August I'm back in Rhode Island for a sold out
Blue/Mako/Dogfish Shark Safari. After the charter I'll be shore diving
for a few days around Rhode Island and Massachusetts to hunt for more
endemic sharks and rays. Specifically, I'd like to track down an
Atlantic torpedo ray so if you're diving up that way and know where
they're hanging out this year, please email me with info!
MARLIN MADNESS IN MEXICO
Finally, we are planning a quick trip to Argentina to chase illusive
sharks in November and then in early December I have an exciting Big
Fish Expeditions trip to Baja for a week of chasing striped marlin,
whales, mola mola and sharks. When the sardines are running, Baja's west
coast is a dynamic place to dive where anything can show up to feed.
Join me there for a week of adventure!
See you down there,
ARE CROCS THE NEW SHARKS?
It was inevitable that sooner or later I would start running crocodile
trips. Collectively, crocs, alligators, caimans and gharials have that
same primal allure as sharks, and what they lack in sleekness they make
up for in sheer prehistoric gnarliness!
Our first crocodilian trip will be next August to Chinchorro, Quintana
Roo, Mexico to encounter American Crocodiles. Chinchorro is part of a
marine biosphere. Consequently, it is one of the few places in North
America where there is still a relatively abundant population of crocs.
Because the islands are 20 miles off shore, there is no river run off so
the water in the lagoon where the crocodiles live is clear enough for
in-water encounters. And, its not just going to be crocs. The expedition
includes a mangrove to find and dive with West Indian manatees and we're
even planning a morning chumming for sharks. For more pics, a great
video by Pelagic Life and all the logistical info, follow this link:
American Crocodiles of Chinchorro Banks
THREE AWESOME BACK TO BACK TO BACK EXPEDITIONS
Over the last few weeks I have led trips to Socorro Island, Tiger Beach
and Cat Island. All three trips were hugely successful. Read on for all
SOCORRO AND ROCA PARTIDA EXPEDITION
At Socorro we had manta encounters and more sharks than I have ever seen
in the Revillagigedo Archipelago. This year the weather cooperated and
we were able to dive Roca Partida. The schools of hammers, ledges filled
with photogenic whietip sharks and enormous yellowfin tuna schools
swimming around that lonely monolith made this trip extremely special.
Socorro 2013 Trip Report
for more images and reports from the
ANOTHER AWESOME TIGER BEACH EXPEDITION
Tiger Beach was full of sharks from start to finish with countless lemon
sharks and four tigers at once on the most memorable dive. We also had a
pod of 20+ spotted and bottlenose dolphins come and play with us for
hours and some great opportunities for killer split frame shots at the
back of the boat. Follow this link for all the good stuff:
A RECORD BREAKING OCEANIC WHITETIP EXPEDITION
The oceanic whitetip shark expedition to Cat Island was so sharky that
against all I have said about trying to run new trips, I am going back
again next year :)
We had somewhere around 15 oceanics on our best dive plus we saw a blue
marlin, some mahi mahi, and dusky and silky sharks. Cool pictures and
more about the trip here:
Oceanic Whitetips 2013 Trip Report
ONWARD TO AFRICA
Next week, Big Fish Expeditions is heading to South Africa. This is my
first shark safari in southern Africa and I couldn't be more excited. We
have the possibility to see around 14 species of sharks. Some of these I
have not photographed before so if all goes well there should be some
new species pages added to the shark and ray database on Elasmodiver.com
over the next few months.
This is a land based trip so assuming I can find a wifi connection, I'll
try to load a new shark onto the Big Fish Facebook Page everyday of the
trip. If you want the images to show up in your Facebook Feed, please go
BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS ON FACEBOOK and give us a like!
BASKING SHARKS, WHALE SHARKS THEN BLUES AND MAKOS.
After two weeks in South Africa I'll have just enough time to get home
to Canada before heading off again to swim with Basking Sharks in the
Inner Hebredes in western Scotland. This is another exciting new trip
that should result in some great opportunities for big animal images.
I'm hoping for encounters with puffins and gray seals underwater too so
expect a full report when I blog again (probably in July) or come with
me on the trip! There are two spots left on the basking shark trip if
any tropical divers out there think they can handle donning a 7mm in
order to swim with the second biggest fish in the world. Go to the
basking shark expedition page or email me for details!
After that, we're in Isla Mujeres for an entire month of whale sharks.
Only three spots left now so please jump on those quickly if you want to
swim with an even bigger fish than a basking shark:
whale shark diving
And finishing up our summer season we're heading to Rhode Island to
shoot makos and blue sharks before the Gulf Stream moves away from the
coast taking the sharks along with it. This will be another experimental
trip that includes a day of chumming for dogfish sharks on the inshore
wrecks. As always, I'll let everyone know how we do!
ONTO WHATS BUBBLING:
BACK TO THE BEACH!
STRIPED MARLIN ACTION
And then in December I have a brand new striped marlin expedition to
Baja. This is another great billfish encounter that everyone should try
before they hang up their fins. Join me this December for a unique
Striped Marlin Expedition.
A NEW PREDATORS IN PERIL EXPEDITION IS IN THE WORKS
Then at the end of the year, there's
blue whales in Sri Lanka,
Great Hammerheads in Bimini. But, before I run those guest
trips, its time to put some of my air miles to good use. In November I'm
flying all the way down to Punta Arenas to look for another new catshark
species. This one is called a narrowmouth catshark and (like most small
deepwater sharks) there are virtually no images of it. So, I'm meeting
up with Eduardo Sorensen from Oceana Chile to see if we can find and
document one or two while there are still some left. It will be a
complicated trip involving us flying tanks and weights all the way to
the end of the Americas and then braving the Humboldt Current for as
long as time and finances permit.
After the catshark dives in Southern Chile, I'll be traveling with my
partner Laura up the coast of Argentina to record as many endemic
Argentinean elasmobranches (sharks and rays) as we can find. I'm sure
that it will be as exhausting as it is rewarding. More on this
expedition as it approaches.
Next year get ready for more new trips as well as some of the classics
from years past. Apart from the American crocodile trip to Chinchorro,
there are at least two more exciting new big animal trips that I am
working on. Please keep an eye on the website for more info but for
starters, how would you like to swim through an emerald ocean filled
with friendly white whales?
See you down there,
SWORDS AND HAMMERS
Our January Sailfish Adventure to Cancun, Mexico delivered some epic
encounters. Here is a fun little video with some of the action:
Check out the rest of the sailfish trip report and images here: Sailfish
Next stop is Socorro for some quality time with giant mantas and then
Tiger Beach, Cat Island for Oceanic Whitetips and down to South Africa.
All sold out trips which is a great endorsement for Big Fish
Still a couple of spots left on the Basking Shark Adventure in Scotland.
No doubt the water temps have scared a few shark divers away from this
encounter but this will be an amazing trip with basking sharks, grey
seals, puffins and who knows what else, so if you want to dive with the
second biggest fish in the sea, get in touch! Here are some pics from
The July Whale Shark Expeditions are all sold out so I've decided to add
an early August trip for anyone else that wants to go. The Isla Mujeres
summer aggregation is the largest recorded whale shark gathering in the
world. Personally, I am more than happy to have to stay in sunny Isla
Mujeres for one extra week of whale shark diving! :) Whale Shark Diving
RHODE ISLAND MAKO & BLUE SHARK WEEKEND
Then in late August we have two back-to-back Mako and Blue shark
weekends with Joe Romeiro up in Rhode Island. The first weekend is sold
out but I have some room on the second weekend. Between trips I'll be
staying in the area and shore diving for torpedo rays and new skate
species so anyone that is coming on the trips is welcome to join me on
that off the beaten path quest if they have extra time.
STRIPED MARLIN EXPEDITION
After Rhode Island I have a second Tiger Beach Adventure in October and
then.......(drum roll).... Big Fish Expeditions is heading to Baja to
chase Striped Marlin. This will be a similar trip to the sailfish
encounter but with larger and stripier billfish. Pacific marlin/baitball
diving is a little more hit and miss than diving with sailfish so as
well as chasing marlins we have a great back-up plan. Check out the
Striped Marlin Diving Expedition page for more info.
GREAT HAMMERHEAD ADVENTURE
And last but far from least on the new trip front, in February 2014
we're heading to Bimini for 5 days of diving with Great Hammerheads. I
planned to run a hammer trip this year but there were certain logistical
issues and ethical concerns that I wanted to deal with to make this trip
the best it could be. Everything has come together nicely for next year
and I'm glad I waited because this is going to be a great hammerhead
trip as well as a great deal! Bimini Great Hammerhead Diving
MARINE LIFE PICS .COM
In other news, a few weeks back I was on a magazine assignment in the
Ryukyu Archipelago in southwestern Japan. It was an interesting trip
with scalloped hammers, unusual sea snakes and lots of fish that I've
never seen before. The highlight for me were these hummingbird bobtail
squid. Bare in mind that these little guys are about the size of a pea
These images and around 10,000 more of my marine life pics can now be
found on a new website that I just loaded onto the world wide web. Feel
free to check out the new site and give me feedback: MARINELIFEPICS.COM
There's a corresponding Marine Life Pics Facebook Page that you can
'like' if you want to know what has been added to the website each week.
One more thing, lots of people have asked me for more info about the
2015 Antarctic Trip but I haven't had time to load a page yet. I'll get
on it soon! That's it for now.
See you down there,
Its been an amazing year;
whale shark aggregations in Isla Mujeres to epic
giant manta encounters in Isla Socorro. After all the guest trips
were over, I managed to sneak in an Elasmodiver Expedition to Central
Chile. Chile may not be everyone's idea of a shark diving mecca
but I was after a rarely photographed little catshark that lives in
Chile's shallow bays and wraps its eggs around stunted kelp trees. I'm
happy to say that it was a successful trip. Follow this link for more
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013
Next year is shaping up to
be the biggest year so far for shark trips. unofficially, the shark
season kicks off at Socorro Island during our
Manta Trip. I expect that we'll bump into at least 3 species of
sharks at Socorro but the first dedicated shark expedition will be at
Tiger Beach in April. Shark magnet and award winning film maker Joe
Romeiro will be joining me on the boat; adding some extra magic to the
shark encounters. We'll be visiting all the best spots like Tiger Beach,
Fish Tales and other sharky reefs and probably exploring some new ones.
Grab the last spot if you'd like to join us:
Tiger Beach Expedition or join our second Tiger Beach trip next
After one day back in
Florida, BFE's final oceanic whitetip expedition starts in Cat Island,
This year's oceanic expedition was outstanding with more oceanics
than anyone 'needed' and silky sharks mixed in just for fun. Plus, we
had some unique split frame photo ops with the nurse sharks right in the
With so many new adventures
on the books, this will be our last chance to dive Cat Island for a
while (sad but true) so join me if you can:
Then, Big Fish Expeditions
heads to South Africa for a sold out Shark Safari of epic proportions.
14 species in 11 days. Now that's an expedition!
Two weeks later, we will be
in bonnie Scotland chasing basking sharks. We have an amazing week
planned in the Inner Hebredes swimming with giant sharks and diving with
grey seals. Incidentally, if you've already signed up for this one, I'm
staying for an extra day at the end of the trip to visit a puffin
colony. Contact me if you want to come:
Basking Shark Expedition
Here is a
fantastic video shot by Simon Spear in the area where we'll be heading:
I'd like to stay longer in
Scotland and shoot some little British catsharks but the Whale Sharks
will be waiting for us. Next year's Isla Mujeres whale shark boats are
almost full. If you want to swim next to the biggest fishes in the sea,
this is your chance. Don a mask and fins and jump into an encounter that
you'll never forget:
Whale Shark Encounter.
RHODE ISLAND BLUES, MAKOS
Then in August, a well
established shark encounter with an interesting new twist! Big Fish is
running a mako and blue shark trip with Joe Romeiro in Rhode Island.
That alone would be a great adventure but on our third and final day
we're planning to tie up to one of New England's fish filled wrecks and
lay down a chum slick for smoothhounds and spiny dogfish sharks.
Spear-fishermen regularly complain about being harassed by dogfish on
their wreck dives so imagine what will happen when we bring a little
shark attractant of our own :) Join the trip and find out what happens:
Rhode Island Shark Safari
And finally, next December
I'm putting together a thresher shark trip. I've wanted to photograph
threshers for a very long time but I've been put off by the no-flash
photography rules and dwindling encounters at Malapascua in the
Fortunately, there is a new
hotspot for thresher sharks. After fairly consistent reports of
sightings at 'Brothers Reef' in the Red Sea I have decided that it is
worth an exploratory liveaboard trip. I don't have a page on
BigFishExpeditions.com for this trip yet but I can tell you that we'll
be heading there next December and its a surprisingly affordable place
to dive. Email me if you'd like more info:
In Jan 2014 I have an
already sold out Blue Whale Expedition to Sri Lanka. If that sounds like
a dream trip, well... it probably will be. If you'd like to join the
waiting list let me know.
And, I have one cancellation
on the Jan 2014 Killer Whale trip. Let me know if you're coming!
I know its a long way off
but this is a big ticket trip: Join me in February 2015 in Antarctica!
Don't let your
gills dry out over Christmas!
See you down there,
Swarms of Whale
Sharks and Predators in Peril
Its been an insanely busy summer. There were lots of
great moments but the highlight was probably the incredible whale shark
aggregations that we encountered near Isla Mujeres in Mexico. As I said
in one of my Facebook posts, there were so many whale sharks that I felt
sorry for the plankton. To read this year's trip report and to enjoy a
short video from the expedition please follow this link:
Whale Shark Trip Report 2012
PREDATORS IN PERIL
Big Fish Expeditions has some awesome new trips
penciled in for 2013 and 2014 but before I launch into that, I'd like to
share some news about the Predators
in Peril Project. I recently traveled to Guerrero Negro on the
west coast of Baja to document the gill net fishery and in particular
the amount of shark and ray bycatch that is caught in the halibut
fishery. This trip resulted in some very graphic images that hopefully
capture the essence of the problem.
It was a tough expedition for me personally because I
was exposed to some tragic scenes but at least I had the opportunity
shoot a video about the expedition. The video is called BYCATCH. It has some
very disturbing footage but I believe that it is important to show
everything that I witnessed in order to shine a
light on this issue. You can see more images from the trip and watch the
video at PIP's new home:
jump straight to the video please visit:
Predators in Peril Videos
Please, please share BYCATCH on your
Next stop for PIP is Chile. In November I am heading
to the wild west coast of South America to try to document the endemic
shark population. Some Chilean species such as the speckled smoothhound
shark are already listed by the IUCN as near threatened but the shark
fishery continues to decrease their numbers further. Hopefully (if I
get some images) we will be able to generate some interest from Chilean
conservation groups that want to help reduce the fishery.
Ok, onto upcoming
In 2014 we're going to Norway to dive with hunting
orcas. I knew this trip was going to be popular but I didn't realize how
popular! The same day that I loaded the orca free diving trip onto the
Big Fish Expeditions website, it sold out. Consequently, I'm wondering
if I should run two trips back to back because I certainly wouldn't mind
an extra week chasing killer whales. So if you are interested in a
freezing cold adventure in the middle of winter to northern Norway to
chase orcas and night dive on pristine sponge and coral reefs in
Norway's rugged fiords, please let me know as soon as possible and I'll
work on a second boat.
But before then, we have a lot of other amazing
encounters to enjoy...
SAILFISH BAITBALL DIVING
sold out months ago but a couple of guests just informed me that
they can't go so there are two spots open. This is a great
opportunity to jump in with huge aggregations of hunting sailfish
attacking baitballs. It'll be intense and exhausting free diving
probably in bumpy seas but if you want an adventure don't miss this! Oh,
and if we get any storm days we'll be heading down to Playa del Carmen
to dive with bull sharks!
There are also a few spots left on the
MANTA EXPEDITION. This is a world class dive
destination 200 nautical miles south of Baja that attracts some
of the friendliest and largest mantas in the world, plus lots of sharks
and curious pods of wild dolphins. It is an especially good place to find black
mantas like the one pictured here:
Then, by popular request,
I am running another
PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP at world famous Tiger
Beach in the Bahamas next October. If you haven't dove Tiger Beach yet,
it is probably the best place in the world to learn the ins and outs of
shark photography. Tiger sharks, lemons, reef sharks, nurse sharks (and
occasionally other shark species such as great hammers) create the
perfect subjects to practice different techniques. Apart from obviously
photographing tiger sharks, one of my favorite techniques is shooting
over/unders of lemon sharks at sunset from the swim step:
There are also just two spots left on my
Cat Island Oceanic Whitetip Shark
trip. This year was amazing with more
oceanic whitetips than anyone expected. Next year is the last chance to
join me at Cat Island because I need to make room for some new
adventures in 2014 so I hope that you can make it!
Then in July its
Sharks time! The first week is full but I have
4 spots left on the second trip. I talked to the captain recently and he
told me that this year they had basking sharks everyday of the season
except two. That is an amazing success record! Nowhere else has such
reliable sightings so I am very excited for next year.
And then.... it just keeps getting better but I'll
save some announcements for the next newsletter. If you made it this
far, thanks for reading :)
See you down there,
THE SECOND BIGGEST
FISH IN THE SEA
Its been an awesome year so far but before I talk
about the action on the last few trips, lets talk about the second
biggest fish in the sea:
Next June/July I have organized a very unique
adventure. Join me on the Isle of Mull off the west coast of Scotland to
dive with feeding basking sharks. Although there are other locations like
Cornwall and the Isle of Man that get sporadic sightings, nowhere is as
reliable as the seas around the Isle of Mull. As well as the frequency
of encounters, the visibility this far north is far superior as well,
making this the ideal location for serious shark hunters.
We will also dive with friendly grey seals, photograph
any whales and dolphins that we see and generally soak up the atmosphere
of the Inner Hebredes in a fun filled week on the water.
At night we'll either be staying in a stone cottage in
the quaint village of Tobermory or camping on the outer islands right
where the sharks are. To me,
this sounds like an awesome adventure. Apparently I'm not alone because
the first trip sold out the day I posted it on
Big Fish Expeditions. The
second week has four spots open so jump in while you can! Check out the
images, info and an awesome video by Film Maker Simon Spear about the
amazing wildlife around the Isle of Mull:
Basking Shark Expedition
MANTAS, TIGERS & OCEANIC WHITETIPS
Building on the success of seeing smalltooth
sandtigers at Malpelo, our next adventure was in Rugged Socorro which is
200 miles south of the tip of Baja. The manta action at the islands was
off the hook. We encountered giant mantas on virtually every dive but
unlike many other places around the world, the mantas at Socorro
actually crave the company of divers. Many times, a manta would find us
and hang out for
the entire dive playing in our bubbles. It was a fantastic experience for everyone that went. Read
more in the
Socorro trip report.
After Socorro I led back-to-back trips to Tiger Beach
and Cat Island. Of course Tiger Beach was non-stop shark action everyday but Cat
Island far exceeded my expectations. Stuart Cove bought one of his boats
over to the island especially for this trip and although the persistent
wind made the surface a bit bumpy, we simply submerged into the tranquility of
the underworld surrounded by oceanic whitetip sharks on every dive. On
our first (and best) day we had 12 big oceanics surrounding our small
group of divers! There are some great pics from the trip in the
Cat Island Oceanic Expedition Trip Report. I've booked back to back
dates again next year and not surprisingly the boats are already half
WHALE SHARK AGGREGATIONS
Next up on the Big Fish Calendar is whale sharks at
Isla Mujeres in July. This should be a lot of fun. The world's biggest
fishes aggregate off of Isla Mujeres each July to feed and we'll be
there to play with them! There are two spots left on the second trip. If you've
never dove with a whale shark don't miss this opportunity:
Whale Shark Expedition
Less than a week after returning from Whale Sharks at
Isla Mujeres, its time for Sharkfest. As I write this there is one spot
left on the trip which I'm sure will be gone in no time. Sharkfest is a
fun filled weekend with three days of diving with Sandtiger Sharks, a
night where we screen the best recent shark films and a cook out on the
last night. This is the third annual Sharkfest and although its a bit of
a monster to organize, I don't think I can break tradition now. So, if
you can't come this year then please pencil it into your calendar for
THE SEA OF CORTEZ WHALES AND HUMBOLDTS EXPEDITION
Then its time for my last guest trip of the season.
This will be my second year in the Sea of Cortez diving with whales, sea
lions, humboldt squid and sharks. By far the most diverse trip on the
Big Fish Itinerary, if you're looking for an adventure
with lots of diving plus marine mammal encounters, you
can't go wrong in the
Sea of Cortez
PREDATORS IN PERIL
This fall, I have purposely avoided scheduling any Big
Fish Expeditions. I love running guest trips but there is work to be
done. I am planning two trips to Mexico to work with researchers and
fishermen to try to document more of the endemic shark species that
divers do not normally get the chance to encounter. In particular, there
are a number of smoothhound shark species that need some time in the
spotlight. Hopefully, by the end of the year I should have at least one
or two documented but I'm hoping for more. If you've never seen a
smoothhound shark, this image shows a Gulf of Mexico Smoothhound; an
animal that lives in deep water in a tiny pocket of ocean in the
northern Gulf and is therefore extremely vulnerable to depletion.
While I'm on the subject of Predators in Peril, you may
remember that last year I had the opportunity to photograph deep sea
gulper sharks with Edd Brooks from Cape Eluethera Institute. Since then
Edd has moved into the next phase of the project which involves
monitoring activity and species composition on the actual sea floor
rather than bringing sharks up to the surface. Here is a link to a video
about his recent work:
Next year's schedule is getting ridiculously busy
already. In January we'll be in Mexico for the sailfish migration.
Divers can see up to 40 or 50 sailfish attacking enormous bait balls; a
spectacular sight! (Just three spots left).
Then in February, we're heading to French Polynesia on
a shark safari of epic proportions. First stop will be Moorea to dive
with sicklefin lemon sharks. Then we are heading to Fakarava 'where it
rains sharks' to dive with 5 species including hundreds and hundreds of
grey reef sharks. In my entire shark diving career I have never seen
this many sharks in one place. Join me in paradise for an amazing shark
French Polynesia Shark Safari
Then a brand new experimental trip. In late Feb, Great
Hammerheads congregate in an area near the island of Bimini in the
Bahamas. Great hammerheads are usually extremely difficult to see (as
many frustrated photographers will tell you). But, in this one small
area, Great hammers have been reliably documented by the shark
researchers that are based on Bimini. This year, Stuart Cove took his
boat over to to try to chum up the sharks and he was extremely
successful. At one point he had a 4 or 5 great hammers around the bait.
That is the best encounter I have ever heard of so I have asked Stuart
to bring his boat back next year to try to repeat the excitement. If
you're an experienced diver and you've been waiting for the chance to
add a great hammerhead to your life list, this is the trip:
Great Hammerhead Expedition
Beyond the hammer trip we're taking another shot at the
mantas in Socorro and then its time for Tiger Beach, Cat Island,
Scotland and South Africa. To see our entire Big Fish Expeditions
Schedule for next year. Please follow this link:
Big Fish Expeditions Schedule 2012/13
See you out there!
For the oceans,
AND DIVING BRITISH COLUMBIA
MAGIC IN MALPELO
This year's Big Fish Expedition to Malpelo was
amazing! Not only did we see schooling hammerheads on most of the dives
(sometimes hundreds thick) but we also found the illusive
smalltooth sandtiger sharks
that we had timed the trip specifically to see. That was a dream of mine
two years in the making and I'm thrilled that we managed to pull it off.
Some divers make multiple trips to Malpelo and don't see these rare
deepwater sharks so we were very lucky to encounter them every time we
dove for them.
The trip was not without difficulty. When we arrived
in Panama City, Indian protesters had blocked the Pan American Highway
which cut us off from the boat. That threatened to derail the entire
expedition but some quick thinking by Arvid (our Captain) got us to
Malpelo in record time and the diving went ahead as planned. Thank you
to everyone that came on the trip and made it as special as it was!
BEST OF BRITISH COLUMBIA EXPEDITION
In November I started promoting a trip to Newfoundland
to shoot Humpbacks and dive the WW2 wrecks. Trying new places is
important to me but its always risky. Newfoundland didn't get a lot of
interest so I switched the expedition to a place that I know everyone
wants to dive. I'm now running an expedition to Vancouver Island. The
diving around Vancouver Island is phenomenal with invertebrate life
unsurpassed anywhere but don't just take my word for it; Jacque Cousteau
said that Vancouver Island has the best cold water diving in the world.
He was right. Join me this summer and see for yourself:
Expedition to Vancouver Island
SEA OF CORTEZ BIG ANIMAL SAFARI
There are just a few spots left on the
Sea of Cortez Expedition in August. Baja has some of the most
diverse marine life that you will see anywhere. From tropical fish to
pilot and finback whales to playful sea lions and humboldt squid
encounters. This week long adventure takes in the best of the Gulf of
California. Join me if you can!
SAILFISH AND BULL SHARKS
In January I'm running back to back sailfish and bull
shark trips in the fun filled Mayan Riviera. Join me on the quest to
film up to 40 or 50 sailfish as they chase baitfish off of Isla Mujeres.
This is a spectacle that you need to experience!
Sailfish are easily spooked by large groups of people
so you need to experience it in the right way. I have hired a very fast
boat and I'm keeping our group size to six guests only. Join the chase:
Sailfish Baitball Expedition.
If free diving with sailfish makes you hungry for even
more big animal action, then tack on three days of
diving with bull sharks off of Playa del Carmen. I have wanted to
run this trip for a long time but fishermen from the surrounding
villages were taking advantage of the shark feed and targeting the
sharks. A firm agreement now seems to be in place to stop this and well
respected researchers have moved in to start documenting the bull sharks
movements to better understand their importance in the local ecosystem.
Its great to see the progress and I'm very happy to finally be able to
offer this trip. So, please join me for the
Running of the Bulls next January in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!
IMPORTANT NEWS: ADD THE WORD
FAKARAVA TO YOUR LEXICON AND
TO YOUR BUCKET LIST!
Yesterday I got back from a photo shoot in French
Polynesia. I didn't realize that its just an eight hour flight from LA.
It was a good opportunity for me to get images of some common
Indo-Pacific sharks that I don't get a chance to shoot very often. One
of the places I visited was Fakarava Atoll. Its only an hour from Tahiti
and its everything that you would expect a picture perfect French
Polynesian atoll to be. I could write a thousand word rant about how
good the diving was but to spare you the drooling, I'll just say that I
have never seen so many sharks in one place. In Fakarava it RAINS
Needless to say, I'm hashing out the details of a
guest trip for next year that will take us to Fakarava and Moorea for a
South Pacific Shark Safari. Expect to see hundreds of Grey reef sharks
plus: silvertips, whitetips, blacktips, Indo-Pacific blacktips, tawny
nurse sharks and sicklefin lemon sharks. I can't wait to show you how
incredible the shark diving is. Keep an eye on
BigFishExpeditions.com for more info coming soon.
The South African Shark Safari only has 4 spots
left for 2013. 14 species of sharks in 11 days. Join me on the
ultimate shark safari:
South African Shark Safari 2013
Tiger Beach is full (of course) and next year's
April trip is already starting to fill up. So, I'm running another trip
this fall in October/November. I'll post exact dates as soon as I have
them but if you'd like to visit legendary Tiger Beach this fall please
let me know as soon as possible and I'll reserve you a spot:
Tiger Beach: Tiger Shark Capitol of the World
I look forward to seeing you out there!
For the oceans,
POLAR SEAS AND THE SOUTH AFRICA SHARK SAFARI
HOW THE POLAR SEAS EXPEDITIONS WERE BORN
I am lucky enough to live on Vancouver Island in
western Canada. Believe it or not, the island is warm. We get a little
snow some years (not this year) but so does Texas. Its a great place to
live and play.
The Salish Sea which separates the island from the
mainland is considered 'temperate' but virtually everyone that dives
here picks up a drysuit sooner or later. A wimp like me wouldn't be
caught dead diving wet in our local waters.
A lot of divers that I meet in the tropics tell me
that they'd love to see a giant pacific octopus or dive with a tumbling
gang of adolescent steller sea lions but they just don't relish diving
in the restrictions of a drysuit.
Adolescent Steller Sea Lions off Vancouver Island
I get it. Diving is about freedom as much as it is
about seeing the wonders of the ocean. Its about that feeling of
underwater flight. No restrictions. No boundries. Traditional inflexible
drysuits took away that freedom and left divers feeling clumsy and
confined. And then, Whites Manufacturing changed everything by designing
the Fusion - a stretchy , form fitting drysuit that feels like you're
diving in a wetsuit. My fusion has made such a profound difference to my
cold water diving that I've started looking at the world's
'non-tropical' diving destinations very differently.
Recently, I was sitting in Whites office raving like a
lunatic about my Fusion and talking about all of the places I'd like to
dive in it. Instead of slapping a restraining order on me, Whites Brand
Manager Justin Balaski suggested that Whites and Big Fish Expeditions
team up to create a series of Polar Seas Expeditions to the world's most
amazing cold water destinations. Sometimes the focus would be on big
animals and sometimes it would be on diving the world's best cold water
wrecks and reefs (wrecks tend to stay better preserved in colder water).
We would promote the trips together. I would lead them
and White's would send me off with some extra Fusions for anyone that
wanted to find out how comfortable it is diving in one. I jumped at the
idea and started looking for destinations worthy of both companies.
Combining the best of Big Wrecks and Big Animals, our
first Polar Seas Expedition will be in July of this year to
Newfoundland, Eastern Canada. The
Bell Island Wrecks consist of four 400ft long merchant ships that
were sunk by U-boats in 1942. Think of Bell Island as Truuk Lagoon with
For the hardcore big animal divers, on the days that
we are not diving on Bell Island's world class wrecks, we will have the
opportunity to jump in with friendly humpback whales that cruise up and
down the coast of Newfoundland during their summer migration. It'll be
epic. Join me if you can. Click on the pic for more info:
SOUTH AFRICA SHARKOHOLICS EXPEDITION
Yep, we're heading to South Africa to shoot sharks. 14
different species if all goes to plan: great white sharks (breaching and
underwater), mako sharks, tiger sharks, Bull Sharks, Dusky Sharks,
Ragged Tooth Sharks, Blue Sharks, Blacktip Sharks, Broadnose Sevengill
Sharks, Spotted Gully Sharks, Puffadder Cat Sharks, Dark Shy Sharks,
Pajama Sharks and Leopard Cat Sharks. That pretty much sums it up except
to say that we'll likely see lots of other stuff too like Cape fur
seals, lots of pelagics, African penguins and a whole bunch of land
based critters like lions and cheatahs because the trip also includes a
big game drive. Click on the Pic for more info:
KICKING OFF THE 2012 EXPEDITION SEASON
The 2012 expedition season is about to kick off at
Isla Malpelo which is famous for its wild pelagic shark action. I
couldn't be more excited as (like most divers) I have never seen a
smalltooth sandtiger shark and there's a very good chance we may see some
at this time of year. If we nail the shots there will be one more shark listed on
Elasmodiver.com and many new pics of old favorites like schooling
hammerheads, silkies and Galapagos sharks.
I'll post a trip report as soon as we get back to land
so keep an eye on this blog page and on
Elasmodiver's Facebook Page for updates.
CONSIDER THIS A STANDING REQUEST FROM ELMODIVER:
LOOKING FOR HELP FINDING NORTH AMERICAN SHARKS AND RAYS
To keep Elasmodiver growing I need to keep shooting
new species. In the big picture I've barely made a dent in the total
number of sharks out there but you'd be surprised how hard it is to find
new species once you have shot the standard elasmobranchs (sharks and
rays) that divers regularly see.
Right now I am focusing on finishing up the North
American Elasmos. There are three main areas that I need help with:
Skates in Alaska, Smoothhound sharks in California and Baja, and some of
the more elusive species from the Gulf of Mexico such as finetooth
sharks, smalltail sharks, night sharks and Atlantic Angelsharks or 'sand
If you know where or how to find any of these critters
(whether diving or fishing) please let me know and I may plan an
expedition based around that info.
Remember, the rarer they are, the more we need images
to make sure the world knows about them. Invisible animals don't get
First live images of a scoophead shark. Shot in Panama in
2011. Only on Elasmodiver!
For the oceans,
READ THE 2011
DIVE EVEN FURTHER INTO THE ELASMO BLOG ARCHIVES