Not just a
huge collection of
Elasmodiver.com contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few
chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web
to help divers find the best places to encounter the different
species of sharks and rays that live in shallow water but it has
slowly evolved into a much larger project containing information on
all aspects of shark diving and shark photography.
now more than 10,000 shark pictures and sections on shark
evolution, biology, and conservation. There is a large library of
reviewed shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a
monster list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are
numerous articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is
now so difficult to check for updates, that new information and
pictures are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be
the debate on Spiny dogfish quotas rages on America’s eastern seaboard, a
group of divers from Western Canada head up to the Gulf Islands and find more
Dogfish than they can shake an Atlantic Salmon at.
and the Canadian mainland,
boasts some of the most colorful and intense “non tropical” diving in the
world. Once a sleepy fishing community, Quadra now caters to weekend warriors
looking for thrills and chills as they are swept along dramatic walls bristling
with strawberry anemones and bright orange cup corals, past wide eyed lingcod
and Giant Pacific Octopus. But, the highlight of any diver’s trip to Quadra is
the chance to dive with schooling dogfish, and during the months of July and
August the Dogfish don’t let them down.
We traveled up from
and jumped on the ferry across to Quadra to hook up with Mike Richmond from
DynaMike Dive Charters. Mike has been diving on Quadra, on and off for the last
30 years. A few years back he built a lodge for those intrepid divers prepared
to brave the cold, current swept waters, and having sampled some of Quadra’s
spectacular walls we were eager for him to arrange a dive with the dogfish.
some of the divers this was their first shark encounter and a great way to get
up close and personal with “jaws” scaled down to a non-threatening size.
Like many in our group Jill Yoneda was excited but a little apprehensive as Mike
pulled up to his favorite spot for playing with the doggies. We tethered to a
mooring to stop the ever present current from dragging us away and Mike pulled
out a salmon-filled mesh bag. As he explained, this was to be a freestyle shark
feeding experience. One of us would head down the anchor line and settle onto
the bottom with the goody bag full of salmon. The rest of us would follow,
helping ourselves to fish if we desired. It sounded pretty straight forward and
one by one we jumped in and dragged our way down the mooring line into the mist.
As I descended the
dogs darted in and out of the fog, and touching down on the sandy bottom at 35ft
I was immediately swarmed by curious little sharks about 3 feet long with long,
pointy noses and big sappy eyes. Pulling my camera against the current I worked
my way over to the doggy bag and grabbed a salmon. I waggled it around in the
current trying to mimic a wounded fish and caught the attention of the closest
sharks. They idled over and nosed me a little until the first one figured out
what was food and what was neoprene and then it latched on and went berserk. As
soon as its jaws closed around the fish it began to thrash wildly just as its
bigger cousins do. It occurred to me that I’d played this game before; if
you’ve ever wrestled for a stick with a big dog you’ll know the feeling. It
was soon joined by two of its friends and I held on with my left hand and
snapped away on the shutter with my right.
As more and more
dogfish drifted into the scene I let go of the dwindling salmon and floated
along behind the ball of sharks watching them rip it apart. Eventually I grabbed
a kelp frond and started the laborious task of dragging myself back to the other
divers lost up current somewhere in the mist. As I pulled myself along I tried
to count the sharks drifting effortlessly by me; fifty, one hundred, two? The
parade was endless. As the group came into view, there was Jill kneeling on the
sand holding onto three salmon that were being wrestled away from her by half a
dozen dogfish. Mark, her husband, was throwing salmon up into the water to watch
the sharks dive-bomb them from all directions, and as I looked around taking in
the whole shark infested scene, I thought to myself that it doesn’t get much
more fun than this. I grabbed another fish and was swept away down stream again
inside a big ball of sharks and continued to claw my way back to the group until
my air gauge was empty. Finally I rose upwards from the still circling sharks
until they were no more than shadows in the fog and drifted away.
One by one Mike
picked us up as we floated along in the frigid water and we sat there grinning
at each other on deck as the words tumbled out of us. By the time we had reached
the lodge we’d booked up this weekend for next year.