Not just a huge collection of Shark Pictures: contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web based shark field guide 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.

There are 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 accessed here:


Shark picture - green sawfish





Andy Murch's


Shark talk, Elasmodiver news, Conservation rants, Forthcoming projects, New shark pictures, Exhibitions, Photography workshops, Incoherent ramblings and more...





I am lucky enough to live on Vancouver Island in western Canada. Vancouver Island is completely different from the City of Vancouver which is on the mainland and suffers from the same weather patterns as the frigid interior. 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 of dive with a tumbling gang of adolescent steller sea lions but they just don't relish diving in the restrictions of a drysuit.


dive with steller sea lions

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. Until, Whites Manufacturing designed the Fusion. Diving in a stretchy, form fitting Fusion is like 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.

A few months ago, I was sitting in Whites office raving like a lunatic about my Fusion and talking about all of the places I'd like to go with it. 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 wrecks which 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 was diving in one. I jumped at the idea and started looking for a destination 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 ships that were sunk by U-boats in 1942. Think of Bell Island as Truuk Lagoon with Icebergs!

For the big animal divers, on the days that we are not diving on 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:





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. I'm lost for words. Click the Pic to read on:





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. If we nail the shots there will be one more shark listed on but many new pics of old favorites like schooling hammerheads.

I'll post a trip report as soon as we get back to land so keep an eye on the blog page and on the Elasmodiver Facebook Page for updates.



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 shark, night sharks and Atlantic Angelsharks or 'sand devils'.

If you know where 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 protected.


For the oceans,

Andy Murch




New Sharks, New Ideas and Fin Free Canada


Big Fish Expeditions



Most companies that run expeditions, find their niche. Its easier to run trips if you go to the same places each year. Thats not why I started Big Fish Expeditions. As I've said many times before: life is short, especially for divers! So rather than taking the easy route (even if its to amazing locations) I'm planning to look for new adventures with new animals every season. The only exception will be Tiger Beach. Its the perfect place to run shark photography workshops and after eight years I still feel that I have lots more to shoot there.

So, for anyone that has been thinking of joining me on one of the adventures listed on , be warned! Most of those trips are now a one time opportunity.

In 2013 there will be a brand new selection. Some will be well known destinations like the South African Sharkoholic Tour that I have planned, and some will be so 'off the beaten path' that you may not even recognize the name of the destination.

I can't spill the beans on too many trips yet but in 2013 you can expect expeditions in and around Southern Africa, South America, French Polynesia and the arctic. As the trips take shape, I'll be blogging about each one between now and 2013 So bookmark this page!



If we're friends on Facebook: then you've probably already seen the new shark species on For the rest of you, a couple of months ago I had the chance to join researcher Edd Brooks from the Cape Eleuthera Institute on an abyssal shark tagging project. It was a great trip that I will talk more about at a later date but from a photography standpoint, I got to jump in with three deepwater shark species and swim them down to depths where they could more easily get back to the abyss. The resulting images are of free-swimming animals that have rarely (if ever) been photographed by a diver. It was a fascinating shoot. You can read the new species accounts and see some of the resulting images here: Gulper shark, Cuban dogfish and Bigeye sixgill shark. Watch out for stories about the project in a couple of forthcoming magazines.


Gulper Shark

A deep sea Gulper Shark from the Cape Eluethera shoot.






Many of next year's trips are sold out or almost full. There are two spots left on the Malpelo Shark Safari in February. Malpelo will be extraordinary - big sharks and lots of species including schooling hammers, Galapagos sharks, whitetips, silkies and possibly other requiem shark species and pelagics like whale sharks and giant mantas. Plus we're going at the right time of year to see smalltooth sandtigers which you won't see anywhere else. Here's a great pic of a smalltooth shot at Malpelo last year:


Smalltooth Sandtiger Shark




The March Socorro Humpback and Manta Expedition has just one spot open. All the info about the humpback whale encounters and the amazing manta and shark diving around Socorro is listed on but to make the trip that little bit more special, I've arranged a couple of days diving and accommodation at Cabo Pulmo before we board the boat to Socorro. Cabo Pulmo is a sleepy little village in southern Baja that has the best mobula ray encounters in the world. At that time of year, mobulas school in their hundreds (sometimes thousands) and jump out of the water in acrobatic courting displays.

This isn't actually part of the trip but most of the guests have decided to join me at Cabo Pulmo to chase these dynamic creatures:


Mobula ray jumping



Cat Island

The are two spots left on the Cat Island Oceanic Shark Expedition in April. This is unquestionably the best spot in the world for oceanic whitetip shark encounters. As well as scuba diving with oceanics in bottomless blue water, we're going after reef sharks and other inshore species such as tigers and lemons. That will make this a really well rounded trip but the operator recently told me that he has a spot where he thinks we can find silky sharks too. If we get them all, this will go down as one of the most diverse locations for shark diving in the Bahamas. It sounds crazy, but this is my last trip to Cat Island!


Silky sharks

Silky Sharks are very curious open ocean sharks.


Isla Mujeres

In July we're heading to Isla Mujeres in Mexico to play with whale sharks. Four spots left right now. I've been amid scores of whale sharks in Holbox which is just down the road from there but I wanted a location with clear blue water, nice hotels, and easy living. If you want to relax and have a world class big animal encounter, this is the place. Whale Shark Expedition


Big whale shark and diver


Sharkfest 2012

Sharkfest was featured in the November issue of Scuba Diving Magazine. That generated a lot of interest so the boat is getting full already. This year's film list is looking good too with films from Africa, England, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Indonesia and more. If you haven't been to Sharkfest yet you really need to come sandtiger shark diving in North Carolina with us and enjoy talking sharks and watching brand new shark films with the rest of the shark junkies.



Sea of Cortes

If you want to see HUMBOLDT SQUID AND FINBACKS, PILOT WHALES & SPERM WHALES all in the same week long expedition, this is your chance. The Sea of Cortez Expedition was amazing last year so I'm running it again. We got to see everything we hoped for plus schooling hammers, whale sharks, hundreds of sea lions and some beautiful Mexican reefs. I've been so busy since this year's trip that I haven't had the chance to load the humboldt squid pics onto until now. But if you want to get a better idea of these magnificent 2m long creatures, follow this link: Humboldt Squid Pictures


Humboldt Squid


Isla Guadalupe

I've added a new trip to the 2012 rosta! Guadalupe Island is so famous among shark divers that it really needs no introduction from me. In September we are going to the best place in the world to see huge great white sharks. Crystal clear blue water, enormous sharks (by September the big females have arrived) and a spectacular backdrop with Guadalupe fur seals and Northern elephant seals. This is going to be a very special trip. The Up Close With Great White Sharks Expedition.


White shark trip

How close do you want to get?


Saving Sharks

Lastly, I wanted to chime in on the shark fin debate in Canada which is where I live. Our Prime Minister Steven Harper recently stated that he is not opposed to the import of shark fins as long as they are killed humanely. That's a very naive opinion expressed by a politician that is either ignorant of the facts or cares more about votes than doing the right thing.
As brutal as shark finning is, the real issue is that we're running out of sharks, not that they're killed in a wasteful, barbaric manner.
Many shark species are on the brink of commercial extinction or have already crossed that line. This is not just a protectionist opinion. Drastic declines in shark numbers have been clearly documented by numerous well respected researchers and independent monitoring agencies around the world.


This is a call to arms to support FIN FREE CANADA. We can't all be banner waving activists but we can all vote for change. Please sign this petition to ban the importation of shark fins into Canada:



Also, a personal message can got a long way. Mr Harper understandably does not want to ostracize our large oriental community in Canada. However, he needs to be reminded how many votes he'll lose if he doesn't change his stance on this critical subject.

If you're Canadian, please let him know that he will lose your vote over this issue. If you're not, please tell him that the world is watching and is not impressed. Remind him how endangered sharks are and that any fins coming into Canada are not coming from sustainable fisheries regardless of how 'humanely' they are fished.
Please email Mr Harper with your message:


For the sharks as always,

Andy Murch



P.S. Expect another blog post very soon with a great new 2012 location. Get ready for the cold when Big Fish Expeditions partners with Whites Manufacturing!


Big Fish, Big Whales and Big Squid




I've been home for 3 weeks from this year's Sea of Cortez Expeditions and I'm still reliving the highlights in my mind. It was an incredible adventure with great people and great encounters.

Over a two week span, we spent time in the water with absolutely every big animal that we had hoped to see. From voracious humboldt squid to enormous sperm whales, the ocean just kept delivering us new and amazing animals.

To give you an idea of how diverse it was, we managed to cram humboldt squid diving, a pod of sperm whales, a twenty meter solitary bull sperm whale, a few finback whales, multiple pods of pilot whales, schooling scalloped hammerheads, schooling mobula rays, playful sea lions, scores of reef dives and three whale shark encounters into two weeks at sea.


The shooting opportunities ranged from challenging to great to epic but now I am faced with the daunting task of wading through thousands of images of fish, squid, whales and reefs. The best will be loaded onto Elasmodiver when I have the chance except for the ones that are saved for magazine articles. Every time I open a new folder of pics, I am transported back to that particular dive or encounter. Its a great way to relive the adventures between trips but no substitute for actually being there.

For me this was a very experimental trip and I was not sure if it would all work out. By the time we arrived back in La Paz, I had dates nailed down for next August's squid run so if you'd like to join me next year please let me know: 2012 Sea of Cortez Expedition



I've also added two more epic trips to next year's Big Fish Expeditions line up:


Humpback whale diving and manta diving in Socorro.In March I am running a Humpback Whale and Manta Expedition to world famous Socorro Island. Socorro breaks the surface 200 miles south of the Baja Peninsula and is reached by liveaboard from Cabo San Lucas. It is probably most famous for the amazing manta encounters that take place there. The rays are some of the biggest that you are ever likely to dive with. They are known for interacting with people at the islands and allowing divers to swim within inches of them (perhaps enjoying the feeling of the divers exhaust bubbles rolling over their skin). Interestingly, the mantas at Socorro have been shown to be able to identify individual divers which they return to time after time for more attention.

The islands are also known for excellent reefs and sharks! Resident species include Galapagos sharks, silkies and whitetips but hammers and other species can also be seen.

But, like all Big Fish Expeditions, the Socorro Expedition is timed to deliver the maximum amount of big animals so we are visiting Socorro during the humpback whale migration. Late March is an excellent time to encounter female humpbacks with new calves. The calves are very curious and they have a reputation for closely approaching divers and snorkellers before being steered away by their more cautious mothers.

Each day between dives, we will head around the islands and jump in with any whales that we see. Between humpback whales (and possibly other whale species), mantas, sharks, dolphins and other pelagics, this should be an epic adventure. Socorro Humpback and Manta Expedition



I also have a new Whale Shark Trip to Isla Mujeres on the tip of Mexico's beautiful Yucatan Peninsula. Over the last few years, this area has become renowned for enormous aggregations of whale sharks. The number of animals that gather in the area is unprecedented making encounters virtually guaranteed. Combined with warm, blue Caribbean water, and the chance of encounters with other pelagics like sailfish and schooling cownose rays, this is a great place to interact with whale sharks.

This is also the perfect trip for those that want to encounter the largest fish in the sea in style! We will be staying at a beautiful beachfront hotel within walking distance of the center. No crowds, no hassle, just wake up to the sounds of the sea and be whisked away to the whale sharking grounds directly from the hotel. Then jump in and swim with giants all day before returning back to the comfort of the hotel. Wow, I sound like a travel brochure but after some of the hard 'off the beaten path' adventures that I sometimes go on in search of strange shark species, this expedition sounds just fine! Isla Mujeres Whale Shark Expedition




Its been a while since I had the chance to chase new sharks but in a few days I am heading off to Cape Eleuthera which is one of the lesser known outer islands in the Bahamas Chain. For the next two weeks I will be documenting the work of the Cape Eleuthera Institute while they conduct a survey of abyssal sharks that live in their waters. Once they take measurements and DNA samples from the deep water species, I will have the chance to jump in and photograph the released sharks. This will be a golden opportunity to nail some shots of species that divers would normally never see. The work that is being done on the island is very unique and I am looking forward to telling you all about it after the trip. And hopefully, bringing you some very interesting pics.



2012 is looking pretty amazing and the trips are filling up. Of the first three shark diving expeditions, Malpelo is sold out, Tiger Beach has just two spots left and our Cat Island Oceanic Whitetip adventure has 4 spots open so jump in while you can!

You can now see an Expedition Calendar with all the expedition dates we have planned here:


Sharkfest Sandtiger Shark DivingLast but far from least, its a long time until Sharkfest but if you are interested in joining me for a great weekend of brand new shark films, shark diving with sanftigers and generally partying with a group of likeminded shark junkies, please consider joining us next August. Also, if you're a budding film maker (or a seasoned professional) and you have a short shark film that you would like to air at the festival, please send me an email!

More on Sharkfest here:


See you out there,

Andy Murch





Life is Short (especially for divers).

August 19th 2011



Life is short. For divers it seems even shorter because we have more to explore and experience. Therefore, we have less time to dedicate to each amazing place or animal encounter. So, I try to cram as much into every trip as I possibly can.

As an example, I have just returned from a two week adventure along the eastern seaboard of the United States. It started with a two day Big Fish Expeditions Trip to see blue and mako sharks in Rhode Island. Then I nipped up to Massachusetts with Film Maker Joe Romeiro and photographer Tom Burns to track down and swim with some enormous basking sharks. 



After that I snuck in a day of shore diving with some New England skate species and other local critters which gave me one free day for an impromptu trip back out to play with the blues and makos. All this was followed by a hell for leather, thousand mile drive to North Carolina to host Sharkfest.



After a fantastic long weekend with new friends, diving with sandtiger sharks, watching shark films and generally having a good time, I jumped back in my rental car and drove a thousand miles back to Rhode Island in time to join friends at a NOAA lab to shoot some scientific shots of shark embryos.

Finally, exhausted but ecstatic with all those sharky experiences, I boarded a string of flights back to the west coast and spent one day at home on Vancouver Island. Phew....


Far from recovered, I dumped all my hard drives and drove west to Tofino which is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Pinnacle Scuba Adventures had arranged a three day dive trip in Clayoquot Sound and in the scheme of things, sleep came a poor second compared to diving on the rugged west coast of Canada.





I remember the super endurance I felt as a youth, when stopping to rest was for mere mortals. But sadly it turns out that I am human after all and so with blurred vision and nursing a raging throat infection, I then spent four gloriously slow days at home with my girl recuperating.


Which brings me (chronologically speaking) to the plane that I am currently sitting in while writing this blog. I am on a red eye flight to Baja to join 18 likeminded souls that think that racing through the Sea of Cortez in search of fin and pilot whales and chasing humboldt squid is a fine way to spend their vacations.

All the guests appear to appreciate how short life is too, which is why we are planning to dive on all the reefs that we can cram into our trip and try to hit a sea lion colony or two to boot. And for good measure, the liveaboard operator has agreed to let me chum now and then to see if we can bring in a few sharks. Now that is an action packed itinerary!

I will be home in early September. As the water temps decline in the North Pacific, so does the plankton which leads to great visibility. The steller sea lions will have migrated in too and I can't wait to spend some quality time with them. Stellers are so enormous that they remind me of underwater grizzlies. Fortunately they are rather more playful than your average land carnivore so its possible to float along underwater while they contort and pirouette in front of your camera.

By the end of September I'll be back on the road. Bound for Cape Eleuthera to document a deep water shark tagging project. Expect some cool new shark species on Elasmodiver after that trip.


Looking ahead to what's bubbling...

There are only two spots left on the Malpelo Shark Safari in Feb. Its going to be an epic trip filled with lots of different sharks and extraordinary reef life. Top of the bill if we find them will be the illusive smalltooth sandtiger sharks. More on this adventure on the Big Fish Expeditions Site.


We're going back to Tiger Beach in April for my yearly shark photography workshop. This time we'll be dedicating a day to swimming with spotted dolphins. I've always wanted to dive with them but I've never been able to tear myself (or the group) away from the sharks. This time its officially a 'shark and dolphin' trip. The boat is about half full already so jump in if you want to come. Its far more about sharks than shooting, so non shooters will have just as much fun. At Tiger Beach the pool is always open so expect endless shark encounters every day.


Straight after Tiger Beach I'm running another trip to Cat Island to shoot Oceanic Whitetip Sharks (and reef shark species closer to shore). This is the best place in the world to dive with threatened oceanics! Space is very limited.


Then in July I'm organizing a trip to Isla Mujeres on Mexicos beautiful Yucatan Peninsula to dive with the masses of whale sharks that migrate into the area at that time. There are more whale sharks at this location than anywhere else on the planet. Sometimes there are so many that aerial footage makes them look like a cloud of krill milling around on the surface. And the water is warm and blue!

I'll build a page for this trip on Big Fish soon but space will be limited so if you want to ensure a spot on the boat please let me know asap.


I'm sure there will also be more blue and mako trips to Rhode Island but I'll figure those out in the spring.


Even further ahead is Sharkfest 2012. I am chartering the Olympus for next year which holds 24 divers. The Midnight Express (Olympus Dive Center's other ship) is simply getting too small for our yearly festival. I actually tried to charter both boats but I couldn't find a weekend when both were available. Maybe we'll get both for 2013. Imagine that - 40+ shark junkies congregating in one place to shark dive, watch shark films and party. Now that's gonna be fun!

Its a long way off but this year the Sharkfest boat filled up in two weeks so if you want to come and enjoy the fun please drop me a line.


See you out there,

Andy Murch



Oceanic Overload and some Awesome New Diving Adventures

May 27th 2011




Before I get stuck into the Oceanic Whitetip Trip Report, I'd like to let everyone know that I'm heading to Rhode Island to dive with blue sharks and makos on July 30-31. There are only a couple of spots open on the trip which is being run by mako magnet Joe Romeiro. Its $325 a day. If you want to come out and play with some beautiful east coast sharks, please let me know asap:





We had an awesome week on Cat Island in the Bahamas. The oceanic whitetip shark images that you see here represent a tiny slice of what we encountered. If you want to see a larger selection of images from the trip please follow this link: Oceanic Whitetip Shark Pictures

It was a very productive trip with hours and hours of photo opportunities. The great thing about oceanics is that when they arrive, they generally stay for the whole day. Some days we had sharks virtually from the minute we arrived. To be fair, we had a couple of slow days too but you have to expect to sit and wait sometimes when you're looking for sharks in the open ocean.

When oceanic whitetip sharks catch the scent trail, they are definitely not shy. This was my first experience with oceanics and I was extremely impressed with their boldness and their beautiful lines. In comparison with other species, their personalities are somewhere between makos and blue sharks; inquisitive and bold like a mako but laid back and nonchalant like a blue shark at the same time.

All in all it was a great week. Next year I'll be running another Cat Island Oceanic Expedition with a few small tweaks to make it even better. One of the things we noticed this year was that if the current takes you away from shore the oceanic action is good but if you drift into shore other species come in too. So we'll spend at least one day chumming exclusively on the reef so that we can swim with all the other species that Cat Island has to offer. If you want to join me, here's the info: 2012 Oceanic Whitetip Expedition





The blue and mako weekend in Rhode Island marks the start of a manic summer schedule both for me and for Big Fish Expeditions. After playing with the blues and makos, I'll have just enough time to hunt for some new elasmobranchs on the shores of New England (hoping to add some Atlantic Torpedo Ray images to Elasmodiver) and then Sharkfest kicks off in Morehead City, North Carolina.

The Sharkfest boat is full but if you happen to be diving in the area, please swing by Olympus Dive Centre or the lodge. We'll be airing some awesome short shark films on Saturday night August 6th and we'll have our Sharkfest BBQ on the docks on the 7th. Come one, come all.

After Sharkfest I'll be racing home to Vancouver Island to join an exploratory diving expedition in Nootka Sound which is on the wild west side of the island. The trip is being run by Pinnacle Scuba Adventures. We'll be visiting some brand new dive sites with the possibility of Giant Pacific Octopuses, sixgill sharks (unlikely but you never know) and a whole whack of other Pacific Northwest critters. Space is limited but the trip hasn't been advertised yet so there is still room if you're a not so tropical diver...

After barely a week on the island its Baja time. We'll be reef diving on two week long trips specifically looking for fin whales, pilot whales, sperm whales and humboldt squid as well as plenty of regular reef dives and hopefully some good sea lion encounters. The first trip is sold out except for one spot for a female diver. The second trip still has a bit of room but its getting a lot of interest so please sign up asap if you would like to join me.

As usual, I'll be coaching anyone that brings a camera if you want help. These will be great trips with a huge amount of diversity.



Here's a unique idea, any true shark fanatics reading this blog will be aware that there's a healthy population of Salmon Sharks in Alaska in the late summer. You may not know that they also congregate much further south in our accessible Vancouver Island waters. With that in mind, I'm trying to put together a salmon shark chumming trip for early September aboard one of our local liveaboards. It will be very experimental but not crazy expensive for a week on a BC liveaboard. More on this if I manage to pull everything together in time.



By the time October rolls around I'll be ready to head out looking for new rare shark species for the Predators in Peril Project. This time I'll be working with researchers in the Bahamas that are bringing up deep sea sharks to measure and tag them. Their motives are to assess abundance and to find out which species inhabit great depth in the Bahamas tropical seas. I'll be documenting their work in pictures and slipping into the water to shoot each species as it is released. Its a very exciting project that should yield some great images.




On my Big Fish Expeditions Website I have a Bull Shark trip listed for December in Playa Del Carmen but there are no exact dates because I'm still sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what happens this year. Last season, after the sharks had congregated to attend the shark feed, they were captured and killed by shark fishermen from the surrounding villages. As a conservationist, I can't participate in a feed this year if the sharks are likely to meet the same fate. So, the trip is on hold until I hear that the locals have found a way to protect the sharks.





Looking even further forward, I have chartered the Inula which is a liveaboard catamaran that sails out of Panama to Malpelo which is a small volcanic island deep in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. If you haven't heard of Malpelo, imagine world famous Cocos Island but with even more shark diversity. Malpelo has schooling hammers in relatively shallow water, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, whitetips (not the oceanic kind), occasional whale sharks, mantas and in February (which is when we'll be going) Smalltooth Sandtiger Sharks which are the regular sandtiger's oversized cousin. The smalltooths live in very deep water and swim up to the 50-60 meter range at Malpelo for a short time each year. The pics from this year's trip (taken by accomplished photographer Tomas Kotouc) show how impressive and accessible these animals are at the island.

With six full days at Malpelo and two extra dive days on Panama's excellent off shore reefs on the way there and back, the Malpelo Shark Safari will be an amazing adventure. More info on Big Fish: Malpelo Shark Safari



Dates are up! The Tiger Beach Experience stands alone. I hope you can make it next year: 2012 Tiger Beach Photo Workshop and Shark Safari



And finally, by popular demand I have a new batch of Elasmo Tees hot off the printing press. This time they have logos front and back and come in three colours. Support Elasmodiver and Predators in Peril with a stylin' new elasmo-tee (or two, or three...)

Men's fitted and women's fitted cap sleeved are available. Get 'em while you can, I'm running out already. Ordering info here: Elasmo Tees


For the sharks,

Andy Murch



Scoopheads, Alligators and Tiger Tales

17th April 2011




I have just returned from a Big Fish Expeditions trip to Tiger Beach and I have to say that Tiger Beach is no longer the best tiger shark dive in the world.

Don't get me wrong, Tiger Beach is as sharky as it always has been with scores of lemon sharks ready to play as soon as the boat drops anchor and plenty of tiger shark action including regular visits from Smiley the resident tiger shark that has a damaged jaw leaving her with a permanent one sided grin.

But there is a new site close to Tiger Beach that is even better for shark action especially if you're looking for dramatic backdrops for your shark portraits.

The reef is named Fish Tales but that's a bit generic for such a great shark diving spot so I'm calling it Tiger Tales for the tiger sharks that regularly wander by.

The site consists of a healthy coral reef in 40ft of clear blue water. It is overrun with packs of bold Caribbean reef sharks and  a few resident nurse sharks. There are always some lemons swimming around also and it doesn't take much effort to swell their ranks and bring in the tigers that inhabit the area.

It was normal for us to see all four species of sharks on each dive and we even had a few flybys from one or two large great hammerheads but the hammers were too timid to approach the divers.

All in all, it was a phenomenal week and I can't wait to go back next year. With such great photo ops it was hard to decide what to include in this overview but here are few scenes from that week to give you an idea of how intense the action was:



Even before setting sail for the Bahamas, I was already in shooting mode. I spent a few days chasing American alligators in the swamps of South Florida with Film Maker Joe Romeiro.

As I have no experience shooting big reptiles, I was pretty nervous being around the lizard king and wondered if I should have bought a pole cam with me to put a little distance between me and the gators but even the big animals were reasonably well behaved.

The images (shot with a fisheye lens) are an interesting addition to any shooter's portfolio and after posting them on my Facebook page I was asked if I planned to lead gator trips. Its an intriguing idea but I'll stick with big ocean animals for now.



In March I spent some time in the Darien jungle talking to fishermen about the endemic shark species that live in the area. After a lot of hunting, I was finally able to get the first in-water images of a scoophead shark. This is one of the smaller hammerhead species that has eluded photographers for so long.

Scoophead sharks are far too timid to approach a diver (no matter how much chum is in the water) so to get the shots I spent a lot of time in a small panga shadowing the fishing boats as they pulled in their nets. The scoophead in my images came up on the last day of the trip and after a short negotiation involving the promise of a bottle of rum, the fishermen allowed me to release the ailing shark.

Global shark populations are dwindling and inshore endemic species like the scoophead that have limited ranges are particularly vulnerable to gill netters. Obtaining representative images for conservation initiatives is extremely important.

Its sad to say, but in some ways my expeditions to shoot the world's most illusive and endangered sharks, are my way of recording archival footage of species that may soon be gone.



Another shark that has seen better days is the oceanic whitetip. Virtually eliminated from the Gulf of Mexico, there are few places left where oceanics can be reliably found. One of those places is Cat Island on the eastern edge of the Bahamian chain. In May of this year, I will be joining 7 guests on a week long, land based expedition to dive with these ocean ocean predators and a handful of other shark species that call Cat Island home.



With just a few weeks to go and one spot still open, I am running a last minute special for one lucky diver - $1995. Includes 5 days of boat diving and beach house accommodation on Cat Island. Email me if you want to come:


Summer trips and beyond....


SHARKFEST 2011 - Morehead City August 5-7

On the first weekend of August.... Sharkfest is back!

If you missed the action last year there is a trip report on the epic shark diving that we enjoyed, plus film screenings and fun. This year we're stepping it up by adding a night dive with the sandtiger sharks on our first day. Space on the boat is limited and right now there are only five spots left so sign up now if you want to come. 3 days of shark diving, dorm accommodation, BBQ, film screenings, and a Sharkfest Tee Shirt $640.



Later in August we'll be chasing humboldts and whales in the Sea of Cortez (only 4 spots left). This will no doubt be the most eclectic trip of the year. In a nut shell, we'll be diving Baja's best reefs each day while we cruise north to Loretto. Between dives we'll be scouting for fin whales, sperm whales and pilot whales to jump in the water with. Once we get to Loretto we'll be diving by day and jigging up humboldts in the evenings and hopefully getting in the water to shoot free swimming humboldt squid if everything goes to plan.

As if reefs, whales, squid and sea lions wasn't enough, the operator has agreed to let me try chumming for sharks at some locations. This is a bit of a wild card and we are not sure what species (if any) will show up but I can't go all the way to Baja without looking for sharks.



There are no links or images on the Big Fish Expeditions Website for this one yet so I'll blog about it more in the next update. But to give you a brief idea, at Malpelo (a day's boat ride off the coast of Panama) you can expect to see schooling scalloped hammerheads, silky shaks, Galapagos sharks, random sightings of mantas and whale sharks, and many other pelagic visitors as well as reefs crawling in morays and large stingrays.

But in February and March on the deeper reefs around the rocky island, there is the chance to see enormous Smalltooth Sandtiger Sharks (Odontaspis ferox) which are the sandtiger's big cousin from the depths.

If you think you've seen it all you have to dive Malpelo.

We'll be on the liveaboard Inula. Although I have barely talked to anyone about this trip there are already only 6 spots left so please send me an email if you want more info.



Between expeditions, I'll be enjoying the diving around Vancouver Island with Pinnacle Scuba Adventures. Pinnacle is southern Vancouver Island's newest and most versatile dive charter operator. We'll be diving some of the best sites on the south end of the island and exploring new locations each week throughout the summer.  Join us if you're up this way.


For the sharks,

Andy Murch


























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