A Big Fish Expeditions Trip Report
There are trips that flop (very occasionally), there are trips that go really well and then there are those expeditions that you never forget because they exceed all expectations. This year’s Oceanic Whitetip Expedition to Cat Island falls unquestionably into the third category because it delivered consistently amazing encounters with a dozen or more oceanics that arrived in ones and twos shortly after we started chumming and stayed with us until we headed back to the marina each afternoon.
Although it was a great trip overall, the expedition got off to a shaky start. We got completely skunked on day one. We were chumming in an area that was good in previous years but for some reason the sharks were elsewhere and we headed home concerned for the overall success of the expedition. That night we found out from the sport fishermen that the sharks were harassing every fish they caught around Columbus Point; another hotspot that had delivered us sharks in years past.
The next day (after a mere twenty minutes of chumming at Columbus Point) we saw the first dappled white dorsal snaking towards the boat and before the guests could even jump into the water a second and third shark had sniffed out the bait. What followed was four days of world class encounters with more oceanic whitetip sharks than any of us could keep an eye on at once.
The crew of the boat worked tirelessly to keep the sharks around us while we enjoyed one exciting dive after another in the company of 6-9ft oceanic predators. The photographic opportunities were so plentiful and varied that everyone with a camera (no matter how accomplished) came home with excellent images and footage.
And then there were the surprises: mahi mahi came by in ones and twos and we had visits from silkies and a large dusky shark. Try as I might I could not get close enough to the shy 9ft dusky for a good image but it was still a great species to add to the list of visitors on this year’s trip.
But the most magical encounter came at noon on the last day when a beautifully marked blue marlin rocketed up from the inky depths and buzzed everyone in the water. Although it left as quickly and suddenly as it came, a few of us were fortunate enough to come away with some excellent images of that iconic fish. Now I am even more excited to dive with striped marlin later this year in Baja!
As the last day drew to a close we drifted with the tide into shallow water. Our captain and crew worked hard to keep the sharks around us as we neared the beach and they were able to entice these deep ocean sharks into 60ft of water, resulting in some unique images of oceanics swimming over the reef.
Each day we also tried our luck at ‘oceanic snaps’. Shooting over/under shots of bold, excited oceanic sharks while floating in a chum slick in choppy water next to a bouncing boat is not exactly easy but given enough chances (and big enough memory cards) we finally managed to nail some cool shots from both worlds at once.
Thank you to our crew for all the hard work and professionalism. Thank you to the sharks – may they multiply in a slightly safer ocean now that they are protected under the new CITES listing. And finally, a huge thank you to my guests on this year’s trip. I couldn’t have asked for nicer group of new and old friends to share this expedition with!
Inevitably after such a great trip, I can’t resist running another expedition 🙂 Join me next year: