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Whale Shark Encounters in Mexico
Tiger Beach tiger shark diving
Great hammerhead shark diving
Beluga Whale Diving
giant manta dive at Isla Socorro
humpback whale diving
killer whale orca encounter
Dive with Great Whites, Sevengill Sharks, Makos, Blue Sharks, 5 species of Catsharks and Spotted Gully Sharks in False Bay, South Africa.
sardine run diving
sailfish diving
 
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SARDINE RUN 2018 TRIP REPORT

 

Dolphins on a baitball during the sardine run.

 

2018 Sardine Run in a Nut Shell: Good bait balls on some days, some with brydes whales and one with a Cape Fur Seal. Excellent humpback action including breaching displays and one whale that played with us in the water for more than one hour!

 

Humpback whale on the sardine run

 

2018 was a great year for sardines. Some years the bait balls are mostly composed of red-eye, mackerel or anchovies. These fish don't behave the same. They run faster, they do not form such tights schools and they break up too quickly. Sardines on the other hand, are well behaved until the very last fish has met its demise. Consequently, when you have actual sardines, the predators behave better as well, so when we got on a bait ball, we had ample opportunity to shoot the action.

 

Dolphins smashing a baitball on the Sardine Run.

 

Visibility could have been better but we worked around the cloudy conditions as best we could. It did mean that we couldn't reef dive but we had enough water clarity to enjoy good encounters at the surface.

 

Common Dolphins super pod

 

We chummed for sharks on one day and got some interest from a couple of bronze whaler sharks but for the most part we concentrated on bait balls.

 

Bronze whaler shark on the sardine run

 

A few times during the trip we spotted cape fur seals bobbing at the surface. I have seen penguins this far north and a few other odd predators but this was a first.

One seal put on a great show. For around 30 minutes we watched him smashing the ball, deftly plucking a fish from the school with each pass.

 

Cape fur seal on a bait ball during the sardine run.

 

Speaking of strange encounters, we also stumbled upon a mola mola but even without a tail, it quickly outpaced me with barely a proof of life picture for my efforts.

 

Mola mola on the sardine run

 

The highlight of the trip for me was the humpbacks. Some put on aerial displays that allowed us to get breaching images, others swum past close enough for us to leap in and take underwater images.

 

Breaching humpback whale on the Sardine Run.

 

On our last day, we had an amazing encounter with a humpback that lasted more than an hour. Whereas humpback encounters on the run usually involve jumping in in-front of the whales as they pass by, one friendly animal took a shine to us and swum and rolled around and around among the delighted divers.

 

Friendly humpack whale on the sardine run.

 

The whale repeatedly spy-hopped in the middle of the group, then swum slowly, belly-up under us while we shot image after image. The encounter took place in the shallows where the visibility was extremely challenging but the whale came so close that we got an excellent look anyway. It was a fantastic end to the trip.

 

Spy hopping humpback whale

 

As usual we stayed at a lodge called The Creek where the food is delicious and the staff treat us like family. Behind the lodge, a resident troop of vervet monkeys live in the branches of a gigantic bamboo tree. They're quite shy but with patience you can usually snap a few images of them.

 

Vervet monkey on the Sardine Run.

 

No water fall visits this year because the weather was good enough for us to go to sea everyday but we did make a sunset trip to airstrip where the views of the Umzimvubu River are spectacular.

 

Sardine run guests enjoying the view of the Umzimvubu river.

 

Before we knew it, nine days on the water had come and gone and we were saying our goodbyes. Of course, we will be back next year to see what the ocean has to offer. Join us on the 2019 South African Sardine Run 'The greatest shoal on earth!'

 

Bait ball diving with dolphins on the sardine run.

 

 

A PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS FROM BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS FUNDS

THE PREDATORS IN PERIL PROJECT

predatorsinperil.org

 

 

 

American crocodile diving

Snorkel with Japanese Giant Salamanders

 

READ THE LATEST:

2018 Japan Shark Safari
Trip Report

 

Andy Murch Trip Leader

Andy Murch

EXPEDITION LEADER

Andy Murch is a fanatical big animal diver.

He has photographed and dived with more sharks than most people on this planet and he's very good at it.

Andy's images and shark stories have appeared in hundreds of books and magazines around the world from titles as varied as Canadian Geographic, Scuba Diving, FHM, Digital Photography,  and the Journal of Zoology.

Andy is the Creator of the ever expanding Shark and Ray Field Guide on Elasmodiver

 

When not running big animal expeditions or on photographic assignments, Andy lives and dives on Vancouver Island, Canada

 

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Predators in Peril

Andy is also the driving force behind the PREDATORS IN PERIL PROJECT which shines a spotlight on many endangered species of sharks and rays that are largely overlooked by mainstream conservation groups. Predators In Peril is entirely funded by Big Fish Expeditions.

 

Find out more here:

 

pip.org

 

Predators in Peril Project