A BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS TRIP
Shark Diving Expedition April 2012
As always, the sharks
were waiting for us as soon as we arrived at Tiger Beach.
This was my seventh season at this notorious sand bar and I
have never had to wait more than a few minutes for the
sharks to show up to the boat.
We spent our first morning chumming up beefy lemon sharks
(and hoping for a tiger or two to show up). Once
everyone had gotten their fill of the omnipresent lemons we
headed off to Fish Tales which is only about a km away. Fish
Tales is my favorite spot in the Tiger Beach area because it
gets just as much action as Tiger Beach itself but there are
healthy reefs there (as opposed to the scrubby sand at TB)
so the backdrop for images is far more interesting:
As I expected, some of the lemon sharks followed us to Fish
Tales where they were joined by about 25 Caribbean reef
sharks and a large resident nurse shark that spent most of
the week nonchalantly laying next to the bait crate trying
to suck scraps through the bars.
Our first tiger showed up on the second morning. Although
they are huge animals that you would expect to be very bold,
tiger sharks are quite shy until they get used to divers.
This one was a large female looking very pregnant. Its
always nice to see that there is another generation of tiger
sharks on the way!
She swum around the perimeter of the reef searching for the
source of the delicious scent and then disappeared
into the blue only to return repeatedly throughout the day.
The shark action on Fish Tales Reef was excellent. The swim
deck of the Dolphin Dream soon became a revolving door of
divers jumping in and out of the water. The nice thing about
Fish Tales and Tiger Beach is that the water is so shallow
that you can stay in virtually all day without having to
worry about decompression. Having said that, somehow I
managed to stay down so long on this trip that I ended up
with a 7 minute deco stop from a 35ft dive :)
At sunset we crowded onto the large swim platform on the
stern of the Dolphin Dream and shot 'lemon snaps' which is a
very unique form of photography where the sharks are
wrangled right up to the camera to get over under shots.
This trip was officially a shark photography workshop, so
each evening I ran through a presentation on one aspect of
shark photography or another. Its always tricky when
coaching shooters that range from beginner to expert but I
think everyone got something out of the class. I always look
for something new to play with too. This year I played
around with spotlighting sharks at night. No Photoshop here,
just creative strobe placement:
The real highlight for me this year was the
Atlantic spotted dolphins which I
have not incorporated into my Tiger Beach trips before. From
now on, they'll be a fixture of every trip!
Kicking after dolphins was not easy because
the dolphins quickly got bored of our pathetic swimming and
free diving skills. Fortunately the crew of the Dolphin
Dream know exactly how to keep them interested. The Dive
Master jumps in with a scooter and spins and pirouettes
underwater to the delight of the dolhins then like the Pied
Piper he leads them back to the exhausted divers. Its a
great sytem that gave us lots of great photo ops. Here is
Travis leading a pod of dolphins into the frame of one of
We also played with spotted dolphins at
night. This is a very different and much easier way to shoot
Atlantic spotted dolphins because at night they come right
up to the boat in order to feed on flying fish which are
attracted to the boat's underwater lights. It was a great
All in all it was an awesome week at Tiger
Beach: dolphins, lemon sharks, tigers, Caribbean reef
sharks, nurse sharks and even a couple of great hammerhead
fly-bys although no one managed to catch them on film.
Cruising back into West Palm Beach after a
week at Tiger Beach I could see a lot of happy tired faces
on the boat. I was tired too (especially from the dolphins)
but life is short! After a day of rest two of the guests
flew with me to Cat Island which is just a 40 minute flight
away. After all, how better to wind down from a shark
filled week at Tiger Beach than to spend a week
oceanic whitetip sharks!
Join me at Tiger Beach in 2013
Beach Shark Safari and Photo Workshop