A Big Fish Expeditions Trip Report
Yet again we had phenomenal great hammerhead action in Bimini this year. On our first week we lost two days to weather but other than that, the shark action was world class. Interestingly, after three years of contact with divers, the hammerheads are much more relaxed so the encounters are more consistent and the photographic opportunities are even better than before.
The number of hammerheads was up. On our best day last year, 9 different hammerheads showed up. This year we were hoping for 10 but we destroyed that record during our second week when 13 different great hammerheads showed up for lunch. It was a sublime feeling to be surrounded by huge but gentle hammerheads all day long.
One evening on each week we also extended the encounters into the night. The hammerheads were more than happy to hang around hoping for an extra tidbit or two.
Focusing our cameras with the lights streaming down from Neal Watson’s dive boat, we were able to capture some dramatic images of the sharks against the inky darkness.
Even during the two days that we lost to weather, we made the most of the opportunity by switching to a different boat with a shallow draft. We went deep into the mangroves where small sharks can often be seen. There we found some nurse sharks hiding under the roots of red mangrove trees, large stingrays hunting on the tidal flats and all manner of strange mangrove critters like upside-down jellies and enormous leopard-spotted sea hares.
We also visited the shark lab and learned a great deal about their ongoing hammerhead shark research around Bimini.
Perhaps the most challenging photographic opportunity came midway through week two when some of us crowded onto the swim step to attempt to capture some ground breaking over/under images of the hammerheads at sunset. It was a tricky shoot but lots of fun.
We also sailed over to Triangle Rocks and Gun Cay one day to shoot some other shark species. At Triangle Rocks we conducted a feed with Caribbean reef sharks and tiny blacknose sharks. The blacknoses were skittish especially with all of us chasing them across the reef but we did manage to get some images of both species.
Gun Cay is an interesting little uninhabited island that I had not visited before. While there we struck out on the bull sharks we were hoping to see but we enjoyed a fun feed in the shallows with some enormous southern stingrays and more blacknose sharks and a few juvenile blacktips. All in all it was a great day in the water and we still made it back to the hammerhead grounds for dusk encounter with our favourite sharks!
Bimini delivered endless epic encounters this year. I can only imagine how good it is going to be in 2016 when the hammers are even friendlier!