Salmon Sharks 2017 in a Nutshell
Another great trip to Alaska. Excellent salmon shark encounters around the boat, surreal diving in jelly blooms, giant pacific octopuses and wolf eels on the reef dives and topside encounters with orcas!
The salmon shark action on this year’s trip got better every day. On the first day the sharks were completely absent. It was mildly disturbing to not see any but we knew that they were still in the area because the salmon were running.
On the second day one of our guests saw one underwater while we were diving on a Moon Jelly Bloom. That was more reassuring but we still needed to get them to the boat.
On day three we went back to ‘Shark Alley’ where we have had the best success in previous years and sure enough, there were fins at the surface. We slid into the water while our host threw in a few fish and then cast a line with a mackerel attached (no hook of course). This is how you lead salmon sharks to the boat.
Sure enough, a lightning fast salmon shark streaked in and snatched the fish off the line right in front of us while we snapped away with our cameras.
From this point on, the shark activity continued to build. By the last day, we sharks all day and we quickly made up for lost time, shooting image after image of the sharks in action. It was an excellent photoshoot!
Moon Jelly Blooms
This year, by popular demand, we concentrated heavily on diving in the moon jelly blooms. You may think jellyfish diving sounds a bit dull but it was so much fun and such a beautiful spectacle that everyone wanted to keep doing it.
Living in the Pacific northwest, I am used to seeing clouds of moon jellies and large lions mane jellyfish but the blooms in Prince William Sound are much larger and denser than anything I have encountered before. There must have been hundreds of thousands of moon jellies in some of the blooms. They were so thick that it was impossible to see more than a few inches in some spots. Swimming into and emerging out of the blooms made for some great selfie opportunities 🙂
Some of the jellies had resident fishes that I had not seen before. Pacific fish expert Milton Love thinks these may be juvenile oarfish – a species that is difficult to find as adults let alone in juvenile form.
In one of the lions mane jellies I also saw a crested sculpin. The fish seemed impervious to the jelly’s highly toxic tentacles.
The reef diving was pretty good but we did not make it out to the high current areas where the invertebrate life is out of control because we were fixated on the sharks.
Next time I’ll make a point of getting out to the best sites. But, even in the low current areas, we came across fields of giant plumose anemones, octopuses and wolf eels so maybe I am being a little too critical 🙂
Personally, I am very excited about heading back next year. If you want to get great shots of an apex predator that few divers have ever seen, this is your chance! Join our 2018 Salmon Shark Expedition