Unforgettable Shark Diving and Big Animal Encounters

Trip Reports

Makos and Smooth Hammerhead Snorkeling 2020

By March 31, 2020 April 13th, 2020 No Comments

A Big Fish Expeditions Trip Report

Snorkeling with Mako Sharks in Mexico.
Makos 2020 in a Nutshell

Weirdly, we had to bait for a long time to get good encounters, but at the same time, this year included some of the best shark interactions I have had in Cabo. We did not see any blue sharks but we came home with lots of new mako shots and dream shots of a species that is usually very difficult to see.

Why no Blue Sharks?

Every shark has it’s preferences: preferred diet, preferred terrain, preferred water clarity, and preferred temperature range. Change any of those variables and you may not see what you’re looking for. This year’s trip to Cabo was great in many ways but the water temps were almost 10ºC warmer than one would expect in early March. Because of this, the usually omnipresent blue sharks were nowhere to be seen, but the ocean delivered smooth hammerheads instead; a species that we normally wouldn’t see because it prefers warmer conditions that you don’t usually get off Cabo Arch at this time of year.

Snorkeling with Smooth Hammerhead Sharks in Mexico.
Mako!

As usual, we ran two back-to-back trips. They’re short (3 days in the water) , which makes them affordable and just the right length for ‘add-on adventure’ at the beginning or end of a trip to Socorro. Serious shooters often sign up for both weeks in order to up their chances of good photo ops.

Both trips had makos and smooth hammerheads but the best opportunities came on the first week; including when this feisty guy showed up.

Snorkeling with makos and blue sharks.
Let it Blow

As I’ve already said, you need the right ocean conditions to get the sharks you’re looking for, but just because you have the right temperature, upwellings, etc, etc, doesn’t mean you’re going to see sharks. When you’re laying out a chum slick for pelagic sharks, you also need wind. The wind pulls the boat across the surface, leaving behind a nice long river of oily chum. Any sharks crossing the slick, swim up-current until they find the source of the smell i.e. the chum bucket.

Snorkeling with makos and blue sharks.
The Perfect Storm

Our third day at sea started with a gentle breeze but soon climbed up to a blustery 30kt cyclone. Most small craft were told to return to shore but our sturdy sport fisher remained 5km off the coast. Sure enough along came Mr Mako swimming up the slick looking for lunch. And once he found the boat, he stayed put until the wind got so strong that we decided to call it a day.

In this dramatic image, you can see that a big wave has just crashed over the top of the mako. It swamped me too and left me coughing into my snorkel but not before I snapped this shot.

Snorkeling with makos and blue sharks.
Will 2021 be business as usual?

I suspect that next year, the water temps will be back to normal, which will mean we swap hammers for blue sharks. We have had both on the trip but it is unusual. You can see blue sharks in numerous places around the world, so I’d be happy if the hammers showed up instead.

If you don’t know your hammerheads, you may not realize how special it is to see a smooth hammerhead. There are nine species of hammerheads. The big ones you see at shark feeds in the Bahamas, are great hammerheads. The ones you see schooling at various offshore sea mounts around the world are scalloped hammerheads. Other than those two, you may be lucky enough to run into a little bonnethead shark in the Florida Keys but thats about it. All of the others are incredibly shy.
I once found a smooth hammer in La Paz Bay, and a couple of babies showed up off the coast of South Africa when I was on the Sardine Run, but these are exceptions to the rule and I spend a lot of time chasing sharks. So, until we started chumming in Cabo, smooth hammerhead encounters were virtually unheard of. Now, thats all changed.

Regardless of the species, our Mako Expedition is a fun trip. Join us next year and see what shows up! Makos and Blue Sharks (or maybe hammerheads) 2021 

Smooth Hammerhead Diving
Striped Marlin next year too!

BTW, while we were in Baja, we hashed out the logistics for an awesome new Striped Marlin trip on the Pacific Coast. The marlins are there to eat migrating sardines; just like the predators do on the Sardine Run in South Africa. This yearly event also attracts sharks and dolphins but the stars of the show are schools of striped marlin that tear through the bait ball, plucking sardines at every pass. You’re going to love it! Striped Marlin Expedition

Striped Marlin Snorkeling