25- 31 January 2012
Here’s an invitation to join me on a very special trip for underwater photographers interested in shark images.
Our latest shark adventure is going to be a very exciting winter time trip. The winter time is “thick with sharks” in the northern Bahamas. This is due partially to the slightly cooler water temperatures and partially because of the huge snapper spawns that occur only at this time of year. The great hammerhead is especially active, but we expect that several species will be on hand to fill our viewfinders. For this trip, we will start everyone off at the famed “Tiger Beach”, home to numerous large tiger and lemon sharks. This shallow, flat, white-sandy bottom, backed by cobalt-blue Bahamian water, sets the perfect stage in which to photograph sharks. Lot’s of sunlight, great visibility and easy access, right near the boat makes this a logical starting point. After we have filled our hard drives with tiger and lemon shark images from the sunny shallows of Tiger Beach, we will head out to the western edges of the Little Bahama Bank for some spectacular shark reef diving. There, we will encounter dozens of Caribbean reef, more tiger and lemon sharks and with a little luck, the great hammerhead shark. With the colorful Bahamian reef as a backdrop, we will set up to capture some dynamic “shark on the reef portraits”. Sharks of all species look best when photographed over the colorful red, orange and purple sponges of these pristine reefs. You will have the opportunity to create some of the most remarkable “shark-in-nature” images ever.
With all of my trips, I look to the experts for local knowledge. Only “the best of the best” will do and in this case, that is Jim Abernethy and his crew. Jim and his crew share an incredible passion and knowledge of sharks. They are the world renowned experts when it comes to getting divers close up and personal with large sharks safely. Jim discovered tiger beach and pioneered the techniques that we will use to entice these large predators near to us, in as safe a fashion as is humanly possibly. Our home base for this one-of-kind expedition will be the custom dive boat the M.V. Shear Water. Shear Water has been home to several successful shark expeditions, including, but not limited to National Geographic. She is 65′ long and though the space is limited, group size is small and everyone will be very comfortable. Shear Water is set up perfectly for underwater photographers and shark diving. We will spend 5 days and 6 nights aboard, photographing and videoing every shark species that we encounter. The list of species can be pretty extensive for just one trip and it is possible to encounter all of the following sharks: Tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier), lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi), great hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna mokarran) and bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas). All cruise these waters, however, we never guarantee anything, because these are wild animals. That said, we have also seen silky, nurse, blacktip and even great whites in this area. Each day we will end our diving at sunset, anchor in the calm shallows of the Little Bahama banks, have dinner, download images and recharge our batteries.
The Shear Water departs from and returns to her dock in West Palm Beach, Florida, just a 20 minute taxi ride from the West Palm Beach International airport (PBI). Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures (JASA) office will be our gathering and check-in point the evening of 25 Jan. The office is located a block across U.S. Highway 1 from the marina where the boat is docked and also houses Jim’s own ocean art gallery with a small boutique of his logoed t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts for souveniers. Our return to the dock will be the morning of 31 Jan.
This trip is designed for underwater photographers and videographers that are interested in close-up shark action. There are no cages, you will be diving in the open sea with large predatory baited sharks! Please be sure that you are mentally and physically prepared for this. Our dives will range in depth from 10-20′ at Tiger Beach, to 40-100′ on the reefs. (Nitrox is available for $100 for the entire trip). Our goal is to get large predatory sharks, like tiger sharks, bull sharks and great hammerhead sharks in to close range (1-2′) of you and your camera, so that you can get the best shark portraits possible. This will be some of the most unforgettable, exciting, intense and rewarding diving that you will ever do. You will come away with a whole new appreciation for sharks and hopefully lots of great images and video too. There will be plenty of other marine life around as well, like sea turtles, huge grouper, schooling jacks and snapper and large green moray eels. The limited Bahamian “winter” is the best time to see the great hammerhead shark. This elusive loner can show up at anytime and is the most spectacular of all the species. January and February have proven to be the best months for viewing the great hammerhead shark.
Please note: Divers must be experienced in open ocean, deep, current and blue water diving. We will be diving near “bait crates” full of dead fish, that give off blood and scent in the water. They are manned by a professional shark diver so that we can get close interaction with these sharks in their natural habitat. All divers will be required to wear full wetsuits, hoods and gloves for safety. No bright colors on dive gear will be allowed, especially, white, red, yellow and silver as these colors may attract unwanted attention from some species. Tanks and weights are provided, along with all meals and non-alcholic beverages. A shark diving orientation and safety briefing will be given on the way to our first dive site. All divers must attend it, whether this is their first trip or their 20th.
Veteran underwater photographer, Andrew Sallmon, is the group leader for this exclusive trip. He is a dive Instructor and has over 32 years and 8500 dives in his career. Andy has been working as a full-time professional underwater photographer for the past 11 years and has been leading photographic shark expeditions for the past 7 years. He is a veteran of tiger beach and one of the first, along with Jim Abernethy to dive it. Andy’s talents behind the camera do not stop there, as he is also a well-known underwater photography instructor and equipment specialist, familiar with all types of gear. He and Jim will share their extensive knowledge of “How to get the best shark shots” with everyone and will assist you by setting up as many shots for you as they can. The dive boat Shear Water, owned and operated by Jim Abernethy and crewed by Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures’ (JASA) divemasters, has been operating in Bahamian waters for the past 15 years and taking divers all over the islands to get up close with sharks. Jim and his skilled crew are some of the most experienced shark operators in the world and have an excellent record for finding and getting divers in the water safely, with large predatory sharks.
This “one-of-a-kind” limited load (10 divers) Shark Photo Expedition is only $3000, plus $105 Bahamian Tax. Airfare and transfers are not included. Nitrox additional $100