About Me

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I am a Shark and Big Animal Photographer and the Founder of Big Fish Expeditions. I also pilot research submersibles on rare occasions but primarily I photograph sharks and rays. The shark images that I take have been used in many commercial publications but most importantly I try to concentrate on shooting rare and endangered species of sharks for conservation initiatives. It is a labour of love.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

PREDATOR HEAVEN!

     A KILLER START TO 2014!

Our first Norwegian Orca Expedition was a resounding success! We spent the first half of the trip scuba diving in the fiords while a storm raged offshore but as soon as the wind dropped we headed out to sea and found multiple pods of killer whales feeding on huge balls of herring. It was an experience I will never forget! Follow this link to the 2014 Killer Whale Expedition Trip Report

HAMMERED IN BIMINI
Great hammerheads on a dive
As soon as we made landfall in Kristiansund at the end of the Killer Whale Expedition, I flew straight to the Bahamas to meet our first group of hammerhead shark divers. For two glorious weeks we dove with Great Hammerheads, Bull Sharks, Nurse Sharks and even snuck in a reef dive with Caribbean Reef Sharks and Blacknose Sharks. The hammer action was world class. With thousands of great hammerhead images to choose from and some amazing videos submitted our guests, this trip report will definitely make you drool! Plus, you have to see what showed up on the Big Fish Deep Cam at 800ft!2014 Great Hammerhead Expedition Trip Report

ALLIGATOR SNAPS
On the way home from the Bahamas we stopped in South Florida for a couple of days to decompress. What better way to do that, than to spend some time playing in the swamp with alligators :) It was also a great warm up for our American Crocodile Expedition in Chinchorro Mexico later this summer

SAILFISH SURPRISE!
After only three days back in Canada I was back on a plane for our Sailfish Expedition in Cancun, Mexico. After a slow start, the sailfish finally showed themselves and we spent many hours finning manically after sardine bait balls being decimated by sailfish.
A large group of hunting sailfish
It was great to see so many healthy predators hunting in the wild but on our last day we also encountered a large aggregation of feeding mantas and mobulas and then a completely unexpected super pod of False Killer Whales appeared. It doesn't get much better than that! Read the trip report here: 2014 Sailfish Expedition Trip Report.
Swimming with false killer whales


INTRODUCING THE MIDRIFF ISLANDS - A GREAT NEW EVENT ON THE BIG FISH SCHEDULE!
In September 2015, join us aboard the Rocio Del Mar for a week long expedition to the Midriff Islands in the northern Sea of Cortez. The Midriffs are a seldom visited group of islands with dramatic reefscapes, numerous whale species and schooling humboldt squid. Get ready for adventure!
Not only is this a world class destination, it is also affordable and extremely easy for North Americans to get to: Whale and Humboldt Squid Adventure
Humboldt Squid Diving

LAST MINUTE SUMMER OPENINGS:

SOCORRO
If you're reeeeeally quick, we have one cancellation on our yearly Socorro Trip. The boat leaves Cabo San Lucas on March 19th... Socorro Manta Adventure

THE SARDINE RUN
We have a few spots left if you'd like to join us in South Africa this June. The yearly Sardine Run is one of the most spectacular events in the sea. If you haven't done this epic adventure. Join us! Sardine Run and Wild Coast Shark Safari.
Blacktips hunting on the sardine run

SALMON SHARKS
Just a couple of spots open on our Salmon Shark Adventure in Prince William Sound, Alaska. As well as chasing salmon sharks, we'll be diving Alaska's pristine reefs and bear watching along the shores of Fidalgo Inlet. Join us for an adventure on a grand scale! Salmon Shark Adventure
Salmon Shark Diving

ISLA MUJERES GREAT WHALE SHARK ADVENTURE
Nowhere in the world can you see this many enormous whale sharks in one place. So if you have time in the summer, don't miss this epic event: The Great Whale Shark Fiesta

BELUGAS IN CANADA
Just four spots open on our Beluga Whale Expedition. Plunge into Hudson Bay among thousands of friendly Beluga Whales: Beluga Whale Expedition

MAKO MADNESS
Join us in September aboard the Sea Watch and dive with mako and blue sharks in the crystal clear waters of Southern California. Then drift along a reef with angel sharks and other Pacific shark species:Mako Shark Adventure

SWIM WITH THRESHER SHARKS
Then in November join us on beautiful Malapascua Island in the Philippines to dive with Pelagic Thresher Sharks. Malapascua is a real tropical paradise and the diving (both big animal and macro) is extraordinary. Don't miss this amazing trip: Thresher Shark Diving Malapascua.
thresher shark diving

NO MORE BULL SHARKS
To be candid, we had a Bull Shark Expedition scheduled for November but there were so many bulls on our Bimini Hammerhead Trip that we feel a dedicated bull shark trip would be redundant. So, if you want to see bull sharks up close and personal, join us in Bimini next February!
diving with a bull shark

I guess that's enough temptation for now. If like me you live in the northern hemisphere, enjoy the spring and get ready for a long hot summer. If you live down south and its starting feel kinda cold in your neck of the woods, maybe you should fly up here and join one of our action-packed big animal adventures.

Never hang up your fins,
Andy


Andy Murch is a professional big animal photographer and the founder of Big Fish Expeditions.

2014 EXTREME SHARK AND WHALE DIVING

     CHASING BIG FISH MIGRATIONS

It will be hard to top last year's amazing expeditions but we're going to give it a try. Our 2014 calendar is even more action packed with classic expeditions and brand new off-the-beaten-path adventures. Why? Because life is too darn short to NOT fill it with amazing memories whenever you can!
I love the planning and execution of new adventures. As I research new big animal destinations, one theme reoccurs over and over; if you want to see big pelagic predators, you need to follow the mass fish migrations that occur all around the world at different times of the year.
Some events are hard to predict and some frustratingly occur at the same time on opposite sides of the planet. But it seems as though there is always a sardine run, or a herring run, or a tuna spawning event going on somewhere. My job is to make sure that we're in the right place at exactly the right time to enjoy world class encounters with the ocean's heavy weights. Your job is to meet me there are enjoy the adventure of a life time.

STARTING 2014 WITH AN EXTREME ADVENTURE!
In a few days I am flying to Rorvik in Norway to lead our first Orca Diving Expedition. This is one of those encounters that is highly unpredictable but we have partnered with the absolute best Norwegian Orca Diving Operator. The news from Norwegian Killer Whale researchers is extremely promising. Apparently the North Sea Herring Run is in full swing right now and there are hundreds of orcas and whales coming in to feed up and down the coast. Expect a trip report as soon as we return.
We have chartered the boat again for the 2015 killer whale season and it is already filling up! If you didn't have a chance to come this year, join us for the 2015 Norwegian Orca Expedition
Orca diving

GREAT HAMMERHEAD SEASON
As soon as we make landfall after our killer whale expedition, I am flying directly to Bimini in the Bahamas for two back to back Great Hammerhead Expeditions. The hammers have already started showing up so 'hammer season' should be at its peak by the time our guests arrive. Its amazing to think that the most sought after shark species in the Bahamas has been congregating right off of coast of South Bimini Island without anyone having a clue until the researchers at the Bimini Shark Lab noticed them a few short years ago. Personally, I can't wait for the chance to share the water with multiple great hammerhead sharks! Grab the last spot on our Feb 8-14 trip: Great Hammerhead Diving

SAILFISH
Later in February I'll be down in Mexico for our yearly sailfish expedition. This is another encounter that is timed around a mass migration. Each year between January and March, millions of sardines migrate along the east coast of Mexico. The fish form a river of life on the sea bed. Thousands of sailfish head to the shores of Cancun to take advantage of this annual bounty. In groups of 20-50, the sailfish corral large swathes of sardines and herd them to the surface so that they can pin the hapless fish against the barrier of air and pick them off one by one. Witnessing the action first hand is an experience you'll never forget! We have one spot left if you would like to join us: Sailfish Diving

INTRODUCING THE BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS DEEP CAM
When you're diving in that tantalizingly shallow strip of ocean reachable on scuba or snorkel, do you ever wonder what is down deeper? I ALWAYS DO! So, I have built a deep cam to bring on all our future expeditions so that we can film the marine life 1000ft down while we're enjoying our big animal dives. Being a shark fanatic, I am hoping that I will eventually be able to film deep water sharks but any life hundreds of feet below the surface is fascinating as this first attempt (shot during our striped marlin expedition) demonstrates:
Follow this link if you cant see the video: ATTACK OF THE SQUAT LOBSTERS
From this point on, I will try to bring the deep cam on every trip where there is deep enough water. For those of you that are on our sold out Socorro and Tiger Beach trips in March and April, you'll be the first to witness this brand new dynamic on our trips!

NOTHING BEATS THE SHARK DIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA!
The place I am most excited about returning to this summer is South Africa! There are a number reasons:
Firstly, the shark diving in False Bay (near Cape Town) is the best I have ever done. Up to 10 species of sharks in a week of diving including flying white sharks! Plus, we manage to cram in a terrestrial game drive to shoot the big five, and other topside excursions to see African penguins and all sorts of other exotic African wildlife. If you've never dove South Africa, this is the trip for you: South African Shark Diving Safari

Secondly, straight after our Cape Town Shark Safari, we are heading east to the Sardine Run. This is an event that occurs each year when millions of sardines migrate along the South African coastline pursued by thousands of dolphins, sharks, whales and diving birds. When the weather, sardines, and big animals all come together, the South African Sardine Run is probably the most visually spectacular event in the ocean.
Added to this, Big Expeditions Sardine Run trip will have some exciting twists. Each afternoon when the other boats are heading back to land, we'll either be chumming offshore to bring in bronze whalers and other pelagic predators, or we'll conduct exploratory dives on the beautiful inshore reefs of the Wild Coast where few humans have had the chance to dive. Two spots left if you'd like to join this amazing expedition: Dive the Sardine Run

Thirdly, South Africa has incredible shark diversity. As I mentioned in my rant about the Cape Town Shark Safari, you can expect to see up to 10 species of sharks in False Bay (7 species on just one dive!) but there are even more sharks lurking below recreational diving limits and this year we'll have the deep cam with us and a big bag of bait. Who knows what species will show up to take a nibble!

SCOTTISH BASKING SHARKS
After spending three weeks in South Africa, we are heading back to the Isle of Mull to take another crack at the annual basking shark migration. Last year the warm water arrived a month later that expected which was a tragic blow to our first expedition. There was no way anyone could have known that would happen because the previous five years had enjoyed the best encounters exactly during our expedition window. This year we will try again and I expect that this year we will have an epic week of basking shark encounters! Just one spot left on the boat if you'd like to join us: Basking Shark Adventure.

ALASKAN SALMON SHARKS
In July we have our first trip to see the salmon sharks of Alaska. Think of them as mini great whites! These stocky bullets arrive in Prince William Sound each summer to feast on another migratory phenomenon; the great Alaskan salmon run. Notoriously shy, we will attempt to slip into the water with these sharks as they chase salmon into the river mouths in the northern reaches of the sound. This will be an amazing trip filled with diversity. As well as salmon sharks, we will also snorkel with the salmon themselves as they congregate in the shallows and we will do some exploratory dives on virgin shorelines where few (if any) divers have ever taken the plunge. And then there's the spectacular topside scenery plus eagles and grizzly and black bears foraging along the shores. We have just one spot left on each week:
diving in alaska

THE GREAT WHALE SHARK FIESTA
Its going to be a busy summer! After two weeks in Alaska, I arrive home to Vancouver Island early in the morning and leave again that afternoon for sunny Isla Mujeres (near Cancun).
At that time, whale sharks arrive from all over the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to gorge themselves on the eggs of spawning tunny - a small species of tuna. Nowhere in the world can you see this many enormous whale sharks in one place. So if you have time in the summer, don't miss this epic event: The Great Whale Shark Fiesta

BELUGAS IN THE BAY
Three days after whale sharks, we're heading to Churchill on the banks of Hudson Bay to swim with migrating beluga whales. This is the most accessible place on the planet to enjoy close up encounters with the world's only white whale. Known as 'the friendly whales', pods of curious belugas eagerly approach delighted snorkellers. Expect very close encounters!
After our morning beluga encounters we will drive along the shore to shoot migratory birds and beautiful tundra vistas. Although polar bears can be illusive in the summer months, hopefully we'll also get to see some cooling off in the bay.
Our first boat filled very quickly so we have chartered a second zodiac, making room for five more divers on this unique trip. : Beluga Whale Expedition

THE CROCODILES OF CHINCHORRO BANKS
As soon as we're back from belugas, I am flying straight back to Cancun to pick up our guests for our 'off the beaten path' American Crocodile Expedition. Two spots left on this trip for anyone feeling adventurous enough to follow me into the water with large crocs. Expect close encounters in clear Caribbean water. This one will be fun! Two spots left: The Crocodiles of Chinchorro Banks

CALIFORNIA MAKOS
Early September is a great time to dive in Southern California. Its an even better time to dive with shortfin mako sharks on a dedicated mako and blue shark trip! Witness the fastest fish in the sea in clear blue water and dive with blue sharks, angel sharks and explore the reefs surrounding the Santa Barbara Islands for swell sharks and horn sharks. All this in a quick 3 day, 4 night adventure! Join us if you can: Mako Shark Adventure

THE THRESHER SHARKS OF MALAPASCUA ISLAND
In November we went on a scouting trip to Malapascua Island in the Philippines to look for Pelagic Thresher Sharks. What we found was a tropical paradise in every sense of the word. The diving is extraordinary. Each morning we visited Monad Shoal where hundreds of thresher sharks make their way up from the inky depths to visit the cleaning stations. I watched one shy thresher circle me multiple times at a distance of a few meters. Finally deciding I wasn't a threat, the 10ft shark closed the gap and stalled in the water column right in front of me and then dropped its tail to signal the cleaner fish to swim over and start work.
I expected a few fleeting glimpses of this illusive species but the operator we are working with has a thresher sighting rate around 98%! That alone would be enough to warrant a guest trip but the marine life on the surrounding reefs is breath taking in its diversity. Expect pygmy sea horses, blue ringed octopuses, white spotted and banded bamboo sharks, mating mandarinfish, incredible soft coral reefs, multiple cuttlefish and squid species, ornate ghost pipefish, giant frogfishes and wrecks drenched in hard and soft corals. Malapascua is simply spectacular! Join us this November on our first guest trip:Thresher Shark Diving Malapascua.
A thresher shark on the reef

BULL SHARKS AND CENOTES
At the end of November, we are heading to sunny Mexico for the Bull Run. A stone's throw from Playa del Carmen, there is a patch of ocean patrolled by scores of beefy bull sharks. Each morning we will slip below the waves with the most experienced professional shark wranglers in Mexico. Expect very close encounters with extremely large bull sharks. The photo opportunities will be amazing!
Each afternoon, we will dive one of the thousands of ancient cenotes that pepper the jungles of Quintana Roo. Expect beautiful cave formations and exotic freshwater fishes and turtles, and if we're lucky maybe even an illusive Morolets Crocodile or two. BTW, you do not need any special certifications or experience to dive the cenotes (unless you want to go deeper into the underground labyrinths). This is the finest cavern diving in the world! Join us there: Mexican Bull Sharks and Cenotes
feeding bull sharks

So far that's it for 2014 but in 2015 the action continues...

THE GREAT WHITE SHARKS OF GUADAULPE ISLAND
The best place in the world to see Great White Sharks in crystal clear water is Guadalupe Island off the west coast of Northern Baja where hundreds of apex predators congregate each fall to feed on seals and sea lions. Feel the raw power of these incredible behemoths as they swim by, within touching distance. This is an experience that every avid shark diver must have at least once! Join us in September 2015 for an encounter you will never forget: The Great White Sharks of Guadalupe.

There are so many more trips to tell you about on the 2015 schedule but its time for me to sign off and start packing for Norway. I look forward to diving with you all on our adventures. We couldn't do this without you!

See you down there,
Andy


Andy Murch is a professional big animal photographer and the founder of Big Fish Expeditions.

Unexpected Big Animal Diving

UNEXPECTED BIG ANIMAL DIVING

WHALE SHARKS AND UNEXPECTED MANTAS
This year's Whale Shark Expedition to Isla Mujeres was off the chart. On a good day during whale shark season we generally see scores of whale sharks feeding at the surface. This summer except for one slightly slow day, we spent everyday in the presence of hundreds of whale sharks! But that's not all. This year, mixed in with whale sharks were hundreds of feeding manta rays. Where they came from and why they showed up this season is anyone's guess but it was wonderful to spend three weeks surrounded by the biggest sharks and the biggest rays on the planet! Lets hope the mantas come back for our Whale Shark Expeditions in 2014. Follow this link to the full trip report and some amazing images: Whale Sharks 2013 Trip Report

BETWEEN BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS
After Isla Mujeres, we embarked on a shark diving road trip down to California. We came home with some great new shark pics for Elasmodiver.com including these images of tope sharks. We also tried to find prickly sharks off of Monterey. Night diving in deep, murky, cold water in the red triangle was a little creepy but its the only known place to shoot this deepwater species without using a submersible. Next year we will try again!

NEW ENGLAND MAKOS, BLUES AND 50+ SPINY DOGFISH SHARKS!
In September, Big Fish Expeditions went to Rhode Island. The seas were sometimes rough (as you would expect in New England) and we had a few boat problems but we all got to encounter blues and makos. And... our experimental chumming on an inshore wreck was a huge success! We had around 50 spiny dogfish sharks show up to the shark feed and managed to get some great images. Read more here: New England Shark Safari 2013 Trip Report

NEXT UP, THE PHILIPPINES!
We are heading off on a scouting trip to the Philippines in October. Hoping this will become a Big Fish Thresher Shark Expedition next year so stay tuned!

MARLINS AND MEXICAN HORN SHARKS
In December we have a sold out trip to dive with striped marlin in Baja. It should be an awesome adventure.
Before the guests arrive, I'll be heading north to Loretto to see if I can find the illusive Mexican horn shark. I've seen their eggs on some of the deeper dive sites around that area of the Sea of Cortez so I know they're around. Perhaps the colder winter water will be the key. Wish me luck!

KILLER WHALES
After Striped Marlins, Big Fish is heading to Sri Lanka to chase blue whales (sold out) and then to Norway to swim with Killer Whales. That trip has been so popular that I am running a second trip in 2015. Space is very limited so if you want to swim with these amazing animals and dive on Norway's pristine reefs, please let me know as soon as possible! KILLER WHALES 2015

BIMINI GREAT HAMMERHEADS
One spot has opened up on our Bimini trip so jump in if you relish the thought of close encounters with enormous great hammerhead sharksI am heading to Bimini straight from Norway. I'm sure I'll get some interesting looks going into The Bahamas in my snow parka and winter boots :)

MEXICAN SAILFISH
Two spots left on our 2014 Sailfish Trip. Here is a reminder of the epic action you can experience when the sailfish are attacking a bait ball, check out this year's video:

 




WORLD CLASS DIVING AT SOCORRO
Just three spots left on our Socorro trip next March. Socorro is one of the most well rounded destinations that you'll ever have the pleasure of diving. And, its a quick hop down to Cabo to catch the boat. Expect mantas, hammerheads, silkies, galapagos sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, octos and more. You'll probably see ALL of these species in a week at Socorro. Come see for yourself: SOCORRO EXPEDITION 2014
Humpback Whale Diving Socorro

TIGER BEACH, SOUTH AFRICA, SCOTLAND AND BEYOND...

TIGER BEACH
We have another sold out trip to TIGER BEACH in April. We're booking spots in 2015 already so if you can plan that far ahead we look forward to hearing from you!

SOUTH AFRICAN SHARK SAFARI
Then we fly back to Cape Town to dive with more shark species than you can find on any other dive trip that I know of. One spot just came open so please let me know if you want to dive with great white sharks (cage diving), makos, blue sharks, sevengill sharks, spotted gully sharks, pyjama sharks, leopard catsharks, yellowspotted catsharks, brown shysharks, puffadder shysharks and natal shysharks. Then there's penguins, fur seals and a game drive to see elephants, cape buffalo, cheatahs, rhinos and all the other terrestrial animals that Africa is famous for. Don't miss this action packed WEST CAPE SHARK SAFARI

Then we have our very unique SOUTH AFRICAN SARDINE RUN AND WILD COAST SHARK SAFARIand then its time to fly back to Scotland to SWIM WITH BASKING SHARKS.

SALMON SHARKS
In July we're going to Alaska to dive with Salmon Sharks and to snorkel with the salmon as they head upriver. One spot left! SALMON SHARK EXPEDITION
salmon snorkeling

MEXICAN CROCODILES
And then we head back to Isla Mujeres to SWIM WITH WHALE SHARKS. I'll have my drysuit with me in Mexico so that I can zip up to Churchill, Manitoba to lead our new BELUGA WHALE EXPEDITION and then fly straight back to Cancun to lead the MEXICAN CROCODILE EXPEDITION. My good friend Rodrigo Friscione just came back from Chinchorro Banks with some fantastic shots and reports of great crocodile encounters. I can't wait to get down there and run this trip!


TWO KILLER NEW TRIPS ON THE 2014 SCHEDULE!

CALIFORNIA MAKO SHARK SAFARI
Don't get me wrong, New England is a great place to dive with blues and makos but there are lots of other destinations to dive with them too. For a change of pace, next year Big Fish is heading to sunny California where the water is blue and the sharks are plentiful!
As well as free diving with blue and mako sharks we will be scuba diving around some of Southern California's Channel Islands where we can find Pacific angel sharks, horn sharks and a number of other shark species. This is going to be an amazing adventure: four days on a liveaboard chasing sharks in the sharkiest state in the USA. Join us there! CALIFORNIA MAKO SHARK SAFARI.

MEXICAN BULL SHARKS
Each November, many large bull sharks congregate off the beaches of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Many of them are pregnant females that stay in the area until early March and then head into shallow bays to pup before disappearing until the next season. By late November the bulls have reached their maximum strength; sometimes up to 20+ bull sharks on a dive.
This is a thrilling encounter that will impress the most jaded shark diver.  Join us next November in Playa del Carmen; the playground of Mexico: 2014 BULL SHARK EXPEDITION
diving with bull sharks

MEET THE TEAM
A few years ago I ran my first trip to Tiger Beach. It was such a fun trip that I decided to run it again the following year and I added a whale shark trip. Three years later, Big Fish Expeditions has 18 different trips on the schedule and there are more on the way!
Its been an amazing adventure and I will continue to lead most of the expeditions but I'm very happy to announce that Big Fish has some new Expedition Leaders to share the fun with. Meet the team: BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS DIVE TEAM

See you down there,
Andy Murch

AFRICAN SHARKS AND CANADA'S ICONIC WHITE WHALES

AFRICAN SHARKS

& CANADA'S ICONIC WHITE WHALES

SOUTH AFRICA WAS AMAZING!Diving with sevengill sharks
Its been a month since I returned from our first South African Shark Safari and I still can't get that incredible experience out of my head. With the possibility of fourteen species of sharks I knew that it would be a good trip but I had no idea how good. Cape Town is a shark diver's paradise! On one memorable dive we slipped into a beautiful kelp forest amid a handful of broadnose sevengill sharks and then swum amongst five species of catsharks that were hunting on the reef. A couple of shy spotted gully sharks also made a brief appearance making a total of seven species on one dive alone! That would be enough to set the West Cape apart from almost every other dive site in the world but just a few kms away from the reef is Seal Island where you can also dive with hunting great white sharks and still be back in time to watch African penguins waddling along the beach in the afternoon sun.
By the end of that amazing week, I was so impressed by South African shark diving that I immediately booked dates for 2014. Join me in Cape Town next year if you can: 2014 WEST CAPE SHARK SAFARI. After sharing a few pics on Big Fish Expedition's Facebook Page this trip is already almost full so please contact me asap if you'd like to come!


A NEW BIG FISH EXPEDITION: THE SARDINE RUN
With so much world class diving on offer, it would be crazy to go all the way to South Africa for just one adventure. So, next year after the Cape Town Shark Safari, Big Fish Expeditions is staying in South Africa for the world famous Sardine Run. For most people the Sardine Run needs no introduction but for anyone that has been living in a bubble, the Sardine Run occurs each year when cold upwellings force millions of sardines to the surface. The resulting river of bait-fish is so enormous that sharks, dolphins, whales, diving birds and huge schools of tuna congregate off the Wild Coast of South Africa in record numbers to feast on the oil rich fish. The bait-ball action that sometimes occurs at this time is one of the most spectacular oceanic events on the planet. Join me in the thick of it!
Sardine Run birds diving
Dolphins attacking sardines on the Sardine Run
Just on its own,The Sardine Run would be an epic event but to make our expedition even more special, I am combining the Sardine Run with some exploratory chumming dives for endemic catsharks on the inshore reefs of the Wild Coast and with offshore, blue water, baited dives for bronze whaler sharks, oceanic blacktips and any other shark species that show up to feed. Join me on the 2014 SARDINE RUN AND WILD COAST SHARK SAFARI Just one spot left!


ANOTHER NEW BIG FISH EXPEDITION: CANADIAN BELUGA WHALES
I'm very excited to bring you this new trip! Each summer, thousands of Beluga Whales congregate in Hudson Bay to feed, breed and socialize. Join me on a ground breaking expedition to swim with and photograph these iconic white whales in their natural environment. We will spend four mornings swimming among large pods of belugas. These are extremely curious animals so it is likely that they will approach us very closely.
In the afternoons we'll drive into the tundra and look for topside wildlife such as polar bears that forage on berries during the arctic summer. And then on our final day, we will trade in our zodiac for a proper tour of the tundra on the world famous tundra buggy. This is an adventure that you will remember forever! Join me in Churchill, Manitoba for the CANADIAN WHITE WHALE MIGRATION


WHAT ELSE IS BUBBLING...

BASKING SHARKS WITH COLD FEET
Last week we were in Scotland searching for basking sharks. Scotland was ruggedly beautiful but because of a very late spring that brought unseasonably cold weather, the sharks did not arrive as predicted. We saw a couple of sharks breach but there was no opportunity for in-water encounters. It was tough luck but if you go on enough trips this will inevitably happen sooner or later. We had a great group so everyone had a good time anyway and we did get to dive with seals and other Scottish marine life and explore some interesting reefs around Tobermory. Next year we'll be back there to finish what we started!


WHALE SHARK SEASON IS FINALLY HERE!
Next week we begin our whale shark season in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I'm happy to report that the sharks have already arrived in their hundreds so we're expecting some great encounters over the next few weeks. We have just two spots open from August 2-7. So if you want to swim with the world's biggest fish please drop me an email.
While we're in Isla Mujeres, I am hoping to put together a film about this unique aggregation of enormous animals and the problems that they are facing. I'll let you know how that went after this year's trip.


BACK ON THE HUNT FOR RARE SHARKS & ILLUSIVE TORPEDO RAYS FOR ELASMODIVER.COM
Big Fish Expeditions would not exist if it wasn't for the popularity of Elasmodiver.com. The Elasmodiver database remains one of the largest collections of shark and ray images on the internet and is an unbiased source of shark diving information. The images on Elasmodiver are frequently used by conservation groups to help push through regulations and treaties aimed at protecting sharks and rays (aka elasmobranchs) around the world.
After our whale shark trips, I am heading to California to look for a very illusive deepwater shark and to try to add some other elasmos including the Pacific torpedo ray to the Elasmodiver database. If you happen to see any along the southern California coast in August, please drop me a line!
Then at the end of August I'm back in Rhode Island for a sold out Blue/Mako/Dogfish Shark Safari. After the charter I'll be shore diving for a few days around Rhode Island and Massachusetts to hunt for more endemic sharks and rays. Specifically, I'd like to track down an Atlantic torpedo ray so if you're diving up that way and know where they're hanging out this year, please email me with info!

MARLIN MADNESS IN MEXICO
We are planning a quick trip to Argentina to chase illusive sharks in November and then in early December I have an exciting Big Fish Expeditions trip to Baja for a week of chasing striped marlin, whales, mola mola and sharks. When the sardines are running, Baja's west coast is a dynamic place to dive where anything can show up to feed. Join me there for a week of adventure!

Striped Marlin Diving and feeding

2014 ORCA OPENING!
Finally, I have one spot that opened up on my Killer Whale trip to Norway in January. If you want to swim with one of the largest predators in the sea, this is your chance!


See you down there,
Andy Murch


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Saturday, July 13, 2013

CROCS ARE THE NEW SHARKS!


ARE CROCS THE NEW SHARKS?
diving with american crocodiles
It was inevitable that sooner or later I would start running crocodile trips. Collectively, crocs, alligators, caimans and gharials have that same primal allure as sharks, and what they lack in sleekness they make up for in sheer prehistoric gnarliness!
Our first crocodilian trip will be next August to Chinchorro, Quintana Roo, Mexico to encounter American Crocodiles. Chinchorro is part of a marine biosphere. Consequently, it is one of the few places in North America where there is still a relatively abundant population of crocs. Because the islands are 20 miles off shore, there is no river run off so the water in the lagoon where the crocodiles live is clear enough for in-water encounters. And, its not just going to be crocs. The expedition includes a mangrove to find and dive with West Indian manatees and we're even planning a morning chumming for sharks. For more pics, a  great video by Pelagic Life and all the logistical info, follow this link:American Crocodiles of Chinchorro Banks

THREE AWESOME BACK TO BACK TO BACK EXPEDITIONS
Over the last few weeks I have led trips to Socorro Island, Tiger Beach and Cat Island. All three trips were hugely successful. Read on for all the highlights:

SOCORRO AND ROCA PARTIDA EXPEDITION
whitetip reef sharks at Roca Partida.
At Socorro we had manta encounters and more sharks than I have ever seen in the Revillagigedo Archipelago. This year the weather cooperated and we were able to dive Roca Partida. The schools of hammers, ledges filled with photogenic whietip sharks and enormous yellowfin tuna schools swimming around that lonely monolith made this trip extremely special. Read the Socorro 2013 Trip Report for more images and reports from the trip.

ANOTHER AWESOME TIGER BEACH EXPEDITION
Diving with a big tiger shark
Tiger Beach was full of sharks from start to finish with countless lemon sharks and four tigers at once on the most memorable dive. We also had a pod of 20+ spotted and bottlenose dolphins come and play with us for hours and some great opportunities for killer split frame shots at the back of the boat. Follow this link for all the good stuff: Tiger Beach Trip Report.

A RECORD BREAKING OCEANIC WHITETIP EXPEDITION
diving with oceanic whitetip sharks
The oceanic whitetip shark expedition to Cat Island was so sharky that against all I have said about trying to run new trips, I am going back again next year :)
We had somewhere around 15 oceanics on our best dive plus we saw a blue marlin, some mahi mahi, and dusky and silky sharks. Cool pictures and more about the trip here: Oceanic Whitetips 2013 Trip Report


ONWARD TO AFRICA
Next week, Big Fish Expeditions is heading to South Africa. This is my first shark safari in southern Africa and I couldn't be more excited. We have the possibility to see around 14 species of sharks. Some of these I have not photographed before so if all goes well there should be some new species pages added to the shark and ray database on Elasmodiver.com over the next few months.
This is a land based trip so assuming I can find a wifi connection, I'll try to load a new shark onto the Big Fish Facebook Page everyday of the trip. If you want the images to show up in your Facebook Feed, please go here:  BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS ON FACEBOOK  and give us a like!


BASKING SHARKS, WHALE SHARKS THEN BLUES AND MAKOS.
diving with whale sharks and basking sharks
After two weeks in South Africa I'll have just enough time to get home to Canada before heading off again to swim with Basking Sharks in the Inner Hebredes in western Scotland. This is another exciting new trip that should result in some great opportunities for big animal images. I'm hoping for encounters with puffins and gray seals underwater too so expect a full report when I blog again (probably in July) or come with me on the trip! There are two spots left on the basking shark trip if any tropical divers out there think they can handle donning a 7mm in order to swim with the second biggest fish in the world. Go to the basking shark expedition page or email me for details!

After that, we're in Isla Mujeres for an entire month of whale sharks. Only three spots left now so please jump on those quickly if you want to swim with an even bigger fish than a basking shark: whale shark diving adventure

And finishing up our summer season we're heading to Rhode Island to shoot makos and blue sharks before the Gulf Stream moves away from the coast taking the sharks along with it. This will be another experimental trip that includes a day of chumming for dogfish sharks on the inshore wrecks. As always, I'll let everyone know how we do!

ONTO WHATS BUBBLING:

BACK TO THE BEACH!
In October I'm leading yet another great trip to dive with Tiger Sharks at Tiger Beach. Join me on theTiger Beach Shark Safari for more epic tiger shark encounters.
Tiger Shark diving with Andy Murch

STRIPED MARLIN ACTION
And then in December I have a brand new striped marlin expedition to Baja. This is another great billfish encounter that everyone should try before they hang up their fins. Join me this December for a unique Striped Marlin Expedition.
diving with striped marlin

A NEW PREDATORS IN PERIL EXPEDITION IS IN THE WORKS
Then at the end of the year, there's blue whales in Sri LankaOrcas in Norway and Great Hammerheads in Bimini. But, before I run those guest trips, its time to put some of my air miles to good use. In November I'm flying all the way down to Punta Arenas to look for another new catshark species. This one is called a narrowmouth catshark and (like most small deepwater sharks) there are virtually no images of it. So, I'm meeting up with Eduardo Sorensen from Oceana Chile to see if we can find and document one or two while there are still some left. It will be a complicated trip involving us flying tanks and weights all the way to the end of the Americas and then braving the Humboldt Current for as long as time and finances permit.
After the catshark dives in Southern Chile, I'll be traveling with my partner Laura up the coast of Argentina to record as many endemic Argentinean elasmobranches (sharks and rays) as we can find. I'm sure that it will be as exhausting as it is rewarding. More on this expedition as it approaches.

2014
Next year get ready for more new trips as well as some of the classics from years past. Apart from the American crocodile trip to Chinchorro, there are at least two more exciting new big animal trips that I am working on. Please keep an eye on the website for more info but for starters, how would you like to swim through an emerald ocean filled with friendly white whales?

See you down there,
Andy Murch