The 2010 Central American Predators in Peril Expedition is taking shape. This will be the most exciting project that Elasmodiver has ever been involved in. If you thought that the 2009 North American Shark Diving Tour was ambitious, please have a quick look at the itinerary for the 2010 expedition. Its all laid out on the new Predators In Peril page on Elasmodiver.com
To quickly outline the mission: Beginning in early May, we will be traveling through nine countries along the entire length of Central America to photograph new species of sharks. We have arranged to work with local researchers in many locations and we will also be working with artisanal shark fishermen and with a number of Central American dive operators.
We are hoping to photograph at least a dozen new species that have not yet been documented in the wild. The images will be used in an extensive public awareness campaign and then offered to regional conservation groups to promote local conservation initiatives.
We have put in a couple of funding proposals but we still need help with equipment and field expenses. Please take a look at the Predators in Peril Expedition Wish List if you think you may be able to help. And, please spread the word about the expedition through any networks that you are involved with. Media coverage is a very important part of the project.
In other news, I have just returned from Tiger Beach in the Bahamas. It was an unexpected last minute shoot that I almost didn’t go on but I’m glad I did because the sharks were VERY friendly on this visit and the shooting opportunities were outstanding. If you’ve never been to Tiger Beach you’d be forgiven for imagining a palm fringed island surrounded by big striped sharks but TB isn’t actually a beach at all. It’s a sand bank in the middle of nowhere that rises to within about 20ft of the surface. The lemon sharks that patrol the area have become accustomed to the occasional dive boat passing through and the sound of an anchor chain rattling down to the seabed acts like an aquatic dinner bell.
For first time visitors it can be very daunting seeing a score of large lemon sharks circling just below the swim step but lemons tend to be pretty well behaved sharks. Tigers (in my opinion) are a little more unpredictable. The tigers usually show up in ones and twos but you never really know what Tiger Beach will dish out. I’ve heard of divers encountering a dozen tigers on a single dive. I’m sure that would be fun for the adrenalin junkies that go shark diving for kicks but it would make my job a little tricky so I’m glad that we only saw a handful of tigers over the course of the week.
I need an accommodating shark that is bold enough to come in close and pose but doesn’t get out of control and swim off with the bait box. The 4 meter female that adopted us on this trip was almost the perfect shark. ‘Fluffy’ as we called her, was a beautiful animal that moved slowly among us for the better part of two days. Judging by her distended belly she was either digesting a turtle or almost ready to give birth to the next generation of baby tigers.
Between Fluffy and the omnipresent lemon sharks it turned into a great shoot:
MORE IMAGES ON ELASMODIVER
After Tiger Beach I had a week to kill in Florida which would normally have involved lots of snorkeling with stingrays and hunting for little coastal sharks but I’m ashamed to say that I barely got wet even though I was holed up right next the beach in Fort Lauderdale. I spent the week sitting in a darkened hotel room cleaning and sorting all of the images that I have taken this year. It was a mammoth undertaking but I’m finally caught up (almost). Pretty soon there will be a whole lot of new images on Elasmodiver.com – I promise!
Here are some new leopard shark pics to keep everyone happy:
2010 SHARK SHOOT IN THE BAHAMAS
While in Florida I attended DEMA – the yearly North American Dive Industry Bash. I’m glad I went because after 4 days of schmoozing with magazine editors and dive operators I walked away with lots of exciting plans for next year. So many plans in fact that there is no way I can work on them all, but even if I make half of them happen it is going to be an amazing 2010.
One tentative plan I have is a Shark Photography Workshop in the Bahamas. This is a new direction for me. Other professional shooters have done similar workshops but I have been biding my time until I was sure I had something worth offering.
Now I’m ready. We’re looking at a 3 or 4 day shoot, mostly working with Caribbean reef sharks in different environments. Two dives a day plus ‘how to’ workshops, photography critiques (don’t be shy) and daily slide shows.
The idea is that you walk away with some good pics, a better understanding of how to shoot sharks and some great stories about the crazy time you had with a slough of other shark shooters in the Bahamas. Space will be limited so if that sounds like fun let me know! Depending on interest, I’m hoping to set some dates in April before the Predators in Peril Expedition gets underway.
NEW ELASMO T-SHIRTS!
Another spin off from DEMA, I bumped into Tom Sergent who operates the company Amphibious Warrior Scuba Wear which raises money for shark education and conservation activities. Tom is a big supporter of Elasmodiver and he has agreed to produce our new Elasmo T shirts that have been getting rave reviews. His new AWSW website will soon be up and running but for now, if you want to order an Elasmo T, go to Tom’s AWSW fan page on FaceBook:
Amphibious Warrior Scuba Wear on Facebook
The Elasmo T’s are US$22. All proceeds go towards the Predators in Peril Project:
BAIT BALL DIVING IN THE SEA OF CORTEZ
Tomorrow I leave for Cabo san Lucas in Baja to shoot Marlins with Shark Diver Magazine. “MARLINS?” I hear you say. Well, its a trip to shoot marlins attacking bait balls. Don’t tell the editor but I’m only going incase some sharks show up to feed as well. If they do, I’ll just have to wait for those pesky marlins to get out of the way so that I can get the shot.
For the sharks,