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.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Life is Short (especially for divers).


Life is Short (especially for divers).
August 19th 2011


Life is short. For divers it seems even shorter because we have more to explore and experience. Therefore, we have less time to dedicate to each amazing place or animal encounter. So, I try to cram as much into every trip as I possibly can.
As an example, I have just returned from a two week adventure along the eastern seaboard of the United States. It started with a two day Big Fish Expeditions Trip to see blue and mako sharks in Rhode Island. Then I nipped up to Massachusetts with Film Maker Joe Romeiro and photographer Tom Burns to track down and swim with some enormous basking sharks. 


After that I snuck in a day of shore diving with some New England skate species and other local critters which gave me one free day for an impromptu trip back out to play with the blues and makos. All this was followed by a hell for leather, thousand mile drive to North Carolina to host Sharkfest.


After a fantastic long weekend with new friends, diving with sandtiger sharks, watching shark films and generally having a good time, I jumped back in my rental car and drove a thousand miles back to Rhode Island in time to join friends at a NOAA lab to shoot some scientific shots of shark embryos.
Finally, exhausted but ecstatic with all those sharky experiences, I boarded a string of flights back to the west coast and spent one day at home on Vancouver Island. Phew....

Far from recovered, I dumped all my hard drives and drove west to Tofino which is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Pinnacle Scuba Adventures had arranged a three day dive trip in Clayoquot Sound and in the scheme of things, sleep came a poor second compared to diving on the rugged west coast of Canada.




I remember the super endurance I felt as a youth, when stopping to rest was for mere mortals. But sadly it turns out that I am human after all and so with blurred vision and nursing a raging throat infection, I then spent four gloriously slow days at home with my girl recuperating.

Which brings me (chronologically speaking) to the plane that I am currently sitting in while writing this blog. I am on a red eye flight to Baja to join 18 likeminded souls that think that racing through the Sea of Cortez in search of fin and pilot whales and chasing humboldt squid is a fine way to spend their vacations.
All the guests appear to appreciate how short life is too, which is why we are planning to dive on all the reefs that we can cram into our trip and try to hit a sea lion colony or two to boot. And for good measure, the liveaboard operator has agreed to let me chum now and then to see if we can bring in a few sharks. Now that is an action packed itinerary!
I will be home in early September. As the water temps decline in the North Pacific, so does the plankton which leads to great visibility. The steller sea lions will have migrated in too and I can't wait to spend some quality time with them. Stellers are so enormous that they remind me of underwater grizzlies. Fortunately they are rather more playful than your average land carnivore so its possible to float along underwater while they contort and pirouette in front of your camera.
By the end of September I'll be back on the road. Bound for Cape Eleuthera to document a deep water shark tagging project. Expect some cool new shark species on Elasmodiver after that trip.

Looking ahead to what's bubbling...
There are only two spots left on the Malpelo Shark Safari in Feb. Its going to be an epic trip filled with lots of different sharks and extraordinary reef life. Top of the bill if we find them will be the illusive smalltooth sandtiger sharks. More on this adventure on the Big Fish Expeditions Site.

We're going back to Tiger Beach in April for my yearly shark photography workshop. This time we'll be dedicating a day to swimming with spotted dolphins. I've always wanted to dive with them but I've never been able to tear myself (or the group) away from the sharks. This time its officially a 'shark and dolphin' trip. The boat is about half full already so jump in if you want to come. Its far more about sharks than shooting, so non shooters will have just as much fun. At Tiger Beach the pool is always open so expect endless shark encounters every day.

Straight after Tiger Beach I'm running another trip to Cat Island to shoot Oceanic Whitetip Sharks (and reef shark species closer to shore). This is the best place in the world to dive with threatened oceanics! Space is very limited.

Then in July I'm organizing a trip to Isla Mujeres on Mexicos beautiful Yucatan Peninsula to dive with the masses of whale sharks that migrate into the area at that time. There are more whale sharks at this location than anywhere else on the planet. Sometimes there are so many that aerial footage makes them look like a cloud of krill milling around on the surface. And the water is warm and blue!
I'll build a page for this trip on Big Fish soon but space will be limited so if you want to ensure a spot on the boat please let me know asap.

I'm sure there will also be more blue and mako trips to Rhode Island but I'll figure those out in the spring.

Even further ahead is Sharkfest 2012. I am chartering the Olympus for next year which holds 24 divers. The Midnight Express (Olympus Dive Center's other ship) is simply getting too small for our yearly festival. I actually tried to charter both boats but I couldn't find a weekend when both were available. Maybe we'll get both for 2013. Imagine that - 40+ shark junkies congregating in one place to shark dive, watch shark films and party. Now that's gonna be fun!
Its a long way off but this year the Sharkfest boat filled up in two weeks so if you want to come and enjoy the fun please drop me a line.

See you out there,
Andy Murch

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