'Wildly Successful' pretty much sums up this year so far. Our 2014 expeditions have been wildly successful! As I mentioned in my last update, we found the Killer Whales we were looking for in Norway, we had two amazing Great Hammerhead weeks in the Bahamas and we swam with hunting Sailfish and False Killer Whales in Mexico. Since then. we've added two more great expeditions to our list of successes. Read on to find out more:
SOCORRO & ROCA PARTIDA
We enjoyed a great week of world class encounters at Socorro Island and Roca Partida aboard the MV Southern Sport.
Not only did we see Giant mantas, Galapagos sharks, scalloped hammerheads, silvertips and whitetips in abundance, this year we had an (out of season) whale shark circling Roca Partida to the delight of everyone on the liveaboard. All the action and some great images can be seen here: Socorro and Roca Partida 2014
INSANE TIGER SHARK ACTION AT TIGER BEACH
This was our best year ever for tiger sharks at that infamous sand bank in the northern Bahamas that has come to be known as Tiger Beach. There were so many sharks that it was impossible to keep track of them all but at one point I counted at least 5 tiger sharks, a handful of nurse sharks, more than a dozen lemon sharks and countless Caribbean reef sharks. If you want to see the images of that crazy adventure, please follow this link: Tiger Beach 2014 Trip Report
PREDATORS IN PERIL BAJA 2014
After Tiger Beach we headed down to California and San Felipe in Northern Baja, Mexico. This was partly a scouting trip for California shark species and partly an opportunity for me to take more shark fishing pictures for the Predators in Peril Project.
While in Long Beach, California, I went out chasing makos with expert shark tagger Keith Poe and Captain Chris Wade who will be our host for our California mako shark trip this September. The water was amazingly clear compared to other places where you can sometimes see makos and we saw at least ten different shortfin mako sharks in a single day. It was great trip and I'm looking forward to coming back for our Big Fish Expeditions California Mako Shark Adventure. Join us in Long Beach this September!
After California we continued into Baja. Mexican shark fishermen head out of sleepy San Felipe to gill nest for a number of different food fish. Unfortunately they inadvertently pull up a number of different sharks that they collectively refer to as Cazon or Tollos. The bycatch generally includes a number of smoothhound shark species plus Pacific sharpnose sharks, mall blacktips, juvenile hammerheads and tope (soupfin) sharks.
Some of these species are heavily fished and are in danger of depletion in parts of their range. Our intention was to find out what species they were catching and at what times of year. There is virtually no accessible catch data available so a field trip was the only way to gather this kind of information.
As I have come to expect, the fishermen were cautious but approachable and I managed to talk my way onto one of the fishing boats to get a broader understanding of their efforts. While I was onboard I saw a number of grey smoothhound sharks come up in the nets. Sadly only one was still swimming and after a quick negotiation with the Captain I returned it to the ocean and took a few images as it swam off into the jade green waters of the northern gulf.
We left San Felipe with the intel and contacts we needed to plan a second trip that will hopefully result in some images of new species and the release of far more sharks.
A BUSY SUMMER AHEAD!
May will be a busy month at Big Fish Expeditions HQ on Vancouver Island because at the beginning of June we launch into an insane summer season of back to back shark trips. Here is the run down if you are looking for a great adventure:
FALSE BAY SHARK SAFARI June 1-8. 1 SPOT AVAILABLEFlying Great Whites, Sevengill Sharks, Catsharks and Blues and Makos!THE SOUTH AFRICAN SARDINE RUN June 8-18 4 SPOTS AVAILABLEBaitball action with Bronze Whalers, Blacktips, dolphins, feeding Brydes Whales and diving birds.SCOTTISH BASKING SHARKS June 22-28 SOLD OUTMigrating basking sharks around the Isle of Mull, Scotland.ALASKAN SALMON SHARKS July 6-12. 1 SPOT LEFT, July 12-18 2 SPOTS LEFT.Salmon Sharks, Bear watching, Salmon dives and exploratory reef diving in pristine Alaska.MEXICAN WHALE SHARKS July 20-25 5 SPOTS AVAILABLE. July 25-30 SOLD OUTThe largest aggregation of Whale Sharks on Planet Earth.CANADIAN BELUGA WHALES August 3-9 2 SPOTS AVAILABLEEncounters with thousands of friendly Beluga Whales in Hudson Bay.MEXICAN CROCODILES August 17-23, 24-30. SOLD OUTSnorkeling with American Crocodile at Chinchorro Banks, Mexico.CALIFORNIA MAKOS AND BLUES August 31 - September 4. 6 SPOTS AVAILABLEMakos, Blue Sharks, Angel Sharks, Horn Sharks and More.
THRESHER SHARKS OF MALAPSCUA
As soon as the exhaustion has worn off from our summer expeditions, it'll be time to head to marvelous Malapascua Island in the Philippines. Monad Shoal (a 10min boat ride from tiny Malapascua) is the best location in the world to dive with thresher sharks.
Around Malapscua you can also find whitespotted bamboo sharks, banded bamboo sharks, coral catsharks and all manner of crazy macro critters like pygmy seahorses, blue ringed octopuses, mating mandarinfish and reefs ablaze with beautiful orange soft corals.
As I write this, we have four spot left on the expedition. Join us there! Thresher Shark Expedition.
LOOKING FAR, FAR AHEAD...
In 2015 we'll be back at many of these great locations, starting with another chance to swim with orcas in Norway, cavort with Melonheaded Whales in French Polynesia and enjoy two back to back Great Hammerhead trips in the Bahamas. All of these are either full or almost full so please email us if you'd like to snag one of the last spots.
There are opportunities to enjoy world class big animal dives with us throughout the year as we now have 20 expeditions on the schedule and more in the planning stages! To see what you can join and when, please visit our schedule page: BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS DIVE SCHEDULE
INTRODUCING THE HUMPBACK WHALES OF THE SILVER BANKS
I am very excited to announce that in March 2016 we'll be spending a week swimming with humpback whales and their playful calves at the world famous Silver Banks in the Dominican Republic.
News of the trip has already got out so if you would like to enjoy a world class adventure in the company of whales, please let us know as soon as possible: Humpback Whale Expedition 2016.
That's it from me. Time to break out my drysuit and enjoy some great Vancouver Island kelp forest diving while the visibility is still spectacular.
See you down there,
Andy Murch is a professional big animal photographer and the founder of BigFishExpeditions.com