Summer of the Sharks – Notes from the Shark Bus #1   Leave a comment

June 3rd (Day 1)

I’m here. I am aboard the Shark Bus with Eli, Rafa, and Rusty. Rusty seems like a good guy. He’s young and enthusiastic and it looks like he knows his way around a camera.

Getting here was a struggle. I left Victoria yesterday morning and flew to Vancouver. I approached the US immigration officer nervously but foolishly they let me in again. Flew to Denver and hit a snag. Big delays due to weather. Finally arrived in San Antonio at 1am but no matter how long I watched the belt turn my luggage never came through the gate. Left instructions to forward my bags (which contain an entire camera system, my dive gear, and all my clothes) to Houston for pickup later today.

Then grubby and exhausted I jumped a cab to the Greyhound Station downtown and waited for 4.30am to roll around. Slept most of the way to McAllen and then waited for Eli to take me to the office.

Eight hours later I’m arriving in the Shark Bus in Houston, a Corona in hand, a glazed expression on my face, and a viral infection raging through my sinuses and throat. I don’t think anyone realizes quite how sick I am yet and I’m keeping quiet for now. Hopefully I’ll bounce back from this one pretty quickly but tomorrow’s diving might be a bit painful – we’ll see.

 

June 5th (Day 3) 10.00 am

Chummed yesterday but didn’t attract many sharks. We think we had a big Sandbar shark on the bait but he chose take out.

My voice slowly dwindled to a croak by the end of the day and now I’m reduced to writing because I am literally speechless. So much for the Eli and Andy show. I just hope that I can get some good images today to redeem myself. It’s dumb to feel guilty for being sick but I feel as though I’m letting the team down. If I can express myself in images for the next couple of days, I will feel better. I’ve never lost my voice before and I have no idea how long it will last. I’m on about four different medications so let’s hope one of them fixes me up.

Eli was pretty pissed off this morning because it took so long to get away from the dock. I don’t blame him at all. Our future in the industry is resting on the success of this pilot. Eli has borrowed a pretty big pile of money to finance everything including the charter we are presently on which as yet has yielded no results.

Today we’re on our way to Stentson Bank where Silky sharks reputedly gather. By tonight we’ll either be despondent and somber or busy reviewing some new shark footage and images.

We’re staying out overnight which will give us the opportunity to chum continuously for 24 hours. If that doesn’t bring in sharks then we’re too late. It will imply that the numbers are so depleted by long lining that looking for sharks in the Gulf of Mexico is no longer viable.

 

June 6th (Day 4) 11.30 am

Spent yesterday chumming up Silkies. The action wasn’t exactly amazing but by the end of the day I had some respectable Silky Shark images for the mag. Eli wrangled up a cute little two footer and Raf managed to hand cam the action in a way that made it look like a monster. Spent last night sleeping on the couch in the lounge which was the coolest room on the boat. Slept fitfully but woke up feeling ready for some serious shark diving. Testing out my vocal chords it seems that I’m a croaky version of my old self today which is good for me and probably for Eli who has had to do all the talking lately.

At 9 o’clock the Captain told me that he wanted to pull anchor and head in at 11. This was a blow and I wasn’t sure why he was cutting our charter short. He seemed pretty grumpy so maybe he had some grievance with us that I wasn’t aware of. I quickly woke Eli who couldn’t get anywhere with him so we jumped in and swam over to the Oil rig for a last attempt at some filming.

Up current from the rig we found a good sized school of Silkies. They were all around 3 to 5 ft long and wanted nothing to do with us. Repeatedly we kicked out towards them but each time they evaded our efforts to get close enough to film.

Finally I untied one of the chum crates and swam up current from the swirling fish and sharks and shook the hell out of it mimicking a shark tearing at a carcass.

The smaller jacks flocked in and I was soon so surrounded by silver bodies that I could no longer see the oil rig. I was sure that this activity would encourage the sharks to investigate but it was not to be.

Perhaps if the sharks were bigger they may not have felt so threatened by my presence but unfortunately there were no big adults around. I hope they haven’t all fallen victim to long-liners.  

Swimming back to the rig I hung in the current snapping grainy shots of the distant school that I hope will convey the sense of the moment. Then feeling the breathing resistance on my reg I kicked up and floated over to the boat.

The captain, in better spirits now, has offered to drop us on another bank on the way home for an extra dive. We have no chum left but if the seabed is shallow enough we might be able to find something to photograph. Hell, it’s all bonus footage as far as I’m concerned. We have a story, plenty of pictures, and I’ve got my voice back. Life could be way worse.

For the Sharks,

Andy Murch

Andy is staff photographer at Shark Diver Magazine and host of The Elasmodiver Shark Picture Database

Advertisements

Posted June 7, 2006 by Andy Murch in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: