Summer of the Sharks Part 3   Leave a comment

July 1st

 

St Maarten is now a blur of aggressive sharks and late nights. True to form the Caribbean Reef Sharks were ready to rumble as soon as we entered the water. After six dives including one in which Eli donned chain mail to feed the sharks we had all the CRS footage and still shots we could possibly want. The  Blacknose sharks were as elusive as ever but a few close passes allowed me to improve my collection of Blacknose images (see the new Blacknose Shark images added to the Sharkive).

The scheduled chumming in deep water didn’t turn up a single shark. After hours of bouncing around in a small skiff with multiple chum bags sending a healthy slick out to sea, we admitted defeat and returned to Big Momma’s Reef for yet another shark feed (you can never do too many).

Back on shore we were told about a shark attack victim who was willing to relate his ordeal, so we gathered up the cameras and went in search of a story. What we found was no local fisherman nipped on the ankle. The victim was none other than Leroy French who was famously mauled by a white shark while diving at the Farallon Islands in California back in the days when no one knew that this notorious group of islands was a favorite feeding ground of Great White Sharks.

Leroy told us how he was struck multiple times by the 14-16ft shark until Al Giddings was able to reach him and drag him back aboard their boat. After extensive surgery Leroy returned to diving and now runs a dive shop in Simpson Bay on St Maarten – small world!

 

Returning from St Maarten our Summer of the Sharks Adventure was all but over except for a quick dive in the Houston Aquarium’s shark tank. Not such a bad way to end the trip. The staff graciously allowed us free reign of the tank for a couple of hours during which we snapped away feverishly at shark and ray species that we would otherwise not have had the chance to document. I came away with some unique images of Green Sawfish that are almost impossible to photograph in the wild.

After an extensive behind the scenes tour we climbed back on the bus and sat around unsure of what to do next. No more sharks to film, and no more shark fanatics to meet, the road trip was at an end.

 

Three shark infested weeks, sixty five hours of film in the bag, thousands of still images, and enough memories to last a lifetime. Flying home to Vancouver Island I had mixed emotions. My kids were waiting for their Dad but the shark action was hard to let go of or even to put out of my mind. Fortunately the tour will be back on the road very soon. In three weeks we are heading for Holbox Island in Mexico to film the largest known aggregation of Whale Sharks in the world. I guess the adventure never really ends, there are just intermissions between one shark dive and the next.

 

For the Sharks,

Andy Murch

 

Andy Murch is the Staff Photographer at Shark Diver Magazine and the Creator of the Elasmodiver Shark Picture Database  

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