I have become a Whale Shark Picture Machine   Leave a comment

There are so many Whale Sharks to photograph near Isla Holbox (north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula) that most of the time I don’t know which way to point my camera. It is day four of an eight day shoot and I already have more good images than I have taken on all of my other Whale Shark trips put together.

I think that in the last three days we have seen around 55 animals but its hard to tell since the panga that is taking us from one encounter to the next may sometimes be guiding us back to Whale Sharks that we have already swum with.

Shooting stills is very challenging in the green plankton rich water but with the amount of sharks in the area it’s possible to just keep on swimming until the perfect opportunity arises, and then it’s down to luck and a little skill with the camera. The luck factor rests with the Whale Sharks. If you swim quickly but quietly into their path they sometimes swim almost directly into you, changing course a meter or two short of a collision. Then it’s down to you to decide whether you want to go for the shot or side peddle as fast as you can. It is unusual for the sharks to plow forward after they notice you. They have keen eyesight as well as a lateral line system that can detect a swimmer’s vibrations long before they materialize out of the soup so they generally veer off, mouth still agape in their endless search for microscopic organisms.

Each morning so far, I have jumped off the boat to shoot my first Whale Shark and not climbed back onboard until all the sharks have submerged which happens around midday when the sun is highest and the plankton begins to sink. I am amazed that other divers on the panga would choose to swim for a while and then lounge on deck when such a unique opportunity is a quick kick away but I guess that is the difference between people who like sharks and people who just can’t get enough shark action and its no secret which catagory I am in.

The underwater footage that we have for this episode of Shark Divers is murky but passable and the screaming and action back on the boat is good enough to entertain. At one point we threw our topside DP in with the sharks just to film his attempts at snorkelling. What we ended up with was a half drowned DP that didnt see any sharks because he was too busy trying to breathe. I guess we pushed him too far because he has decided to sit out the rest of the trip on the beach.

For the Sharks,

Andy Murch

Host of Elasmodiver.com

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