Shark Season   Leave a comment

For most of the year I have to travel a long way from home to photograph sharks but for a brief spell during the summer my local Vancouver Island waters fill with sharks large and small. Having just returned from filming 100+ Whale Sharks near Holbox Island, Mexico I am in no great hurry to dust off my drysuit and plunge into the uncomfortably cool waters of the Pacific North West but July has ended which means that Sixgill Shark Season is approaching fast. The first Sixgill has already been spotted by a commercial diver in 170ft of water so I know they’re out there and that’s all the incentive I need.

Sixgill Sharks are large elusive animals that spend most of their time down at unreachable depths. During the northern summer for reasons that are probably related to the pursuit of food they choose to enter the relatively shallow bays of Vancouver and Puget Sound where they occasionally bump into scuba divers. Trying to find and photograph these sharks is no easy task but like most successful underwater photography it comes down to preparedness and time spent in the water.

It took me an entire summer of floating around in deep water to get some images of my first Bluntnose Sixgill Shark. The next place I went searching for them I found one on the first dive but that was the only time they were seen there all summer. Fortunately, while the Sixgill Sharks are deciding whether to make an appearance I can get my shark fix by photographing Spiny Dogfish Sharks which migrate north in large numbers and make much more dependable subjects.

In late August the dogfish will be moving south and my search will take on a new twist. At the end of the summer divers start to see occasional Big Skates feeding on crabs and mollusks off the beaches around Vancouver Island. Doing long solo search patterns in the mud far from shore is a bit unnerving at times but for the chance of getting some decent Big Skate pictures it’s worth the time and the spooky drift diving in featureless terrain.

The pursuit of skates should keep me busy until mid September which is when I have to be in California to attend a Great White Shark trip with Shark Diver magazine so life could be way worse.

The Sixgills are out there somewhere and with my rebreather I have a very good chance of finding one so I’m heading out right now to take a look.

For the sharks,

Andy Murch.

Shark Diver magazine Photographer and host of Elasmodiver.com -The internets most comprehensive resource for Shark and Ray Pictures and information

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Posted August 5, 2006 by Andy Murch in Environment, Nature, Photography, Sharks

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