DIVING POLAR SEAS AND THE SOUTH AFRICA SHARK SAFARI   Leave a comment

DIVING POLAR SEAS AND THE SOUTH AFRICA SHARK SAFARI

 

HOW THE POLAR SEAS EXPEDITIONS WERE BORN

I am lucky enough to live on Vancouver Island in western Canada. Believe it or not, the island is warm. We get a little snow some years (not this year) but so does Texas. Its a great place to live and play.

The Salish Sea which separates the island from the mainland is considered ‘temperate’ but virtually everyone that dives here picks up a drysuit sooner or later. A wimp like me wouldn’t be caught dead diving wet in our local waters.

A lot of divers that I meet in the tropics tell me that they’d love to see a giant pacific octopus or dive with a tumbling gang of adolescent steller sea lions but they just don’t relish diving in the restrictions of a drysuit.

 

dive with steller sea lions

Adolescent Steller Sea Lions off Vancouver Island

 

I get it. Diving is about freedom as much as it is about seeing the wonders of the ocean. Its about that feeling of underwater flight. No restrictions. No boundries. Traditional inflexible drysuits took away that freedom and left divers feeling clumsy and confined. And then, Whites Manufacturing changed everything by designing the Fusion – a stretchy , form fitting drysuit that feels like you’re diving in a wetsuit. My fusion has made such a profound difference to my cold water diving that I’ve started looking at the world’s ‘non-tropical’ diving destinations very differently.

Recently, I was sitting in Whites office raving like a lunatic about my Fusion and talking about all of the places I’d like to dive in it. Instead of slapping a restraining order on me, Whites Brand  Manager Justin Balaski suggested that Whites and Big Fish Expeditions team up to create a series of Polar Seas Expeditions to the world’s most amazing cold water destinations. Sometimes the focus would be on big animals and sometimes it would be on diving the world’s best cold water wrecks and reefs (wrecks tend to stay better preserved in colder water).

We would promote the trips together. I would lead them and White’s would send me off with some extra Fusions for anyone that wanted to find out how comfortable it is diving in one. I jumped at the idea and started looking for destinations worthy of both companies.

Combining the best of Big Wrecks and Big Animals, our first Polar Seas Expedition will be in July of this year to Newfoundland, Eastern Canada. The Bell Island Wrecks consist of four 400ft long merchant ships that were sunk by U-boats in 1942. Think of Bell Island as Truuk Lagoon with Icebergs!

For the hardcore big animal divers, on the days that we are not diving on Bell Island’s world class wrecks, we will have the opportunity to jump in with friendly humpback whales that cruise up and down the coast of Newfoundland during their summer migration. It’ll be epic. Join me if you can. Click on the pic for more info:

 

SOUTH AFRICA SHARKOHOLICS EXPEDITION

Yep, we’re heading to South Africa to shoot sharks. 14 different species if all goes to plan: great white sharks (breaching and underwater), mako sharks, tiger sharks, Bull Sharks, Dusky Sharks, Ragged Tooth Sharks, Blue Sharks, Blacktip Sharks, Broadnose Sevengill Sharks, Spotted Gully Sharks, Puffadder Cat Sharks, Dark Shy Sharks, Pajama Sharks and Leopard Cat Sharks. That pretty much sums it up except to say that we’ll likely see lots of other stuff too like Cape fur seals, lots of pelagics, African penguins and a whole bunch of land based critters like lions and cheatahs because the trip also includes a big game drive. Click on the Pic for more info:

 

 

 

KICKING OFF THE 2012 EXPEDITION SEASON

The 2012 expedition season is about to kick off at Isla Malpelo which is famous for its wild pelagic shark action. I couldn’t be more excited as (like most divers) I have never seen a smalltooth sandtiger shark and there’s a very good chance we see some there. If we nail the shots there will be one more shark listed on Elasmodiver.com and many new pics of old favorites like schooling hammerheads, silkies and Galapagos sharks.

I’ll post a trip report as soon as we get back to land so keep an eye on this blog page and on Elasmodiver’s Facebook Page for updates.

 

CONSIDER THIS A STANDING REQUEST FROM ELMODIVER: LOOKING FOR HELP FINDING NORTH AMERICAN SHARKS AND RAYS

To keep Elasmodiver growing I need to keep shooting new species. In the big picture I’ve barely made a dent in the total number of sharks out there but you’d be surprised how hard it is to find new species once you have shot the standard elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) that divers regularly see.

Right now I am focusing on finishing up the North American Elasmos. There are three main areas that I need help with: Skates in Alaska, Smoothhound sharks in California and Baja, and some of the more elusive species from the Gulf of Mexico such as finetooth sharks, smalltail sharks, night sharks and Atlantic Angelsharks or ‘sand devils’.

If you know where or how to find any of these critters (whether diving or fishing) please let me know and I may plan an expedition based around that info.

Remember, the rarer they are, the more we need images to make sure the world knows about them. Invisible animals don’t get protected.

 

First live images of a scoophead shark. Shot in Panama in 2011. Only on Elasmodiver!

 

For the oceans,

Andy Murch

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