Archive for July 2013

CROCS ARE THE NEW SHARKS   Leave a comment

ARE CROCS THE NEW SHARKS?

diving with american crocodiles

It was inevitable that sooner or later I would start running crocodile trips. Collectively, crocs, alligators, caimans and gharials have that same primal allure as sharks, and what they lack in sleekness they make up for in sheer prehistoric gnarliness!

Our first crocodilian trip will be next August to Chinchorro, Quintana Roo, Mexico to encounter American Crocodiles. Chinchorro is part of a marine biosphere. Consequently, it is one of the few places in North America where there is still a relatively abundant population of crocs. Because the islands are 20 miles off shore, there is no river run off so the water in the lagoon where the crocodiles live is clear enough for in-water encounters. And, its not just going to be crocs. The expedition includes a mangrove to find and dive with West Indian manatees and we’re even planning a morning chumming for sharks. For more pics, a  great video by Pelagic Life and all the logistical info, follow this link:American Crocodiles of Chinchorro Banks

 

THREE AWESOME BACK TO BACK TO BACK EXPEDITIONS

Over the last few weeks I have led trips to Socorro Island, Tiger Beach and Cat Island. All three trips were hugely successful. Read on for all the highlights:

 

SOCORRO AND ROCA PARTIDA EXPEDITION

whitetip reef sharks at Roca Partida.

At Socorro we had manta encounters and more sharks than I have ever seen in the Revillagigedo Archipelago. This year the weather cooperated and we were able to dive Roca Partida. The schools of hammers, ledges filled with photogenic whietip sharks and enormous yellowfin tuna schools swimming around that lonely monolith made this trip extremely special. Read the Socorro 2013 Trip Report for more images and reports from the trip.

 

ANOTHER AWESOME TIGER BEACH EXPEDITION

Diving with a big tiger shark

Tiger Beach was full of sharks from start to finish with countless lemon sharks and four tigers at once on the most memorable dive. We also had a pod of 20+ spotted and bottlenose dolphins come and play with us for hours and some great opportunities for killer split frame shots at the back of the boat. Follow this link for all the good stuff: Tiger Beach Trip Report.

 

A RECORD BREAKING OCEANIC WHITETIP EXPEDITION

diving with oceanic whitetip sharks

The oceanic whitetip shark expedition to Cat Island was so sharky that against all I have said about trying to run new trips, I am going back again next year 🙂

We had somewhere around 15 oceanics on our best dive plus we saw a blue marlin, some mahi mahi, and dusky and silky sharks. Cool pictures and more about the trip here: Oceanic Whitetips 2013 Trip Report

 

 

ONWARD TO AFRICA

Next week, Big Fish Expeditions is heading to South Africa. This is my first shark safari in southern Africa and I couldn’t be more excited. We have the possibility to see around 14 species of sharks. Some of these I have not photographed before so if all goes well there should be some new species pages added to the shark and ray database on Elasmodiver.com over the next few months.

This is a land based trip so assuming I can find a wifi connection, I’ll try to load a new shark onto the Big Fish Facebook Page everyday of the trip. If you want the images to show up in your Facebook Feed, please go here:  BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS ON FACEBOOK  and give us a like!

 

 

BASKING SHARKS, WHALE SHARKS THEN BLUES AND MAKOS.

diving with whale sharks and basking sharks

After two weeks in South Africa I’ll have just enough time to get home to Canada before heading off again to swim with Basking Sharks in the Inner Hebredes in western Scotland. This is another exciting new trip that should result in some great opportunities for big animal images. I’m hoping for encounters with puffins and gray seals underwater too so expect a full report when I blog again (probably in July) or come with me on the trip! There are two spots left on the basking shark trip if any tropical divers out there think they can handle donning a 7mm in order to swim with the second biggest fish in the world. Go to the basking shark expedition page or email me for details!

 

After that, we’re in Isla Mujeres for an entire month of whale sharks. Only three spots left now so please jump on those quickly if you want to swim with an even bigger fish than a basking shark: whale shark diving adventure

 

And finishing up our summer season we’re heading to Rhode Island to shoot makos and blue sharks before the Gulf Stream moves away from the coast taking the sharks along with it. This will be another experimental trip that includes a day of chumming for dogfish sharks on the inshore wrecks. As always, I’ll let everyone know how we do!

 

ONTO WHATS BUBBLING:

 

BACK TO THE BEACH!

In October I’m leading yet another great trip to dive with Tiger Sharks at Tiger Beach. Join me on theTiger Beach Shark Safari for more epic tiger shark encounters.

Tiger Shark diving with Andy Murch

 

STRIPED MARLIN ACTION
And then in December I have a brand new striped marlin expedition to Baja. This is another great billfish encounter that everyone should try before they hang up their fins. Join me this December for a unique Striped Marlin Expedition.

diving with striped marlin

 

A NEW PREDATORS IN PERIL EXPEDITION IS IN THE WORKS

Then at the end of the year, there’s blue whales in Sri LankaOrcas in Norway and Great Hammerheads in Bimini. But, before I run those guest trips, its time to put some of my air miles to good use. In November I’m flying all the way down to Punta Arenas to look for another new catshark species. This one is called a narrowmouth catshark and (like most small deepwater sharks) there are virtually no images of it. So, I’m meeting up with Eduardo Sorensen from Oceana Chile to see if we can find and document one or two while there are still some left. It will be a complicated trip involving us flying tanks and weights all the way to the end of the Americas and then braving the Humboldt Current for as long as time and finances permit.

After the catshark dives in Southern Chile, I’ll be traveling with my partner Laura up the coast of Argentina to record as many endemic Argentinean elasmobranches (sharks and rays) as we can find. I’m sure that it will be as exhausting as it is rewarding. More on this expedition as it approaches.

 

2014

Next year get ready for more new trips as well as some of the classics from years past. Apart from the American crocodile trip to Chinchorro, there are at least two more exciting new big animal trips that I am working on. Please keep an eye on the website for more info but for starters, how would you like to swim through an emerald ocean filled with friendly white whales?

 

See you down there,

Andy Murch

 

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SWORDS AND HAMMERS   Leave a comment

SWORDS AND HAMMERS

Our January Sailfish Adventure to Cancun, Mexico delivered some epic encounters. Here is a fun little video with some of the action:

Check out the rest of the sailfish trip report and images here: Sailfish Adventure 2013.

 

 

BASKING SHARKS

Next stop is Socorro for some quality time with giant mantas and then Tiger Beach, Cat Island for Oceanic Whitetips and down to South Africa. All sold out trips which is a great endorsement for Big Fish Expeditions!

Still a couple of spots left on the Basking Shark Adventure in Scotland. No doubt the water temps have scared a few shark divers away from this encounter but this will be an amazing trip with basking sharks, grey seals, puffins and who knows what else, so if you want to dive with the second biggest fish in the sea, get in touch! Here are some pics from last season:

 

 

The July Whale Shark Expeditions are all sold out so I’ve decided to add an early August trip for anyone else that wants to go. The Isla Mujeres summer aggregation is the largest recorded whale shark gathering in the world. Personally, I am more than happy to have to stay in sunny Isla Mujeres for one extra week of whale shark diving! 🙂 Whale Shark Diving

 

RHODE ISLAND MAKO & BLUE SHARK WEEKEND

Then in late August we have two back-to-back Mako and Blue shark weekends with Joe Romeiro up in Rhode Island. The first weekend is sold out but I have some room on the second weekend. Between trips I’ll be staying in the area and shore diving for torpedo rays and new skate species so anyone that is coming on the trips is welcome to join me on that off the beaten path quest if they have extra time.

 

 

 

STRIPED MARLIN EXPEDITION

After Rhode Island I have a second Tiger Beach Adventure in October and then…….(drum roll)…. Big Fish Expeditions is heading to Baja to chase Striped Marlin. This will be a similar trip to the sailfish encounter but with larger and stripier billfish. Pacific marlin/baitball diving is a little more hit and miss than diving with sailfish so as well as chasing marlins we have a great back-up plan. Check out theStriped Marlin Diving Expedition page for more info.

 

 

GREAT HAMMERHEAD ADVENTURE

And last but far from least on the new trip front, in February 2014 we’re heading to Bimini for 5 days of diving with Great Hammerheads. I planned to run a hammer trip this year but there were certain logistical issues and ethical concerns that I wanted to deal with to make this trip the best it could be. Everything has come together nicely for next year and I’m glad I waited because this is going to be agreat hammerhead trip as well as a great deal! Bimini Great Hammerhead Diving

 

MARINE LIFE PICS .COM

In other news, a few weeks back I was on a magazine assignment in the Ryukyu Archipelago in southwestern Japan. It was an interesting trip with scalloped hammers, unusual sea snakes and lots of fish that I’ve never seen before. The highlight for me were these hummingbird bobtail squid. Bare in mind that these little guys are about the size of a pea 🙂

 

 

These images and around 10,000 more of my marine life pics can now be found on a new website that I just loaded onto the world wide web. Feel free to check out the new site and give me feedback:MARINELIFEPICS.COM

There’s a corresponding Marine Life Pics Facebook Page that you can ‘like’ if you want to know what has been added to the website each week.

 

One more thing, lots of people have asked me for more info about the 2015 Antarctic Trip but I haven’t had time to load a page yet. I’ll get on it soon! That’s it for now.

See you down there,

 

Andy Murch

NOTHING BUT SHARKS ALL YEAR LONG   Leave a comment

NOTHING BUT SHARKS ALL YEAR LONG

Its been an amazing year; from enormous whale shark aggregations in Isla Mujeres to epic giant manta encounters in Isla Socorro. Then, after all the guest trips were over, I snuck in an Elasmodiver Expedition to Central Chile to photograph even more sharks 🙂 
Chile may not be a shark diving mecca but I was after a rarely photographed little catshark that lives in Central Chile’s shallow bays and wraps its eggs around stunted kelp trees. I’m happy to say that it was a successful trip. Follow this link for more Redspotted Catshark Info.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013
Next year is shaping up to be the biggest year so far for shark trips. Unofficially, the shark season kicks off at Socorro Island during our Manta Trip. I expect that we’ll bump into at least 3 species of sharks at Socorro but the first dedicated shark expedition will be at Tiger Beach in April. Shark magnet and award winning film maker Joe Romeiro will be joining me on the boat; adding some extra magic to the shark encounters. We’ll be visiting all the best spots like Tiger Beach, Fish Tales and other sharky reefs and probably exploring some new ones. Grab the last spot if you’d like to join us: Tiger Beach Expedition or join our second Tiger Beach trip next October.

OCEANICS
After one day back in Florida, BFE’s final oceanic whitetip expedition starts in Cat Island, Bahamas.This year’s oceanic expedition was outstanding with more oceanics than anyone expected plus some silky sharks mixed in just for fun. We also pioneered some unique split frame photo ops with the resident nurse sharks right in the marina.
With so many new adventures on the books, this will be our last chance to dive Cat Island for a while (sad but true) so join me if you can: Oceanic Odyssey

SOUTH AFRICA
Then, Big Fish Expeditions heads to South Africa for a sold out Shark Safari of epic proportions. 14 species in 11 days. Now that’s an expedition!

BASKING SHARKS
Two weeks later, we will be in bonnie Scotland chasing basking sharks. We have an amazing week planned in the Inner Hebredes swimming with giant sharks and diving with grey seals. Incidentally, if you’ve already signed up for this one, I’m staying for an extra day at the end of the trip to visit a puffin colony. Contact me if you want to tag along: Basking Shark Expedition

 

Here is a beautiful video shot by Simon Spear in the area that we’re heading to:


WHALE SHARKS
I’d like to stay longer in Scotland and shoot some little British catsharks but the Whale Sharks will be congregating in Mexico. Next year’s Isla Mujeres whale shark boats are almost full. If you want to swim next to the biggest fishes in the sea, this is your chance. Don a mask and fins and jump into an encounter that you’ll never forget: Whale Shark Encounter.
 

RHODE ISLAND BLUES, MAKOS AND SPINIES
Then in August, a well established shark encounter with an interesting new twist! Big Fish is running a mako and blue shark trip with Joe Romeiro in Rhode Island. That alone would be a great adventure but on our third and final day we’re planning to tie up to one of New England’s fish filled wrecks and lay down a chum slick for smoothhounds and spiny dogfish sharks. Spear-fishermen regularly complain about being harassed by dogfish on their wreck dives so imagine what will happen when we bring a little shark attractant of our own 🙂 Join the trip and find out what happens: Rhode Island Shark Safari

THRESHER SHARKS
And finally, next December I’m putting together a thresher shark trip. I’ve wanted to photograph threshers for a very long time but I’ve been put off by the no-flash photography rules and dwindling encounters at Malapascua in the Philippines.
Fortunately, there is a new hotspot for thresher sharks. After fairly consistent reports of sightings at ‘Brothers Reef’ in the Red Sea I have decided that it is worth an exploratory liveaboard trip. I don’t have a page on BigFishExpeditions.com for this trip yet but I can tell you that we’ll be heading there next December and its a surprisingly affordable place to dive. Email me if you’d like more info: info@bigfishexpeditions.com

2014 WHALES
In Jan 2014 I have an already sold out Blue Whale Expedition to Sri Lanka. If that sounds like a dream trip, well… it probably will be. If you’d like to be put on the waiting list please let me know.

And, I have one cancellation on the Jan 2014 Killer Whale trip to Norway. Let me know if you’re coming!

2015….
I know its a long way off but this is a big ticket trip. Join me in February 2015 for leopard seals in Antarctica!

Don’t let your gills dry out over Christmas!

See you down there,
Andy Murch