Archive for the ‘Movie Journal’ Category

SWARMS OF WHALE SHARKS + PREDATORS IN PERIL   Leave a comment

Swarms of Whale Sharks and Predators in Peril

Its been an insanely busy summer. There were lots of great moments but the highlight was probably the incredible whale shark aggregations that we encountered near Isla Mujeres in Mexico. As I said in one of my Facebook posts, there were so many whale sharks that I felt sorry for the plankton. To read this year’s trip report and to enjoy a short video from the expedition please follow this link: Whale Shark Trip Report 2012

 

PREDATORS IN PERIL

Big Fish Expeditions has some awesome new trips penciled in for 2013 and 2014 but before I launch into that, I’d like to share some news about the Predators in Peril Project. I recently traveled to Guerrero Negro on the west coast of Baja to document the gill net fishery and in particular the amount of shark and ray bycatch that is caught in the halibut fishery. This trip resulted in some very graphic images that hopefully capture the essence of the problem.

It was a tough expedition for me personally because I was exposed to some tragic scenes but at least I had the opportunity shoot a video about the expedition. The video is called BYCATCH. It has some very disturbing footage but I believe that it is important to show everything that I witnessed in order to shine a light on this issue. You can see more images from the trip and watch the video at PIP’s new home: predatorsinperil.org To jump straight to the video please visit:Predators in Peril Videos

Please, please share BYCATCH on your social networks!

 

Next stop for PIP is Chile. In November I am heading to the wild west coast of South America to try to document the endemic shark population. Some Chilean species such as the speckled smoothhound shark are already listed by the IUCN as near threatened but the shark fishery continues to decrease their numbers further. Hopefully (if I actually get some images) we will be able to generate some interest from Chilean conservation groups that want to help reduce the fishery.

 

 

Ok, onto upcoming Big Fish Expeditions:

 

 

KILLER WHALES!

In 2014 we’re going to Norway to dive with hunting orcas. I knew this trip was going to be popular but I didn’t realize how popular! The same day that I loaded the orca free diving trip onto the Big Fish Expeditions website, it sold out. Consequently, I’m wondering if I should run two trips back to back because I certainly wouldn’t mind an extra week chasing killer whales. So if you are interested in a freezing cold adventure in the middle of winter to northern Norway to chase orcas and night dive on pristine sponge and coral reefs in Norway’s rugged fiords, please let me know as soon as possible and I’ll work on a second boat.

 

But before then, we have a lot of other amazing encounters to enjoy…

SAILFISH BAITBALL DIVING sold out months ago but a couple of guests just informed me that they can’t go so there are two spots open. This is a great opportunity to jump in with huge aggregations of hunting sailfish attacking baitballs. It’ll be intense and exhausting free diving probably in bumpy seas but if you want an adventure don’t miss this! Oh, and if we get any storm days we’ll be heading down to Playa del Carmen to dive with bull sharks!

 

There are also a few spots left on the SOCORRO GIANT MANTA EXPEDITION. This is a world class dive destination 200 nautical miles south of Baja that attracts some of the friendliest and largest mantas in the world, plus lots of sharks and curious pods of wild dolphins. It is an especially good place to find black mantas like the one pictured here:

 

 

Then, by popular request, I am running another TIGER SHARK PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP at world famous Tiger Beach in the Bahamas next October. If you haven’t dove Tiger Beach yet, it is probably the best place in the world to learn the ins and outs of shark photography. Tiger sharks, lemons, reef sharks, nurse sharks (and occasionally other shark species such as great hammers) create the perfect subjects to practice different techniques. Apart from obviously photographing tiger sharks, one of my favorite techniques is shooting over/unders of lemon sharks at sunset from the swim step:

 

There are also just two spots left on my Cat Island Oceanic Whitetip Shark trip. This year was amazing with more oceanic whitetips than anyone expected. Next year is the last chance to join me at Cat Island because I need to make room for some new adventures in 2014 so I hope that you can make it!

 

Then in July its Scottish Basking Sharks time! The first week is full but I have 4 spots left on the second trip. I talked to the captain recently and he told me that this year they had basking sharks everyday of the season except two. That is an amazing success record! Nowhere else has such reliable sightings so I am very excited for next year.

 

And then…. it just keeps getting better but I’ll save some announcements for the next newsletter. If you made it this far, thanks for reading 🙂

 

See you down there,

Andy Murch

Andy Murch

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SHARKFEST, PREDATORS IN PERIL REBORN AND A RHODE ISLAND DEEP ELASMO SHOOT   1 comment


Predators in Peril Expedition Reborn
First the bad news… Our 2010 Central American Predators in Peril Expedition got turned down for funding. I’m not sure why but rather than dwell on the time wasted in drawing up funding proposals, I’m happy to move on and look for creative ways for us to fund the expedition on our own.
Through a combination of revenue sources including Photography Workshops, Sharkfest, a pending photography exhibition and some good old fashioned hard work (at the Winter Olympics) we think we can pull off a modified PIP Central American Expedition that incorporates almost as much as the original plan.
The new plan is to turn the proposed epic road journey into a series of fly in – fly out satellite trips. This ultimately works better because we can work on other projects in between shoots, we will have better opportunities to keep the world updated on our successes and we can avoid the rainy seasons much more easily by heading to the right places at exactly the right times.


Sharkfest!
About a month ago I was looking at places around North America where I could run a cheap fun filled shark diving weekend. Moorhead City in North Carolina was the obvious place because it is easily accessible, warm enough to be popular and full of extremely photogenic sandtiger sharks.
Olympus Dive Center (which is the premiere dive center in the region) was keen to host the trip so we started hashing out the details. Shark diving trips with Olympus are always fun because they can cater to big groups and their store and staging area are set up well for apres dive entertainment.
Rather than just a dive party I wanted to create an event that shark fanatics would really enjoy. The result is Sharkfest – a shark diving weekend and mini film festival just for shark people.
As soon as I mentioned the idea to people they started getting excited. Information about Sharkfest only went online just over a week ago and the first boat is half full already so I think it is going to be very popular. The good thing is that Olympus has two big boats so we could get a record number of sharky people in one place at the same time which is bound to be memorable.
Attracting film makers to submit their short films will probably be the hardest part to organize but we have two films on the way already and screening times will be limited to the evenings. I hope I don’t have to reject submissions – that would be tough. If you’re interested in submitting a short but you’re not sure if your shark footage is up to scratch don’t worry about it. Sharkfest isn’t Sundance or Cannes and you won’t find a more appreciative audience anywhere!
H2O Photo Pros in California has kindly offered to sponsor the festival with prize money and I am having a really special trophy made called an ELASMO for the crowd favorite. More on that when its done and I have a picture to show you.
I hope some of you can make it out for the whole event and come diving. Anyone that can’t get there during the day but wants to show up in the evenings to talk sharks with us is more than welcome. More info here: SHARKFEST


Rhode Island Expedition
Right now we are at Olympic Village in Whistler BC. I am helping with some of the organizational nightmares of this monstrous event. As soon as the Paralympics finish in late March I am flying to Providence to dive with Film Maker Joe Romeiro. Joe has a friend in the commercial fishing world who is keeping an eye out for deep water species of sharks and skates for us. If he finds some while I am there we are going to do a captive release photo shoot. If any of you remember the ‘walking the dog’ blog that I posted during the shark tour this will be the same kind of shoot. We’ll release the deep water species in one of the bays and try to get some i.d. shots before they head for the hills. Its a pretty hokey way to shoot elasmobranchs but its the only way some species will ever be photographed unless I strike it rich and buy my own deep water submersible. I’m still working on that.


Sharks in a Fading Light
I have a local gallery interested in a shark photography exhibition. Dates have yet to be arranged but we’re past the hand shake stage. The exhibition will be in two parts. The first series of images focus on the traditional view of sharks, portraying them as majestic apex predators. The second series of images looks at the change that is starting to take place in the public’s perception and the plight that sharks now collectively face. It contains enough ‘pretty pictures’ to make it appealing but also depicts sharks on long-lines and other unpleasant realities.
I initially wanted to avoid any toothy shots that would paint sharks as aggressive animals but I’ve had a change of heart on this subject lately. Instilling fear into people is obviously detrimental to sharks but painting them as teddy bears is also foolish. Sharks are not monsters but they are formidable creatures. Hopefully my images will convey that sentiment.

For the sharks,
Andy Murch

Summer of the Sharks – The Movie   Leave a comment

Two summers ago I left on a road trip with Eli (the Editor of Shark Diver Magazine), Rafa Flores (rancher, shark diving fan, driver and part time videographer) and Rusty Armstrong (Film Editor, topside Camera wielder and eventually Director). The plan was to document a typical summer season for us on the road chasing sharks. It began with a three week road trip in Rafa’s RV followed by a series of flights that took us to both coasts of the US with side trips to Mexico and the Caribbean. The trip was a great adventure for all of us. Rusty (fresh out of film school) got his first chance to put a full length feature together, Eli got to fulfill his dream of producing the first movie about shark diving and I got to spend almost a whole summer photographing sharks.

Rusty documented almost every aspect of our lives as the story unfolded and originally it looked as though the footage was destined to become a TV series. In fact the first few episodes of ‘Chasing Sharks’ actually made it into the can but for a bunch of reasons the show finally morphed into a full length movie.

I got my hands on a copy a few weeks ago and chose to watch it while Eli was showing it for the first time on the big screen in Texas to a few hundred friends and acquaintances. I was nervous because it was the first time that any of us except Rusty had been involved in the movie industry and I was expecting to wince at the quality of the footage. I was thrilled with the result. It was obviously shot on a budget but the footage was awesome and more importantly it summed up the whole shark diving lifestyle that we have immersed ourselves in.

I guess it is hard to be unbiased about a movie that I am so much a part of but I think it is a landmark movie in the diving world. A little rough around the edges but it stands as the quintessential movie about shark divers. It has plenty of action, a strong conservation message and… its funny!

Eli and Rusty have submitted it to many upcoming film festivals. Hopefully it will be well received and stand up to the scathing cynicism of the professional critics.

Ultimately the movie is destined for DVD release sometime in 2009 so I hope that many of you will pick up a copy. If you’re crazy enough about sharks to be reading this shark blog then you’ll probably enjoy it.

For press releases and further info about ‘Summer of the Sharks’ follow this link: http://summerofthesharks.com

Today I loaded some more images of Porbeagles onto Elasmodiver. Some of the images are of a dead and bloody carcass of a Porbeagle Shark. They are quite gory and I am expecting some negative feedback. The dead shark was presented to the researchers that I was working with by a fisherman that found it wrapped up in a line. The images while provocative show the stark reality of life in the ocean especially when sharks come in contact with humanity.

There are still plenty of images that need to be cleaned up and loaded onto the site but I have been very low on time lately with the refit of the ship that I am working on. Next month we sail for Baja and then I will hopefully have a little more time to dedicate to shark photography. There are many species of sharks and rays in Baja that I have yet to shoot so I am looking forward to a very sharky year or two.

For the sharks,

Andy Murch

Summer of the Sharks / Submersibles   Leave a comment

My relaxing summer on Vancouver Island lasted just over a week. I fly to Italy tomorrow to pilot a submersible for two weeks for a prominant VIP. It will be great to get back in a submersible again.

After that I get one day back in BC and then I’m off to eastern Canada to run a couple of Shark Diver Magazine trips. Eli (Editor of SDM) was supposed to lead the trips but he was asked to co-host a shark show on Animal Planet and fame got the better of him. So, I get to go chase Greenland Sharks again and then continue to the Bay of Fundy to join one of the world’s great underwater shooters in search of Porbeagle Sharks. It will be a great adventure. Incidentally, if anyone wants to come dive with me on either trip there is still room. Send me an email if you’re interested.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time you will probably remember the TV series that we were shooting way back in 2006. Well, after many changes it has finally morphed into a shark diving documentary that will hit the film festival circuit this summer. You can view a trailer for the show here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8aZw0n-KcY

After the Greenland Sharks and Porbeagles I am heading back to BC for some down time but Seamagine Hydrospace is already talking about sending me back to Europe to pilot again so we’ll see. Then at the end of August I get a week with my boys in Ontario and then fly on to West Palm Beach to jump on a boat to the Bahamas. I’ll be diving with Eli, Paul Speilvogel, and a bunch of shark nuts that want to go look for Oceanic Whitetip Sharks. It should be an awesome trip.

While all this is happening my girlfriend Claire will be in Vancouver supervising the refit of a large motor yacht that is owned by a good friend of ours. Once that is done we will take it down to San Diego and wait for hurricane season to finish in Baja. Then on to Cabo where we will moor the boat and look after it for the owner.

Of course while we are there we will be taking advantage of all the shark and ray action around the Sea of Cortez. I have a friend who has promised to put me in the water with Mexican Bullhead Sharks and possibly Pacific Sharpnose Sharks – new shark pictures for Elasmodiver.com!

Life is looking pretty exciting right now.

For the sharks

Andy Murch

Another Year in Shark Photography   Leave a comment

Where did last year go? It’s a common thought in many people’s minds. Fortunately, I remember exactly where 2006 went. I spent a great deal of time chasing sharks around North America. Between shooting a TV show with Eli from Shark Diver Magazine, hunting down sharks to illustrate new articles, and expanding this never ending shark website, I barely had time to think. Before I knew it I was looking for Xmas presents for my boys and planning 2007.

It looks like this year is going to be just as exciting and just as manic. I have so many ideas that I couldn’t possibly achieve all of them in a mere 365 days. My first trip is just one week away and I am nowhere near ready. That’s a sure sign that life is moving fast because if you haven’t already noticed by browsing through Elasmodiver, I like to be very organized.

Initially I am heading down to Texas to check in at Shark Diver Mag HQ. Eli and our good friend Paul Spielvogel have organized a boat to go out into the Gulf of Mexico for 5 days. There are many sharks on our hit list including silkies, blacktips, sharpnose, scalloped hammerheads, and what I call ‘exotics’ i.e. sharks that we know live in the gulf but we do not expect to encounter because they are generally too deep, too shy, or too rare to make an appearance. We are expecting rough seas this time of year and life in our little shark boat will not be glamorous. If all goes well I will be able to upload some new shark pictures onto Elasmodiver before I leave Texas on the 22nd.

Next stop El Salvador. The last time that I was there I was dragged off a bus and held at gun point for two hours. That was in 1989 when the country was entrenched in a bloody civil war. Times have changed and I am looking forward to a warmer welcome this time. My plan is to document the El Salvadorian shark fishery and to find out what they are catching. El Salvador is a hazy spot on most researcher’s maps so the inshore sharks that live there may be quite interesting. Being a camera toting gringo in a remote village full of nervous shark fishermen is asking for trouble but I have some contacts that should be able to make some introductions for me. Its been a while since I walked on the wild side and I am filled with a trepidation that I have not enjoyed for many years.

Stage three involves flying home and driving straight down to California. It’s not written in stone yet but with luck I’ll be hunting for Angel Sharks north of LA and kicking back with many old and new shark diving friends until I get the shot. Then it gets fuzzy; San Diego? Baja? We’ll see.

Amazingly, that’s just trip #1! Later in the year I am looking at Brazil, Mexico, back to Cali, and possibly Fiji and Australia. I have also just nailed down a summer expedition to the west coast of Vancouver Island with Ogden Point Dive Centre to search for the northern population of Blue Sharks – possibly the only decent sized gathering of blues left in the eastern Pacific.

Other plans include developing a shark photography course, becoming an Inspiration Rebreather Instructor, and expanding Elasmodiver to include an ambitious section on extinct sharks including a database of shark fossil pictures that I will slowly expand as I get permission to shoot at various natural history museums around North America.

If I work at this speed, between sharks and my kids, 2007 will be over in a flash, but life is so short that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

For the Sharks,

Andy Murch

Posted January 6, 2007 by Andy Murch in Movie Journal, Nature, Photography, Sharks, Uncategorized

California Shark Safari – Going Hunting!   Leave a comment

After the frustrations of Sixgill Shark hunting in BC for the last month, its finally time for me to head back out with Shark Diver to get some new shark pictures for the next issue of the mag. We have a really exciting itinerary that will take us along the Southern California coast in search of some of the coolest sharks you can find in the Americas.

Drive and dives are always fun but road trips through California are packed with opportunities. We are planning to hop between Catalina Island, LA County, San Diego and Guadalupe Island. If you know your sharks then you’re already reeling off the potential subjects: Horn sharks, Leopards, Soupfins, Smoothhounds, Swell Sharks, Angels, Makos, and finally Great White Sharks at Guadalupe – what an awesome agenda! Of course, we’ll be filming everything we can as part of the Shark Divers TV show so even if you’re not coming along you’ll be able to catch all the action (eventually).

This trip is an extra special one for me because although I have dove with around 50 species of sharks it has been a standing joke between Eli (Editor of SDM) and I that I have never seen a Great White Shark. In the past whenever a trip was planned I was always busy shooting somewhere else but finally it has all come together and we’re going after Mr. Big, Jaws, White Death, The Man in the Grey Suit, The caretaker, or whatever else you want to call him. Its gonna be very cool to come face to face with the most notorious face in nature for the first time. Crystal clear water, lots of white sharks, a warm drysuit, a giant memory card, and three days to film – heaven.

Hopefully my next post will include links to some great new shark pictures but first I need to change the oil in the Sharkmobile and follow the sun from Canada to Cali. I’ll be hugging the coast all the way down so if the ocean beckons before I hit LA I’ll simply pull over, dive in with my camera, and go look for sharks. Time to go pack…

 

For the sharks,

Andy Murch

Andy Murch is the host of Elasmodiver.com a Shark Picture and Shark Information Database and Staff Photographer at Shark Diver Magazine

 

Posted September 2, 2006 by Andy Murch in Movie Journal, Nature, Photography, Sharks

Shark Divers TV Series Trailers   Leave a comment

The second trailer for the Shark Divers TV Show has just been loaded onto the web. It isn’t what your average documentary watcher is expecting to see and hopefully that’s a good thing. The last thing that the 21st century viewing public needs is another slow paced shark documentary showing the exact schematics of a shark’s biting mechanism, or a show about how important it is to tag white sharks in the hope that we’ll find out where they’re going, what route they are taking, and their internal temperature while they swim there (yawn).

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that this information is valuable. In fact I believe that it is critical if we want to save the increasing number of shark species that are being exploited. If we enter the arena armed with irrefutable information and statistics in support of conservation measures then we stand a much better chance of persuading governments to ban or limit shark fishing.

The problem is that scientific stats only appeal to a small group of TV watchers. What if we could get a much bigger chunk of TV viewers to watch a shark show and what if the characters on the show were funny enough to entertain people and crazy enough to make people want to tune in next week. Shark Divers hopes to do just that and at the same time sneak in a critical conservation message in a way that doesn’t make people’s eyes glaze over. Its a unique formula that wont appeal to everyone but hopefully it will be a refreshing change of pace for lots of jaded viewers and if they start to relate to the characters on the show then inevitably some of them will begin to voice the same opinions and little by little the chorus of voices chanting ‘save the sharks’ will grow louder.

I take pictures of sharks. Some of the species in my shark pictures are rare or at least rarely photographed but from experience that doesn’t turn people on. They want in your face action and the shark pictures that generate the most interest depict divers interacting with the sharks. Relating that to the Shark Divers TV Series I think a lot of people are going to eat this show up.

So check out the trailers at this link: Shark Divers Trailer and if you have any comments let me know – after all, getting people talking about sharks is what its all about.

 

For the sharks,

Andy Murch

 

Andy Murch is the host of Elasmodiver.com a Shark Picture and Shark Information Database and Staff Photographer at Shark Diver Magazine

Posted August 17, 2006 by Andy Murch in Environment, Movie, Movie Journal, movies, Nature, Sharks, TV Shows