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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

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Summer of the Sharks   Leave a comment

2001 was the year when starvation gave way to feeding frenzy. The media (who were starved for a headline) began feeding on the plight of shark attack victims. What statistically was turning out to be a normal year for shark attacks along the Florida coast was hyped out of proportion to feed the sensationalizing news hounds. This led to a shift in public opinion which ultimately resulted in a complete (and pointless) ban on shark feeding in Florida State waters. Following is a press release of the movie that we are working on that will hopefully capture the publics interest and shed a different light on Americas coastal sharks:

Five years after what the media dubbed ‘the summer of the sharks’, a film crew from Shark Diver Magazine are hitting the road to create their own ‘Summer of the Sharks’ a movie/documentary in which the team (led by editor Eli Martinez) plans to hunt for sharks all along the eastern seaboard.
The road trip begins in Galveston, Texas where silky, hammerhead, and blacktip sharks are frequently reported by fishermen. Using bait to bring the sharks up to the boat Andy Murch (SDM Photographer and host of Elasmodiver) will attempt to get close up images of the sharks while Eli and Rafa Flores (underwater Director of Photography) capture the action on film.
The 2nd stop on the tour is the treacherous waters of North Carolina where deep offshore wrecks are inhabited by ferocious looking Sandtiger sharks. The team hopes to capture some extremely close up images by using rebreathers that don’t allow bubbles to spook the sharks. “It’s funny” says Andy “that people are absolutely petrified of sharks but most of the time the sharks are so timid that merely blowing bubbles is enough to scare them away”.
Taking the ‘Shark Bus’ down to Louisiana the team then plans to chum for aggressive makos before flying out to St Maarten in an effort to find and photograph the rarely seen blacknose shark.
Andy’s take on Summer of the Sharks: “The movie isn’t about sharks, its about the dream we have to share the sea with these incredible creatures. Call it an obsession if you like but its what we do, and this is a chance for people to see into our world. The camera will always be rolling so the fear and adrenalin will be pretty obvious”.
Summer of the Sharks will introduce the new TV series Shark Divers, in which the team will head to a different location each week looking for close up encounters with the world’s deadliest and most elusive predators.

For further information contact;
Shark Diver Magazine
956-782-7969
SharkDiverMag.com

For the sharks,

Andy Murch
Andy is the Staff Photographer at Shark Diver Magazine and the host of Elasmodiver.com which is one of the largest sources of information about sharks and rays on the internet.