Archive for the ‘TV Shows’ 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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The ups and downs in the life of a shark photographer   Leave a comment

My apologies; for the last week Elasmodiver has been offline. Really it should be Webserve Canada that is apologizing but given their track record that is unlikely which is why Elasmodiver has moved servers. Re-uploading hundreds of pages and thousands of pictures is a slow process hence the interuption. Everything should be back to normal soon except at Webserve Canada who just lost another client. Was that enough of a negative plug for Webserve Canada? You get the point 🙂

Ok, onto something sharky:

A few days ago I got some bad news. I had been tentatively invited to pilot a submersible for a film shoot at Guadalupe Island for a few weeks but the project ran into a snag and had to be delayed indefinitely. That was a blow. It would have been awesome to spend day after day under water at the best place in the world to see Great White Sharks. Who knows what new behaviors we would have witnessed. At least the shoot is still a future possibility.

Then I got some great news; a shark diving buddy of mine – Nathan Meadows, is joining my project to build a deep water camera system: Project Deep Shark. Specifically, Nathan has offered the use of his machine shop to help with the construction of the housings. I’m very happy to have his help because it will make a huge difference to the construction time. Perhaps more importantly, Nathan is bringing his usual enthusiasm which is contagious and may have an even more profound effect on how quickly the project takes shape. I met Nathan a few years back (shark diving of course) and then I bumped into him again this summer when he joined the Shark Diver Magazine trip that I hosted in eastern Canada. He also wrote an article in the last issue of SDM and I have a feeling that (like the rest of us) he will become more and more fanatical about sharks as the years go by. Nathan’s wife Lindsay is also a big shark fan and with that kind of support you can achieve anything. And once sharks have a grip on you there is no escape.

In other news, it looks like it will be even longer before we will finally head south. The refit of the ship that I am working on in British Columbia has had a number of setbacks. Nothing too serious just time consuming. So, our new ETD from Canada is December 6th. I believe that we will actually make this departure date unless something catastrophic happens between now and then. But it means that we will not be in sunny Baja until late December. Fortunately the mobula ray migration which we want to document, is at its height in January, so we should still have plenty of time to shoot after we get to Cabo. Its getting really cold here now and the nights are drawing in, but hey, maybe we can get some skiing in before we go! There is always a bright side.

Last night I was walking along the shore winding down after a busy day at the boat yard. Some kind of fox (or maybe it was a coyote) was scavenging at the waters edge. It was lit up by the moon and I got a great chance to enjoy it before it finally became too nervous of my attention and trotted off into the bush. It got me thinking about how isolated we are from nature. I can’t remember the last time I saw anything that big foraging so close to the city. With so little contact with the natural world around us its not surprising that it is so hard to generate support for conservation for our local fauna. And if even that is a struggle what chance do sharks have?

Its been a while since I got on my soap box and I’ll spare you the whole story this time but remember the key points and tell as many people as you can:

Sharks are in decline. They are heavily over fished and can’t bread fast enough to bounce back. Even if you don’t like sharks we need them. Because of their low birth rate, sharks are the only animals that can maintain a healthy balance in our oceans. Without them the food chain will collapse with catastrophic consequences.

Spread the word, boycott restaurants that sell shark fin soup, join conservation groups like The Shark Trust and Sea Shepherd, and try to dispel the myth that sharks are mindless killers. Its a tough message to get across to people but its very important to keep trying.

For the sharks,

Andy Murch

Posted November 22, 2008 by Andy Murch in Environment, Nature, Photography, Sharks, TV Shows

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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

The Ultimate Shark Picture Quest   Leave a comment

A few days ago I was talking to the Editor of Shark Diver Magazine (SDM) about a Small Spotted Catshark Article that I wrote. He was planning to call it simply; Cat Shark. I pointed out that if he did that then he couldn’t run another catshark story for some time and considering that there are 138 different species of catsharks that seemed like a bit of a waste.

The conversation drifted into a discussion about the upcoming Shark Divers TV show which has changed considerably since it was first penned. The original idea was to make a show about shark diving and us getting shark pictures and stories for SDM. That is still the primary focus of the show but we have added an additional challenge; we want to film 100 species of sharks. Why? Well, apart from the fact that it probably hasn’t been done before, it’s another excuse to do what we love doing. I will also be able to add a lot of new species to the Elasmodiver Field Guide to Sharks and Rays.

It would be a lot of fun trying to film that many species for TV. In fact, I would be satisfied just trying to get that many shark pictures for the magazine, but after the catshark argument I sat down and started to think through the idea more clinically. Was it a realistic goal or would it become a show about a couple of guys failing to film 100 shark species? I made a mental tally of the sharks I have seen since I started diving. I believe I am just shy of 50 species. Not bad considering that I didn’t become a professional photographer until a couple of years ago but then again, it’s been getting a lot more difficult to find new animals lately.

Getting new shark pictures has become a challenge that is slowly consuming me and the difficulties are not all related to budget or my limited time in the water. Of the almost 500 species of sharks that are out there, a tremendous number are simply beyond the reach of the average diver. I have the advantage of being a part-time submersible pilot but even in that job I have few opportunities to locate deep water sharks. Not surprisingly, when a large metallic submarine cruises over the seabed with lights blazing in all directions, the sharks of the abyss (with their sensitive opalescent eyes) turn tail and flee at lightning speed. I’m not just talking about deep sea lantern sharks and dogfish. Thumbing through my Collins’ Sharks of the World it appears that nearly all of the ornately patterned catsharks that would look so at home on a shallow coral reef, actually inhabit the twilight zone below 100 meters.

Another nightmare that limits my quest for shark pictures is the phrase ‘prefers turbid water and muddy bays’ Turbid water is caused by wave action churning up the sediment or by rivers dumping huge quantities of silt into the sea. Lots of species of sharks live exclusively in these low visibility environments. Their highly tuned senses are more than adequate for them to navigate through this sightless world but shark photography is virtually impossible.

So, unless we intend to catch all these elusive sharks and relocate them to places where they are easier to film (you’d be surprised how many shark pictures are staged) we are in for some frustrating shark trips. Can it be done? I believe so but even if we fall short of our target we have lost nothing and gained one hell of an adventure. I guess I’ve always been on this mission anyway so publicizing it on a TV show merely adds some time constraints to a quest that I was expecting to last a lifetime.

For the Sharks,

Andy Murch

Host of Elasmodiver.com – a web based field guide containing shark and ray information and thousands of pictures of sharks and rays.

Posted October 27, 2006 by Andy Murch in Nature, Photography, Sharks, TV Shows, Uncategorized

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