Archive for the ‘malpelo’ Tag

New Sharks, New Ideas and a Fin Free Canada   Leave a comment

New Sharks, New Ideas and a Fin Free Canada


Big Fish Expeditions



Most companies that run expeditions, find their niche. Its easier to run trips if you go to the same places each year. Thats not why I started Big Fish Expeditions. As I’ve said many times before: life is short, especially for divers! So rather than taking the easy route (even if its to amazing locations) I’m planning to look for new adventures with new animals every season. The only exception will be Tiger Beach. Its the perfect place to run shark photography workshops and after eight years I still feel that I have lots more to shoot there.

So, for anyone that has been thinking of joining me on one of the adventures listed on , be warned! Most of those trips are now a one time opportunity.

In 2013 there will be a brand new selection. Some will be well known destinations like the South African Sharkoholic Tour that I have planned, and some will be so ‘off the beaten path’ that you may not even recognize the name of the destination.

I can’t spill the beans on too many trips yet but in 2013 you can expect expeditions in and around Southern Africa, South America, French Polynesia and the arctic. As the trips take shape, I’ll be blogging about each one between now and 2013 So bookmark this page!



If we’re friends on Facebook: then you’ve probably already seen the new shark species on For the rest of you, a couple of months ago I had the chance to join researcher Edd Brooks from the Cape Eleuthera Institute on an abyssal shark tagging project. It was a great trip that I will talk more about at a later date but from a photography standpoint, I got to jump in with three deepwater shark species and swim them down to depths where they could more easily get back to the abyss. The resulting images are of free-swimming animals that have rarely (if ever) been photographed by a diver. It was a fascinating shoot. You can read the new species accounts and see some of the resulting images here: Gulper sharkCuban dogfish and Bigeye sixgill shark. Watch out for stories about the project in a couple of forthcoming magazines.


Gulper Shark

A deep sea Gulper Shark from the Cape Eluethera shoot.





Many of next year’s trips are sold out or almost full. There are two spots left on the Malpelo Shark Safari in February. Malpelo will be extraordinary – big sharks and lots of species including schooling hammers, Galapagos sharks, whitetips, silkies and possibly other requiem shark species and pelagics like whale sharks and giant mantas. Plus we’re going at the right time of year to see smalltooth sandtigers which you won’t see anywhere else. Here’s a great pic of a smalltooth shot at Malpelo last year:


Smalltooth Sandtiger Shark



The March Socorro Humpback and Manta Expedition has just one spot open. All the info about the humpback whale encounters and the amazing manta and shark diving around Socorro is listed on but to make the trip that little bit more special, I’ve arranged a couple of days diving and accommodation at Cabo Pulmo before we board the boat to Socorro. Cabo Pulmo is a sleepy little village in southern Baja that has the best mobula ray encounters in the world. At that time of year, mobulas school in their hundreds (sometimes thousands) and jump out of the water in acrobatic courting displays.

This isn’t actually part of the trip but most of the guests have decided to join me at Cabo Pulmo to chase these dynamic creatures: 

Mobula ray jumping 


Cat Island

The are two spots left on the Cat Island Oceanic Shark Expedition in April. This is unquestionably the best spot in the world for oceanic whitetip shark encounters. As well as scuba diving with oceanics in bottomless blue water, we’re going after reef sharks and other inshore species such as tigers and lemons. That will make this a really well rounded trip but the operator recently told me that he has a spot where he thinks we can find silky sharks too. If we get them all, this will go down as one of the most diverse locations for shark diving in the Bahamas. It sounds crazy, but this is my last trip to Cat Island!

Silky sharks

Silky Sharks are very curious open ocean sharks.


Isla Mujeres

In July we’re heading to Isla Mujeres in Mexico to play with whale sharks. Four spots left right now. I’ve been amid scores of whale sharks in Holbox which is just down the road from there but I wanted a location with clear blue water, nice hotels, and easy living. If you want to relax and have a world class big animal encounter, this is the place. Whale Shark Expedition

Big whale shark and diver


Sharkfest 2012

Sharkfest was featured in the November issue of Scuba Diving Magazine. That generated a lot of interest so the boat is getting full already. This year’s film list is looking good too with films from Africa, England, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Indonesia and more. If you haven’t been to Sharkfest yet you really need to come sandtiger shark diving in North Carolina with us and enjoy talking sharks and watching brand new shark films with the rest of the shark junkies.


Sea of Cortes

If you want to see HUMBOLDT SQUID AND FINBACKS, PILOT WHALES & SPERM WHALES all in the same week long expedition, this is your chance. The Sea of Cortez Expedition was amazing last year so I’m running it again. We got to see everything we hoped for plus schooling hammers, whale sharks, hundreds of sea lions and some beautiful Mexican reefs. I’ve been so busy since this year’s trip that I haven’t had the chance to load the humboldt squid pics onto until now. But if you want to get a better idea of these magnificent 2m long creatures, follow this link: Humboldt Squid Pictures

Humboldt Squid


Isla Guadalupe

I’ve added a new trip to the 2012 rosta! Guadalupe Island is so famous among shark divers that it really needs no introduction from me. In September we are going to the best place in the world to see huge great white sharks. Crystal clear blue water, enormous sharks (by September the big females have arrived) and a spectacular backdrop with Guadalupe fur seals and Northern elephant seals. This is going to be a very special trip. The Up Close With Great White Sharks Expedition.

White shark trip

How close do you want to get?


Saving Sharks

Lastly, I wanted to chime in on the shark fin debate in Canada which is where I live. Our Prime Minister Steven Harper recently stated that he is not opposed to the import of shark fins as long as they are killed humanely. That’s a very naive opinion expressed by a politician that is either ignorant of the facts or cares more about votes than doing the right thing.
As brutal as shark finning is, the real issue is that we’re running out of sharks, not that they’re killed in a wasteful, barbaric manner.
Many shark species are on the brink of commercial extinction or have already crossed that line. This is not just a protectionist opinion. Drastic declines in shark numbers have been clearly documented by numerous well respected researchers and independent monitoring agencies around the world.

This is a call to arms to support FIN FREE CANADA. We can’t all be banner waving activists but we can all vote for change. Please sign this petition to ban the importation of shark fins into Canada:

 Also, a personal message can got a long way. Mr Harper understandably does not want to ostracize our large oriental community in Canada. However, he needs to be reminded how many votes he’ll lose if he doesn’t change his stance on this critical subject.

If you’re Canadian, please let him know that he will lose your vote over this issue. If you’re not, please tell him that the world is watching and is not impressed. Remind him how endangered sharks are and that any fins coming into Canada are not coming from sustainable fisheries regardless of how ‘humanely’ they are fished.
Please email Mr Harper with your personal message:

For the sharks as always,

Andy Murch

P.S. Expect another blog post very soon with a great new 2012 location. Get ready for the cold when Big Fish Expeditions partners with Whites Manufacturing!

Oceanic Overload and some Awesome New Diving Adventures   Leave a comment

Oceanic Overload and some Awesome New Diving Adventures

May 27th 2011


Before I get stuck into the Oceanic Whitetip Trip Report, I’d like to let everyone know that I’m heading to Rhode Island to dive with blue sharks and makos on July 30-31. There are only a couple of spots open on the trip which is being run by mako magnet Joe Romeiro. Its $325 a day. If you want to come out and play with some beautiful east coast sharks, please let me know asap:


We had an awesome week on Cat Island in the Bahamas. The oceanic whitetip shark images that you see here represent a tiny slice of what we encountered. If you want to see a larger selection of images from the trip please follow this link: Oceanic Whitetip Shark Pictures

It was a very productive trip with hours and hours of photo opportunities. The great thing about oceanics is that when they arrive, they generally stay for the whole day. Some days we had sharks virtually from the minute we arrived. To be fair, we had a couple of slow days too but you have to expect to sit and wait sometimes when you’re looking for sharks in the open ocean.

When oceanic whitetip sharks catch the scent trail, they are definitely not shy. This was my first experience with oceanics and I was extremely impressed with their boldness and their beautiful lines. In comparison with other species, their personalities are somewhere between makos and blue sharks; inquisitive and bold like a mako but laid back and nonchalant like a blue shark at the same time.

All in all it was a great week. Next year I’ll be running another Cat Island Oceanic Expedition with a few small tweaks to make it even better. One of the things we noticed this year was that if the current takes you away from shore the oceanic action is good but if you drift into shore other species come in too. So we’ll spend at least one day chumming exclusively on the reef so that we can swim with all the other species that Cat Island has to offer. If you want to join me, here’s the info: 2012 Oceanic Whitetip Expedition


The blue and mako weekend in Rhode Island marks the start of a manic summer schedule both for me and for Big Fish Expeditions. After playing with the blues and makos, I’ll have just enough time to hunt for some new elasmobranchs on the shores of New England (hoping to add some Atlantic Torpedo Ray images to Elasmodiver) and then Sharkfest kicks off in Morehead City, North Carolina.

The Sharkfest boat is full but if you happen to be diving in the area, please swing by Olympus Dive Centre or the lodge. We’ll be airing some awesome short shark films on Saturday night August 6th and we’ll have our Sharkfest BBQ on the docks on the 7th. Come one, come all.

After Sharkfest I’ll be racing home to Vancouver Island to join an exploratory diving expedition in Nootka Sound which is on the wild west side of the island. The trip is being run by Pinnacle Scuba Adventures. We’ll be visiting some brand new dive sites with the possibility of Giant Pacific Octopuses, sixgill sharks (unlikely but you never know) and a whole whack of other Pacific Northwest critters. Space is limited but the trip hasn’t been advertised yet so there is still room if you’re a not so tropical diver…

After barely a week on the island its Baja time. We’ll be reef diving on two week long trips specifically looking for fin whales, pilot whales, sperm whales and humboldt squid as well as plenty of regular reef dives and hopefully some good sea lion encounters. The first trip is sold out except for one spot for a female diver. The second trip still has a bit of room but its getting a lot of interest so please sign up asap if you would like to join me.

As usual, I’ll be coaching anyone that brings a camera if you want help. These will be great trips with a huge amount of diversity.


Here’s a unique idea, any true shark fanatics reading this blog will be aware that there’s a healthy population of Salmon Sharks in Alaska in the late summer. You may not know that they also congregate much further south in our accessible Vancouver Island waters. With that in mind, I’m trying to put together a salmon shark chumming trip for early September aboard one of our local liveaboards. It will be very experimental but not crazy expensive for a week on a BC liveaboard. More on this if I manage to pull everything together in time.


By the time October rolls around I’ll be ready to head out looking for new rare shark species for the Predators in Peril Project. This time I’ll be working with researchers in the Bahamas that are bringing up deep sea sharks to measure and tag them. Their motives are to assess abundance and to find out which species inhabit great depth in the Bahamas tropical seas. I’ll be documenting their work in pictures and slipping into the water to shoot each species as it is released. Its a very exciting project that should yield some great images.


On my Big Fish Expeditions Website I have a Bull Shark trip listed for December in Playa Del Carmen but there are no exact dates because I’m still sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what happens this year. Last season, after the sharks had congregated to attend the shark feed, they were captured and killed by shark fishermen from the surrounding villages. As a conservationist, I can’t participate in a feed this year if the sharks are likely to meet the same fate. So, the trip is on hold until I hear that the locals have found a way to protect the sharks.



Looking even further forward, I have chartered the Inula which is a liveaboard catamaran that sails out of Panama to Malpelo which is a small volcanic island deep in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. If you haven’t heard of Malpelo, imagine world famous Cocos Island but with even more shark diversity. Malpelo has schooling hammers in relatively shallow water, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, whitetips (not the oceanic kind), occasional whale sharks, mantas and in February (which is when we’ll be going) Smalltooth Sandtiger Sharks which are the regular sandtiger’s oversized cousin. The smalltooths live in very deep water and swim up to the 50-60 meter range at Malpelo for a short time each year. The pics from this year’s trip (taken by accomplished photographer Tomas Kotouc) show how impressive and accessible these animals are at the island.

With six full days at Malpelo and two extra dive days on Panama’s excellent off shore reefs on the way there and back, the Malpelo Shark Safari will be an amazing adventure. More info on Big Fish: Malpelo Shark Safari


Dates are up! The Tiger Beach Experience stands alone. I hope you can make it next year: 2012 Tiger Beach Photo Workshop and Shark Safari


And finally, by popular demand I have a new batch of Elasmo Tees hot off the printing press. This time they have logos front and back and come in three colours. Support Elasmodiver and Predators in Peril with a stylin’ new elasmo-tee (or two, or three…)

Men’s fitted and women’s fitted cap sleeved are available. Get ’em while you can, I’m running out already. Ordering info here: Elasmo Tees

For the sharks,

Andy Murch