Archive for the ‘sevengill shark’ Tag






Diving with sevengill sharks

Its been a month since I returned from our first South African Shark Safari and I still can’t get that incredible experience out of my head. With the possibility of fourteen species of sharks I knew that it would be a good trip but I had no idea how good. Cape Town is a shark diver’s paradise! On one memorable dive we slipped into a beautiful kelp forest amid a handful of broadnose sevengill sharks and then swum amongst five species of catsharks that were hunting on the reef. A couple of shy spotted gully sharks also made a brief appearance making a total of seven species on one dive alone! That would be enough to set the West Cape apart from almost every other dive site in the world but just a few kms away from the reef is Seal Island where you can also dive with hunting great white sharks and still be back in time to watch African penguins waddling along the beach in the afternoon sun.


By the end of that amazing week, I was so impressed by South African shark diving that I immediately booked dates for 2014. Join me in Cape Town next year if you can: 2014 WEST CAPE SHARK SAFARI. After sharing a few pics on Big Fish Expedition’s Facebook Page this trip is already almost full so please contact me asap if you’d like to come!




With so much world class diving on offer, it would be crazy to go all the way to South Africa for just one adventure. So, next year after the Cape Town Shark Safari, Big Fish Expeditions is staying in South Africa for the world famous Sardine Run. For most people the Sardine Run needs no introduction but for anyone that has been living in a bubble, the Sardine Run occurs each year when cold upwellings force millions of sardines to the surface. The resulting river of bait-fish is so enormous that sharks, dolphins, whales, diving birds and huge schools of tuna congregate off the Wild Coast of South Africa in record numbers to feast on the oil rich fish. The bait-ball action that sometimes occurs at this time is one of the most spectacular oceanic events on the planet. Join me in the thick of it!

Sardine Run birds diving

Dolphins attacking sardines on the Sardine Run

Just on its own,The Sardine Run would be an epic event but to make our expedition even more special, I am combining the Sardine Run with some exploratory chumming dives for endemic catsharks on the inshore reefs of the Wild Coast and with offshore, blue water, baited dives for bronze whaler sharks, oceanic blacktips and any other shark species that show up to feed. Join me on the 2014 SARDINE RUN AND WILD COAST SHARK SAFARI Just one spot left!




I’m very excited to bring you this new trip! Each summer, thousands of Beluga Whales congregate in Hudson Bay to feed, breed and socialize. Join me on a ground breaking expedition to swim with and photograph these iconic white whales in their natural environment. We will spend four mornings swimming among large pods of belugas. These are extremely curious animals so it is likely that they will approach us very closely.

In the afternoons we’ll drive into the tundra and look for topside wildlife such as polar bears that forage on berries during the arctic summer. And then on our final day, we will trade in our zodiac for a proper tour of the tundra on the world famous tundra buggy. This is an adventure that you will remember forever! Join me in Churchill, Manitoba for the CANADIAN WHITE WHALE MIGRATION






Last week we were in Scotland searching for basking sharks. Scotland was ruggedly beautiful but because of a very late spring that brought unseasonably cold weather, the sharks did not arrive as predicted. We saw a couple of sharks breach but there was no opportunity for in-water encounters. It was tough luck but if you go on enough trips this will inevitably happen sooner or later. We had a great group so everyone had a good time anyway and we did get to dive with seals and other Scottish marine life and explore some interesting reefs around Tobermory. Next year we’ll be back there to finish what we started!



Next week we begin our whale shark season in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I’m happy to report that the sharks have already arrived in their hundreds so we’re expecting some great encounters over the next few weeks. We have just two spots open from August 2-7. So if you want to swim with the world’s biggest fish please drop me an email.

While we’re in Isla Mujeres, I am hoping to put together a film about this unique aggregation of enormous animals and the problems that they are facing. I’ll let you know how that went after this year’s trip.




Big Fish Expeditions would not exist if it wasn’t for the popularity of The Elasmodiver database remains one of the largest collections of shark and ray images on the internet and is an unbiased source of shark diving information. The images on Elasmodiver are frequently used by conservation groups to help push through regulations and treaties aimed at protecting sharks and rays (aka elasmobranchs) around the world.

After our whale shark trips, I am heading to California to look for a very illusive deepwater shark and to try to add some other elasmos including the Pacific torpedo ray to the Elasmodiver database. If you happen to see any along the southern California coast in August, please drop me a line!

Then at the end of August I’m back in Rhode Island for a sold out Blue/Mako/Dogfish Shark Safari. After the charter I’ll be shore diving for a few days around Rhode Island and Massachusetts to hunt for more endemic sharks and rays. Specifically, I’d like to track down an Atlantic torpedo ray so if you’re diving up that way and know where they’re hanging out this year, please email me with info!



We are planning a quick trip to Argentina to chase illusive sharks in November and then in early December I have an exciting Big Fish Expeditions trip to Baja for a week of chasing striped marlin, whales, mola mola and sharks. When the sardines are running, Baja’s west coast is a dynamic place to dive where anything can show up to feed. Join me there for a week of adventure!


Striped Marlin Diving and feeding



Finally, I have one spot that opened up on my Killer Whale trip to Norway in January. If you want to swim with one of the largest predators in the sea, this is your chance!



See you down there,

Andy Murch




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Sevengill Sharks in San Diego   Leave a comment

Sevengills in San Diego

24th April 2009

We have just left San Diego but we will definitely be back! San Diego is one of the sharkiest cities in North America period.

To recap, we arrived just over a week ago to storm like conditions and had to sit around frustrated while the waves pounded the shore line. After a couple of days the weather abated and we were able to get out with our good friend Walter Heim who found us some beautiful blue sharks to shoot. See our previous blog Blue Dogs off San Diego.

Walter’s friend Dave Hinkel (Owner of Blue Abyss Photo) was also on the boat and he was kind enough to give us some pics of us in the water with the blues.

After boat diving with Walter we heard that there had been a broadnose sevengill shark sighted in La Jolla Cove. We have always wanted to dive the cove so we arrived early and kicked out to the kelp forest cameras at the ready. We didn’t really expect find a sevengill shark but we had also heard that the cove is a good spot to find horn sharks so we were excited either way.

The forest is a fair distance from shore and as we wound our way back to the beach, looking under ledges for horn sharks, a curious sevengill suddenly materialized out of the kelp and did a quick circle around us. If you don’t know your sharks you could be forgiven for not understanding how unlikely this encounter was. Looking for horn sharks and finding a 7ft sevengill is like looking for nickels on the beach and digging up a diamond ring. Local divers that dive the bay every week may see a sevengill once a year or so if they’re very lucky. I don’t even know how to describe our luck in seeing a sevengill on our very first shore dive!

The shark let me get a couple of snap shots. Nothing particularly great and I couldn’t get in front of him no matter how fast I swam but at least we were able to record the moment.

I think Claire was in shock through the entire minute long encounter. She told me later that she was torn between shooting the shark and modeling for me to give my shots a sense of scale. As usual she did a great job.

After that we were hooked. We returned to the beach and switched out our tanks and dove straight back in but the illusive broadnose sevengill had given us our moment of contact and we spent the next three dives at the cove shooting horn sharks, banded guitarfish and shovelnose guitarfish.

The horn sharks made great photo subjects. We were able to shoot them hiding in crevices and swimming over the brilliant green sea grass beds that waved back and forth in the surge.

The banded guitarfish were the same species as the ones that we shot in the coral reefs in the Sea of Cortez. It is quite surprising that they are able to tolerate such temperature differences. Shooting them in kelp made a nice backdrop instead of coral but I now have so many banded guitarfish shots that I really have to start deleting some off my hard drives.

The other guitarfish that we encountered, the shovelnose, is usually a very skittish subject. I have tried to shoot this species at the beach and they invariably explode out of the sand in a puff of silt and swim for the depths before I can get anywhere near them. We were a long way off shore when  I found this one in the kelp forest and I think it was a little surprised to see me. Even so, I only got one shot off before it returned to its senses and headed for the hills.

Between dives we drove over to the Marine Room which is a snorkeling spot named after the restaurant of the same name. This is the best place on the planet to find leopard sharks but it was a little early in the year for the leopards to congregate in big numbers and I could not see more than some shadows in the distance – just one more reason to come back to San Diego.

We also tried a night dive at La Jolla shores in search of angel sharks but after an epic surface swim and a long, freezing cold night dive we returned to the shore empty handed. That isn’t such a big deal as we are heading up to Tajegis Beach near Santa Barbara soon. Tajegis is a good spot for angels but a bad spot for surge so if we are lucky enough to arrive there when the weather is cooperating we will get one more kick at the can.

We had planned to slowly work our way up the coast to San Francisco but the forecast for shore diving is not good so we have decided reverse everything and get to San Fran as fast as we can and then slowly work our way back down to San Diego before cutting across to the Gulf of Mexico to start our east coast leg.

Another development that we just couldn’t pass up; we have decided to squeeze in a trip to Catalina on the advice of Ron Clough who conducts the California Shark and Ray Count. I have never seen a Pacific Torpedo Ray so Ron (who’s advice has always panned out in the past) gave us the skinny on where to reliably find pacific torpedos:

“Torpedos are at Catalina Island, Casino Point.  Go deep, 70-90 ft. out toward the corner buoy on the left hand side, as you stand on the stair case facing the ocean. I’d give you a 99% chance.  Also, look forward to great vis there and some great shots. Hope I get a chance to dive with you.” With advice that detailed how could we resist! So, we are cutting the Grand Canyon off of our itinerary (it’s just a big hole in the ground anyway) and penciling in two days at Catalina.

Our east coast shark diving itinerary for May is starting to fall into place so if you’re anywhere between Texas and Florida come out and say hello.

For the sharks,

Andy murch