March 2007 Tiger Shark
After 6 months of being Mr. Mom for our
newborn son, I finally was going to get
back in the water, so needless to say, I
was really looking forward to this trip.
On my previous Tiger shark trip in 2005,
hurricane Wilma came through about a week
before the trip and seemed to scare all
the sharks off into deep water. We had
sharks, but not many, and with only a few,
they kept their distance.
This time, with the trip scheduled for
the spring, I wouldn't have to worry about
a hurricane, just about bad weather in
general. Nonetheless, I flew to West Palm
Beach to meet up with the group and the
crew of the Dolphin Dream. I have been
working with the Dream Team (with their
current boat the Dolphin Dream and their
previous boat the Dream Too) for 12 years
now. These are definitely the best people
in the business. Captains Scott and Andy
know what they are doing with dolphins and
sharks, and the boat is big, comfortable
and stable. I just love this operation and
keep going back! They are old friends now
and I feel like I have never left the
minute I step aboard.
The group for this trip was a mix of
longtime diving friends like Pierre, Carl,
Brenda, and Mark, as well as some new
faces I had never met before (Wolfgang,
Dave, The other Dave, Lindsay and Carol)
as well as my buddy Bob Evans, the
creative genius behind Force Fins.
Although I have known Bob for 15 years, we
have never been diving together before, so
it was about time I got him on a trip with
me--and a bunch of sharks!
Those of us who arrived in the morning
put our gear on the boat, and went out to
lunch. We ended up in a sports bar kind of
place with me sitting right below a framed
Larry Bird jersey. We all agreed this was
a good omen.
Everyone else arrived later in the
afternoon without issues, and we pushed
off around midnight to make the crossing
to the Bahamas. It takes about 7 hours,
and we enjoyed a very smooth crossing, no
problems whatsoever. I slept through most
of it. In the morning we had breakfast at
the dock in West End, Grand Bahama, while
Capt. Scott went to customs with our
passports. In 2 hours we were out of
there, and off to "Tiger Wreck." Many
people have heard of "Tiger Beach", a
shallow sand bank where a couple of dive
operations chum for Tiger sharks. Tiger
Wreck is an old wreck nearby that provides
a solid anchorage for a large boat. It's
about 20 feet deep, with a sandy bottom--a
beautiful place to photograph sharks, with
lots of light including nice fill-light
reflections off the bottom.
We started chumming upon arrival, and
settled in to wait a while for sharks. I
warned the group that they should not plan
on seeing sharks that day, as it can take
a couple days to get a Tiger. Capt Scott
said at the very least, don't expect a
Tiger until the tide turns. The outgoing
tide brings the chum out into the bank and
brings the sharks back. So we planned a
quick checkout dive for everyone to adjust
weight and tinker with various new camera
However, within 5 minutes we had our
first Lemon shark. Within a half hour we
had a Tiger. Within an hour we had more
than 20 Lemon sharks and a pair of Tigers.
Life was good! We suited up for a checkout
dive with over 20 sharks.
At the end of day 1, we had all spent
about 3 hours in the water before it got
dark, and most of us had hundreds of
pictures of Lemons and a few decent Tiger
The next day we divided into 3 groups
and took turns, so there would be fewer
people in each others shots, as well as no
strobes going off in the video guys shots.
Each group did about 3 hours bottom time
throughout the day. I shot hundreds more
pictures, including some very satisfying
images of Tigers. I realized that I could
theoretically shoot more pictures than I
could fit on my laptop if I worked at it!
I had to be a little more selective with
the shutter release. But digital
photography has made me completely forget
the film-rationing techniques that I
worked years to develop. I was shooting
the equivalent of 5-10 rolls of film per
90 minute dive! What really surprised me
is that my Ikelite DS-125s with the new
Nickel Metal hydride batteries can keep up
for 300+ shots, but they can. Amazing.
By the end of day 2, it was obvious
that we were not going to stay the entire
week at this spot. Hard to
imagine&emdash;but some people were
actually getting bored with Tiger sharks.
We decided to spend at least one more full
day. So on day 3 we did more of the same,
and by then I was really getting a feel
for the Tiger sharks and what they do. My
images got better, as did everyone's. We
had three more Tigers show up. We now had
two small ones, two large ones and one
REALLY large one. Everyone had many many
chances to photograph them. It was shark
ecstasy! At the end of day 3, we had a
split in the group, with some wanting to
move to another spot for something else,
and the hard-core Tiger junkies wanting to
stay another day. (We decided to stay
another day. :-D ) So on day 4, we were
out there taking shots of each other with
the sharks, petting them, shooting
close-ups of various anatomical features,
and generally taking it to the next level.
At this point I can say that I probably
don't need any more pictures of Tigers or
At the end of day 4, we moved the boat
to a location 90 feet deep near the edge
of the reef in search of Great
Hammerheads. Before the anchor was down,
we had a hammer circling the boat. I
started suiting up, but sunset was only
about 30 minutes away. The light was
incredible, but with no chum in the water,
there was little chance the shark would
stick around. They anchored the boat and I
hopped in just as they started chumming. A
few Caribbean reef sharks came to the
boat, but I saw no hammerhead
We spent day 5 chumming the site for
hammers, but didn't get one. That
afternoon we moved to the Sugar Wreck for
a late afternoon and night dive. The Sugar
wreck is a wonderful old steel-hulled
wreck that is mostly crushed into pieces
on the bottom. (The name comes from its
cargo of molasses). But it is covered in
fish and has a couple resident turtles.
After the night dive, we moved to a calm
protected spot for the night. We had
planned to go to a 50 foot deep reef site
known as Muriel's Garden to chum for some
Caribbean Reef and Bull sharks, but the
weather was expected to get worse in the
next couple days. Some people on the trip
had been asking about spending a few hours
playing with wild dolphins, so we decided
to do that on day 6 while the weather was
So day 6 was spent doing the dolphin
thing, driving around out on white sand
ridge looking for playful dolphins. We
found one small group of playful Spotted
dolphins, and another group of friendly
Bottlenosed dolphins. We jumped in with
them over and over until everyone was
pretty tired and the dolphins got bored.
It was fairly rough and the water was not
that clear, so we lost our motiviation
pretty quickly. (This is why I do my
dolphin trips later in the spring when the
water is calmer and clearer.) Nonetheless,
everyone got to see dolphins underwater,
so that was fun for the people who had
never done that before. I even got a few
decent pictures of the Bottlenosed
Then we decided to head to Muriel's
Garden. Unfortunately, when we got up to
the area of the site, we discovered that
the current was running over 2 knots. We
would not be diving there! We could anchor
and wait to see if it calmed down, or we
could form a new plan. We decided to go
back to Shark Wreck and try to chum up
some more Tigers
.what the heck, you
can never have too many Tiger sharks! We
got there and started chumming. Within an
hour we had a few Lemons and a REALLY big
female Tiger shark that was hungry and did
a lot of performing. I skipped the dive to
help Pierre shoot some topside scenes for
his video, and I'm told I missed a heck of
a great dive!
That evening the wind changed direction
and we had to leave Tiger Wreck, so we
went around to the other side of the sand
bar to escape the waves. The next morning
(our last day) the wind was blowing the
wrong direction to anchor at Tiger wreck.
We almost pulled anchor and headed home
early because Capt. Scott didn't think we
would have any luck with Tigers on the
back of the sandbar. But we did some
chumming anyway. Within an hour we had a
small Tiger but no Lemons. By this time
everyone had cleaned their gear and was
settling in for lunch, preparing to leave
early for home. Soon a second, and then a
third Tiger shark arrived
lemons. It is pretty rare to have three
Tigers and no Lemons to get in the shots!
So we took pictures of the Tigers grabbing
baits off the swim step for a couple hours
and had a great time. Pierre used the
polecam technique with his video camera,
and I just took topside shots.
At about 6 PM we had to head back, and
the wind had come up quite a bit. It was a
rocky crossing, but the Dolphin Dream is
so stable that it wasn't bad at all. A big
change from the old boat! We woke up the
next morning in West Palm Beach, went
through customs and departed for flights
home. The week few by, and I already am
looking forward to doing it again. But I
have a LOT of pictures to go through
first! (Link coming soon).
Capt. Andy is busy emptying a freezer by
feeding its contents to the sharks! We had
four freezers full of fish!
As you can see, we managed to attract a
few sharks. These are all Lemon
The swim step becomes a favorite spot for
photography between dives.
But the best pictures are made
Tiger sharks always look angry!
A Lemon shark goes after the bait.
Check out more DIVE
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On the first night, fin designer Bob
Evans gave us an introduction to several
of his fins and how they work.
Capt. Scotty is feeding the
Wolfgang, our token free-diver, has to get
into the water amidst a pile of sharks!
(He loved it!)
The real pictures are made underwater, as
Mark even got a good shot of me!
Bob shooting the old school film
David surrounded by sharks!
Pierre is shooting HD footage of the
sharks, working on a program for Canadian
I got so many great Tiger shark pictures
that I can't figure out which ones to
post, so here's a nice face shot.
Here's one eating the chum box!
A big mama--she looks pregnant to
In yo face!
<Insert Jaws Theme here>
The purpose of the trip was Tiger sharks,
but the Lemons were cool too!
Working on my Doubilet technique at
A Lemon shark at night.
Bob chasing a Lemon during the golden
A Tiger shark grabs the bait!
Why are they called "Tiger" sharks? Now
Our vessel for the trip, the 85 foot
A Bottlenosed dolphin performs for my
A Loggerheard sea turtle at the "Sugar
A Barracuda comes in close on a night dive
at the Sugar Wreck.
Our intrepid group of
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