Tiger Shark Expedition

Date
October 17-24, 2009
Location
Northern Bahamas
Objective
Dive with Tiger sharks
Weather
A rain squall moved in, causing us to stay one day in port, with a couple of days of crazy swells. End of trip was amazing weather.
Dive Conditions
Wind caused swells and currents to muck up the vis, dropping vis to zero at Tiger Beach. Water temp. averaged 82-85 degrees. Perfect days after storm passed
Type of Dive
Shark Feed. (fish parts and chum used to attract sharks)
Shark Species
We saw 3 different species of sharks on this trip. Caribbean reef sharks, lemon sharks, and tigers. We had 4 different tiger sharks visit us, including a 13 foot, 1,200 lb female tiger.

Trip Report

We spent the day hanging around West End in the Bahamas because the weather had gotten so bad it made no sense to hit tiger beach, just to sit on the boat and bounce around all day. It was super windy on the island, but the sun was out and it was real pretty. A group of our guests decided to go into town and enjoy the day chumming around. A few of us stayed on the boat, some were working on camera gear, and others were just catching up on missing sleep. I spent the day working on more layouts for issue 21.


Becky, Stefan and Stacey along with some of our other guests spent the day enjoying the island.

The following morning, most of the storm had passed so we decided to head out to tiger beach and start chumming. We did not have to wait long for the first lemon sharks to show up, but the visability was really bad, so only a few people jumped in. The vis stayed terrible for the entire day but around dusk we tried a dive, ending the evening with a really nice mellow dive. Around 10 lemon sharks were hanging around now, and about when the sun was going down the visability started to clear up. No tiger sharks visited us today. Not a good start to this tiger shark adventure. I was hoping for some better action and weather tomorrow.


Perfect sharky sunset.

The following morning, more bad news. We again woke up to gusting winds, and terrible vis, and no tiger sharks. The good news was that we had around 15 lemon sharks hanging around. Sometime during the morning hours, something had cut the line on one of our bait crates. It was a metal line, and lemon sharks teeth are not strong enough to cut through metal like that. I am sure they could if they set their mind to it, but their teeth are not really designed for that kind of work, and tiger sharks are notorious for cutting lines and swimming off with bait crates. I took this as a good sign that tiger sharks were already lurking around. We began chumming a little bit harder to see if a tiger shark was in the area. However, even if there was a tiger shark out there, with the vis being pea soup, we would of never seen it. We managed one dive with lemons in so-so vis at high tide, but by 1 PM, we had enough, the visability was getting worse, so we pulled anchor and tried a spot that may possibly reward us with great hammerheads.

Within a few minutes of arriving at the new dive site, a bunch of reef sharks came in for the snacks we were offering. The reef at this site was around 60 feet, but it was so blown out with sand, none of us bothered to spend any time down there. We stayed in the water column around 20 feet or so where the vis was beautiful, and hung out the frisky reef sharks that bounced off our dome ports a few times. reefies can be nasty little buggers when they want to be.

Becky shooting reef sharks.

We pulled anchor at the end of the day and headed back to tb. Everyone had fun with the reefies, but here we were at the end of our 3rd day and no tiger sharks. Granted this was only our 2nd day of diving, as we spent the first stuck in port, and the weather has taken a toll on this trip, and it was out of my hands, I was still stressing. This was a tiger shark trip and I wanted my guests to see and intereact with some tiger sharks. I do understand this is not a zoo, and there is always a strong possibilty that we may not see any sharks, we had already spent plenty of time with 2 different species of sharks. I still wanted that tiger. We always come back with the stories and the photos! I did not want this to be the first time we came home without a tiger tale.


reef shark dropping down. Just a cool looking pic.

By the morning of our third day of diving at tb, I was praying for something different...we got our wish. The weather cleared up and when high tide rolled we had gin clear water. Over 20 lemon sharks were hanging around, and within 30 minutes of the first divers entering the water, someone popped their head out and yelled "tiger shark!" We spent the day with 2 tiger sharks. One was a solid player, and the second was just a wingman and would not come in. She just hung around in the distance, sometimes coming into view. The tiger was small, maybe around 8 feet long. But she was conficent and came in close, giving everyone an opportunity to shoot plenty of pictures of her.

Our young tiger coming in for a visit. Everyone thought this was awesome, until Fluffy showed up and showed them what a full grown tiger looks like.

She stayed with us for more than 3 hours and eveyone pretty much hung out in the water with her as well. When someone would run out of air, they would come up, refill their tank and then drop back in. It was a fun day and I felt some of the pressure ease up. But we still had two days of diving left, and out here everyday is different, we needed more tiger shark action.


Lemons are entertaining when the tiger shark acion is slow.

We woke up to our 4th day of diving; beautiful ocean conditions. The wind was still blowing but not as bad, and the visability was amazing when high tide hit. Again we got the shout out "tiger shark!" However there was something extra added into the shout. It was "HUGE TIGER SHARK!" A 12-13 foot female tiger shark showed up, she looked like she was upwards of 1,200 lbs. She was big girl with signs that she was pregnant. She had old mating scars and a swollen belly. A good sign for the future.

Fluffy was a solid player and just a very well behaved shark.

I decided to bring down a crate to interact with her and see if she would stick around. She was interested in what we were doing and stayed with us for over 4 hours and everyone had amazing moments with her. I was so happy with the day. One of our guests climbed out of the water saying that after that dive, we could go home, he was so thrilled with the trip. That made me happy.

Bump-Bump!

She was a very well behaved shark and allowed us to interact with her. I was having a blast, between our tiger which we named Fluffy, and all the lemon sharks I was also interacting with, it was an amazing dive.


Fluffy was a big girl, when she would open her mouth, she would just suck the food in, not even exposing her teeth. She was just a good girl.


I really had fun interacting with the lemons. Here I was trying different things to see how the lemons would behave being nosed by a gloved hand and an ungloved hand. I wanted to feel their reactions, and see if they differed.

We spent the whole day diving with Fluffy and a bunch of lemon sharks which I named a bunch on this trip; Cindy, Scar, Slash, Wart, Browncoat. Those lemons were the dominant sharks and were the ones I would interact with and feed the most. They were the first on the scene, and the ones who got to eat first. And since I was familiar with the way they moved, I felt more comfortable feeding them. Every once in a while the lemons would get all fired up and they all wanted scraps so they would come in and things would go western.


It really is a sight to see when lemons just get into their pack scavenging mentality. Its awesome to watch.

I would just move away until the scene would settle down, then the pecking order would be back in place and my lemons would take over again. This trip was just amazing and I learned so much about the sharks that call TB their part-time home, I am looking forward to going back in December and seeing my friends again.


The lemons spend so much time here, they have created tiger beach into not only a part time feeding station, but also a cleaning station as well.



Stacey spent so much time underwater she gave up trying to get a tan up on the boat, and decided to try and get one on the ocean floor. Kidding


Stefan decided he did not want to surface at all and decided to try and catch his own dinner. Kidding, it was wild, all these lobsters were marching around in the sand. Some were marching single file. I had no idea where they came from but they were all over tb.

Our last day of diving was spent the same way, with incredible interaction, Fluffy came back in for an hour or so to visit with us, and all our guests had plenty of photo opportunities. We dove until everyone was just exhausted, it was great. Our evenings were spent chatting, eating like kings, and watching great shows like Firefly, and Summer of the Sharks, (both were everyones favorite! hehe -ok maybe I threw that last one in.). I spent the end of each day helping Andy Murch trying to get the classic Mouth open shot, above and below water at sunset. Which is crazy hard work to do by the way, that is why those images are so prized. Andy shot an image that I predict will become an award winning image in any photo contest. It is an amazing shot. I wish I could show it to you all. You will see it later on...Someday.


Thank you again to everyone who joined me on this trip. It was a real pleasure and a blast. I look forward to seeing you somewhere out in the world again. The only two people I was worried about not having a good time, was our couple from Russia, (Vladamir and Maria) they were very well travelled (4 trips to Cocos alone) but did not speak much english, so I was concerned they did not have fun. 5 days after the trip I recieved word, that this was one of the best trips they had ever been on. Which made me really happy to hear.


Cheers again to everyone, can't wait to see you all again!!!

Livin'the Dream!


If you would like to learn more about our 2010 trips... click here.

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