SDM JOURNAL FOR...
April 28, 2009
Its been a slow blogging month. Sorry about that. It is not that I have had nothing to blog about, it was that I was busy finishing up issue 20 and getting it ready for print. Now that it has left our office I am back in the groove of blogging and updating you all on our latest shark gossip. Currently the next adventure is planned for mid-May when Andy Murch comes thru town, we will visit with him and dive Venice, LA with my buddy Captain Al Walker.
The Sdm cre with Capt. Al (L-R) Raf, Al, Andy, and me.
Captain Al runs his trips out to the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These are always EPIC dives with intense shark action. This time of year, we could expect to see makos, or duskies, or scalloped hammerheads. This is the gulf and you never know what your gonna see out there, all I know is that it is going to be an intense dive. When your 60 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, everything gets big, and the sharks are all skittish and amped up. One because we are chumming for them, and the sharks are on scavenger mode, and looking around for a free meal.
My very favorite road trip pic from our film shoot Summer of the Sharks. Barbequeing, and drinking beer for our dinner, talking shark after the days dive, and drying gear in the hot Louisiana sun. It was perfect!
Venice is also the location of one of the most EPIC road trip stops I have ever been on. I am all about off the beaten path adventures and Livin the Dream...and so on. So when we arrived at the marina on our first day of this adventure I was blown away with the setting. It was super rustic, the fishermen had all come in after a long day on the water, their catches were all 100-200 pound tuna, and mahi, and wahoo. We had so much bait for our first day on the water, we had to throw a bunch a way. Its like Andy said in our film, Summer of the Sharks, "We have too much bait for tomorrow, you can't have too much bait, thats like saying I have too much money!"
Want big sharks? Use big bait!
I remember being in bed about to crash out on our first night there, when Capt Al called Rafa on his phone. I did not know what he was saying, all I could here was Rafa saying "No I don't want to go, but Eli will." I am am looking at him like he was out of his mind. I was dead tired and wanted to rest for the morning dive. I was shaking my head 'NO' at him. Rafa then said "ten minutes, yes he will be ready." My eyes went wide with anger. He hung up the phone, and I started saying, "Raf, what the hell man, I am in bed..." Raf cut me off and said, "Crawfish boil!" I jumped up, threw on some clothes, totally stoked about my first real Cajun crawfish party. Me and Rusty ate like crazy that night, and blew our chance to film or photograph it, because we did not think to bring the camera. I woke up hung over, but happy for our first day on the water, and totally burned my eyes putting on my contacts in the AM, due to the spices used on the crawdaddies.
Leaving the marina there is so amazingly cool, we had to go out through this long channel to get to the ocean, and it was such an amazing setting, so fitting for a Louisiana dive story. The boat ride was super rough,and it beat the hell out of us, but was so worth it. When we hit around 60 miles or so, Captain Al dropped anchor on a sea mount, and within 20 minutes or so, we had something like 20-30 dusky sharks around us. It was totally insane. Such an EPIC time! Then at the end of the dive, not sure if it was our first or second day of the dive, another boat called out that they had just seen a whale shark not too far from where we were, so we hauled ass after the shark, breaking our rule that you don't leave sharks to find sharks. And we didn't find it...in fact it found us. We turned off our boat, and just sat there scanning the water, before we knew it, a whale shark surfaced right next to the boat. Rusty was like, "What is that?", a huge head of a shark just surfaced, it was a mad scramble for gear and cameras. Such an awesome memory... such an awesome time.
So we head back there on May 9th, and this time it is me, Andy Murch and his fiance, Claire, Paul Spielvogel, and Nathan Meadows. All SDM shooters, together for one last hurrah before Andy leaves to Australia. Am totally stoked
13 days and counting!
APRIL 14, 2009
Shark Attacks turtle! - There is a big story running around right now about a sea turtle who just recieved a new shot at a normal life. A Ridleys sea turtle was rescued by Sea Turtle Inc. off of South Padre Island, Texas in 2005. She was left injured and barely survived after a tiger shark had bitten off three of her 4 limbs. Normally turtles found in this state are uthenized, but the people at the center just could not do it, and decided to try and improve her quality of life. The turtle was left swimming around in circles, due to having only one limb. So the resuce team tried to fit her with a prostetic limb but there ws not enough of a stump left to attach it to. A 21 year old kid came up with an idea based on the concept of canoe paddling and designed a wet suit fixed with a carbon fiber dorsal fin that now allows the turtle to swim in a straight line, and lead a semi normal life.
(Image of the turtle to be taken later, I am going out there to photograph and film the turtle myself)
Although this turtle will never be returned to the wild again, it is an opportunity for her to grow and live out her expected life. Its a pretty cool story, and says much about man and the desire for a few individuals to try and give back and help these beautiful animals. But this is again another story that works against our beloved sharks, making it harder for people to ever love them.
How can anyone fall in love with the villian in this story? A tiger sharks job in the ocean is to help control turtle populations. That is why they are here, that is why they grow to the sizes that they grow. Some turtles like the Ridley get big, weighing in upwards of 500 pounds, so only big sharks can take down large prey like that. They are equipt with cutting teeth on both their upper and lower jaws, so that they can crack those hard shells. Tigers feed on other prey items also, but the number one reason they are here and designed the way they are is to help keep the turtle populations in check. But again, how can someone fall in love with a 17 foot monster sized shark that is a coastal surface ambush predator? We have a long, uphill battle to fight if we are to save our sharks from the brink of extinction. But one that was worth fighting for... once we have attained victory!
APRIL 5, 2009
I am so stoked. The summer is here and plans are in the works for an insane shark summer. Right now as we speak, SDM shooter Andy Murch is on an wild road trip with his fiance' Claire to go diving all through the US before they pack up and leave for Australia, for good! It is a farewell road trip, and so far the adventure is super EPIC. Hell it is way better than our Summer of the Sharks road trip that we were on. The trip he is on is the one we should of done for the movie. But don't take my word for it, follow along in his blog.
Andy in a hotel room with a mountain of gear... the life of a shark diver. Knowing Andy, all the bags you see are dive and camera gear, and his cloths are packed in that little bag you see on the chair next to him. Thats more than enough for a 3 month road trip.
Already dealing with trouble on the trip. Andy's van got stuck while trying to find a good camp site on one of Baja's beaches. Claire is trying to dig it out
But Andy's trip led to one last hurra with my good friend before he splits for Australia. I have not gone diving with Andy in over 2 years. Damn where does the time go? So we have a couple of tentative dive plans in the works. The first is an EPIC (yes I use the word alot) return trip to Venice, Louisiana to hook up with Captain Al and go sharkin. Duskies should be running as well as makos and scalloped hammers. This is planned for May when he passes through Texas. Andys plan is to stop in and visit with Paul in Houston for a couple of days, where I will head up and hang out with Andy and Claire, and talk shark while they are there. Then, me Paul, Nathan Meadows, Andy and Claire will road trip it up to Venice. The SDm crew on a hard core shark trip together...it is going to be great!
Then after Venice we have a tentative plan to head up to the Bahamas for an exploratory trip seeking out oceanic whitetips around the cat islands. That plan is still in the works so hopefully it will pan out. Hey we also will be inviting a few people with us for the oceanic trip so if you want to go, shoot me an email, unfortunately we have room for only 4 people. So right now its going to be an amazing summer full of sharky adventures...can't wait!