A friend of mine invited me to go on the "Super Bowl" of shark diving trips! Joe Romerio of 333 Productions booked Tiger Beach with Jim Abernethy. There were 10 of us on this trip, all hand picked by Joe so I got to be with some phenomonal photographers! We left out of West Palm Beach on Jim Abernethy’s live-aboard The Shear Water. Very comfortable and well maintained boat. And what a great crew he has! We were definately in good hands. We were going to leave at 7pm but the wind was 35mph with 45mph gusts. We waited until midnight when the wind had abated a bit. All I can say is.....I know what it’s like to try and sleep in a washing machine. It was well worth the ride to see the beautiful turquoise water of the Bahamas the next morning. We had to stop at immigration for about an hour then off to Tiger Beach. This trip is designed to get us up close and personal with Tiger, Lemon, Reef, and Great Hammerheads. This is a "no cages" trip so we had a 2 hour dive briefing before hitting the water. Jim Abernethy is a super professional and has set rules you must obey for yours and the sharks safety. I think it is truely ammazing the way he has these trips organized so you get the mazimum dive time and interaction with the sharks. He REALLY is there for each and every one of his passengers. Of the 5 days of diving we saw 4 different dive sites. Tiger Beach/Crystal Tiger is located in a sandy area in about 20ft of water. Shark Tooth Ridge is a reef next to a sandy area. The reef is about 50 ft deep, where the sand is, it’s about 70ft. Ginormous is another reef next to a sandy area. The Reef is about 55ft, the sand about 80f. The last place was called Flying Tiger Splashing Dragon. We didn’t dive here but we had some wild top side action! I’ll get to that...........
First....Tiger Beach/Crystal Tiger!!!! To attract the sharks we had milk crates full of fish tied together and dangling off the back corner of the boat. You can see them in some of the pics I posted. As soon as the bait went in the water we had Lemon sharks.....lots and lots of Lemon sharks. I’d never seen one before. They’re quite big! I’d say between 5 and 9ft. They actually have a yellow tint to them. Ed, the Divemaster went down first to make sure everything was good, then off the boat we went! You had to make sure you didn’t slide off on a Lemon shark! Everyone had a camera and a "stick" The stick is a piece of PVC pipe you hold vertically in front of you (one end planted in the sand) if you don’t want the sharks to touch you. Especailly if you get a big nosey Tiger. You NEVER hit or poke the sharks with the "stick". We were down for about 15 min when our first Tiger showed up. Jim has 3 classes of Tiger sharks. Wild, Players, and Super Models. Wild are the new commers that stay on the perimeter. Players are the ones that will come in close but not for very long, and the Super Models are the ones over time Jim has formed a kind of repore with. I think he said there are 8 Super Models in all. Emma is by far the most popular. She’s a 14 ft Tiger with her own webpage, written by her! www.emmatheshark.com
I got to meet Emma! After a short while we had 3 Tigers. Two wild and one player. Since we were right at the back of the boat and didn’t have to do a safety stop and in 20 ft of water, my first dive lasted an hour and 34 mins! We dove there until sundown. I got in 4 hour and a half dives. While seeing Tiger sharks intermittent all day we were constantly surrounded by more Lemon sharks that I could count! We did a night dive here. Joe had his big video camera with the lights so it made really cool shadows. Lots of Lemons on this dive.
Shark Tooth Ridge.....this place is pretty cool. Ed went down and set the bait boxes on the reef. They were anchored to permentant rings pounded into the reef and held up in the water by empty gallon jugs. After that was done we went down 5 at a time and settled as close to the bait as you wanted to get. We had Caribbean reef sharks here. Waaaaaay more than I could count. They kept us busy until Emma showed up! She is a big girl! All 14ft of her! Emma is such a laid back shark and the perfect ambassador for her species. She took a trip around the divers then went to Jim for some back scratching. This was awesome! We had to watch our air here since we had to do a safety stop. I headed back to the accent line with one of the other divers. One of the things Jim told us was to ALWAYS be aware of what is behind you! When I looked back I saw we were being followed by a Tiger. We reached the accent line and made our way to 15ft. The other diver was below me. The water was pretty rough that day so you didn’t hold onto the line, you let it slide in your hand or you’d be flying up and down with the boat. Things were fine for me but something startled the Tiger shark circling us and it did a little jig. All of a sudden I was totally engulfed in bubbles and was hit from below by the other diver! When the shark jerked it scared him and he grabbed onto the rope right went the boat was going up! LOL LOL He apologized profusley when we got back on board. I thought it was funy!!!! Another day of diving until sunset. I got in 3 dives that day and saw 3 different Tigers and more reefs than I could count.
Ginormous.....another cool reef. Same as before, Ed went down and set the bait. We went 5 at a time and had more Lemons with a couple Reef sharks. This is the place that I saw the Great Hammerhead. It was off in the distance and didn’t come close while I was down. 5 mins after I came up from my first dive Jim popped to the surface wanting his other camera because they had 3 Hammerheads! I could’t go back down because I was diving with just air. They were gone by the time I got back in the water. We did have 4 Tigers at once here. 1 Wild and 3 Players. I can’t beging to tell you how awesome it is to be right next to somthing that has a 2ft wide head! I got in 4 dives this day.
We spent another day at Tiger Beach/Crystal Tiger. Had 5 Tigers on one dive at the same time. The Tigers are what you watch for. The Lemon sharks are a constant. You watch and photograph them until the Tigers show up.
The last day we spent at Jumping Tiger Splashing Dragon because of the wind. It was too windy to dive. Here the crew takes pieces of fish and tie them with fishing line on a fishing pole. (no hooks, just fishing line wrapped and tied to fish parts) They cast the fish out in front of a shark and then start to reel it in real fast. The sharks chase it while trying to bite it. Those with really good camers (mine wouldn’t zoom that far) got what are called Lemon or Tiger snaps, depending on which shark is chasing. I posted one of Joe’s Tiger snaps with my pics so you can see what they look like. Pretty cool actually! We left at midnight to come home because of the 55mph hour gusts. The washing machine was waaaaay worse going back! LOL LOL
All in all, this is truely the best trip I’ve been on. Like Joe told me....this is going to be another of my "do every year trips!" I go see the Great Whites in October every year. I’ve got to go back and see the Tigers!
I got to go to Heaven and I didn’t have to die to get there!