Trip Report

March 2007 Tiger Shark Expedition

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 rigs.

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 shark shots.

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 Lemons!

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 underwater.

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 calmer.

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 dolphins.

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…and no 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 sharks.

The swim step becomes a favorite spot for photography between dives.

But the best pictures are made underwater!

Tiger sharks always look angry!

A Lemon shark goes after the bait.


Check out more DIVE ADVENTURES with Jonathan...


Need to see MORE pics from the trip? Click here!

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 fishies!

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 shows!

Mark even got a good shot of me!

Bob shooting the old school film camera!

David surrounded by sharks!

Pierre is shooting HD footage of the sharks, working on a program for Canadian TV.

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 me.

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 dusk....

A Lemon shark at night.

Bob chasing a Lemon during the golden hour.

A Tiger shark grabs the bait!

Why are they called "Tiger" sharks? Now you know.

Our vessel for the trip, the 85 foot Dolphin Dream!

A Bottlenosed dolphin performs for my camera.

A Loggerheard sea turtle at the "Sugar Wreck."

A Barracuda comes in close on a night dive at the Sugar Wreck.


Our intrepid group of sharkaholics!

Need to see MORE pics from the trip? Click here!

  Home | Photography | Assignment | Publishing | Video | Dive Adventures | CV | Contact | Site Index

Last Update 3/19/07