Tiger Beach 2017 in a Nutshell
Mind blowing! Definitely our best week ever at Tiger Beach. Six species of sharks including tiger sharks, lemon sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, nurse sharks, bull sharks and a friendly great hammerhead.
As usual, the week started at Tiger Beach Wreck – a 100+ year old anchor chain encrusted with corals and sponges. The chain is the original location of all Tiger Beach shark encounters.
Lemon sharks started arriving as soon as we dropped anchor. By the end of day one we probably had 25 lemon sharks in attendance to the delight of our excited divers. With so many lemons right next to the boat, it was a great opportunity for us to try some lemon-splits at sunset.
The next day we headed to Fish Tales (a km away). Most of the lemons followed us there so we had plenty of lemons on every dive of the trip.
The tiger action this year was typical. And by typical, I mean insanely good! We started collecting tigers at Fsh Tales very quickly. By the end of the second day we had 6 or 7 cruising around the boat. By the 3rd day we had 8+. By the end of the week, I think we likely had more but it was hard to count them with all the other sharks milling around.
Caribbean Reef Sharks
The reefies ar Fish Tales are residents so we know that we will always find 20 or 30 of them as soon as we arrive. This year was no exception!
There are always a few nurses kicking around at Fish Tails. This year we had a couple at Tiger Wreck as well. Looking back through my images, I realized that I didn’t actually photograph any this year. Its a shame because they’re cute sharks and very important predators on Caribbean/Bahamian reef systems. Anyway, here is another tiger pic 🙂
We generally get a fly-by or two on our April Tiger Beach trips. Its a great time for tigers and the weather is usually excellent, but its no ‘ideal’ for hammers because they are generally migrating north and south by then.
This year, that all changed. For the entire season, we have had a resident great hammerhead not only swimming around Fish Tales but actually coming in to feed. Having a great hammerhead mixed in with the tigers adds a very cool dynamic and makes for some brand new photo ops!
Our second surprise this year was the bull sharks. We had 5 or 6 swimming on the periphery of the shark feed at every dive at Fish Tales. Where they came from, I have no idea. Why they showed up, I haven’t a clue! All we know is that they seem comfortable among the other species so as long as no one distresses them, we’re hoping they hang around permanently.
Chances are they’ll disappear over the hot summer months and then if we’re lucky they’ll come back when it cools down in the fall. Time will tell!
With so many sharks around, we generally remove the bait boxes before anyone jumps in after dark. The sharks stay put anyway. Removing the bait stops the sharks from getting exciting and makes the night dive much safer.
This year, slipping in at dusk, we were immediately visited by tigers, bulls, lemons and the omnipresent reef sharks. I confess that I get a kick out of watching the divers nervously dropping in at night. An irrational fear of the dark combined with a very reasonable fear of sharks, puts everyone on high alert. After a few minutes, everyone calms down of course but watching their worried expressions during the initial descent always makes me chuckle – I can’t help it 🙂
An Incredible Week of Diving
Looking back on the trip, I can’t envision how it could have been any better. We even saw two pods of dolphins during the week; one pod of bottlenose dolphins and one pod of spotted dolphins. With so many sharks in the area, they didn’t stick around for photo opportunities but it was still lovely to watch them porpoise through the dive site on their way to who knows where.
Regardless of the action, the success of any trip in part comes down to the attitude of the group. Like most of our trips, we had guests with mixed experience levels. Some were pro-shooters, most had shark dived a few times before, but a couple had literally just come from their open water course! Fortunately the diving is shallow and the currents are mild at Tiger Beach so other than the fact that the sharks can get a bit friendly at times, this trip isn’t such a bad place to get comfortable in the water. Shark divers are an unpretentious bunch so it was not surprising to see the veterans welcoming the newbies.
Many thanks to our great guests and to the crew of the Dolphin Dream for making this week so much fun!
More Tiger Beach trips to look forward to
This November, Big Fish Expeditions’ trip leader Terry Steeley is leading our second Tiger Beach trip of the year. For those that want to hone their Photoshop and Lightroom skills, he will also add in some presentations during the trip. It won’t impact the diving in any way so if you’re just there for the sharks, you won’t miss a single dive.
If you’d like to join either trip, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time,
Andy is a professional photographer, author and the founder of Big Fish Expeditions
FEEDBACK FROM SOME OF THE GUESTS ON THIS YEAR’S TRIP
The two words that come to mind when I describe my first experience with Big Fish Expeditions and tiger sharks: Life Changing. Andy and his team has truly brought experiencing marine life to a forefront and provides an unforgettable experience to novices like myself, as well as to dive veterans looking for incredible underwater shots. It made such a lasting impact on me that I booked my next trip even before I left the boat! I can’t recommend them enough!
See you next year!
Shital Patel, USA
In April 2017 I did two back-to-back trips with Andy Murch to Tiger Beach in Grand Bahama and the Cat Island for the oceanic white tips.
I was really pleased with both trips and Andy did a great job of leading them – there when you needed him for advice or guidance, but never in your face… He really does know what he is doing and does it well, which is a rare combination!
Diving and photographing potentially dangerous animals like tigers, bulls and oceanics has to be done with care – both for the humans and the sharks. Andy understands that connection intuitively and manages it very well. I will definitely use Big Fish again and am really looking forward to the next adventure!
Don Silcock, Australia
The experience with Andy was the best I have ever had. Scuba diving with Great whites in the past has now failed in comparisons to what I have enjoyed with Andy and the Tiger Sharks (plus five other shark species I encountered). Big Fish Expeditions is now part of my new bucket List.
Mike Lewandowski, USA
The Tiger Beach Trip was perfect, everything went smoothly, from airline to luggage, to a good boat, great crew, good guests, good visibility, great shark action, good weather. All the stars were aligned for a great week, The trips is on my top 6 easy.
Here a video, to show this wonderful week
Seneviley Malichanh, Quebec, Canada
Thanks a lot for the photos and this amazing trip. I really enjoyed this unbelievable shark diving at tiger beach with you!
Matt Ringelhan, Germany