Tiger Beach Trip Report
Day one. November 17, 2008
This is my 10th trip out to Tiger Beach, and as the trip leader I always worry that we will have problems attracting tiger sharks. The lemon sharks have become the dominant sharks here and they are very aggressive, often keeping the tigers away from the bait and boat. When that happens, we do not have any tigers to play with... I think this place should be renamed lemon beach, but I guess it is not as catchy.
When we arrived at TB, our boat captain was upset that his normal spot was taken by another shark boat, so we had to anchor down current from him, around 200 yards or so. Normally when we get to TB the lemons show up within minutes of arrival, even without chum in the water they appear. But because the other boat was here and chumming first, the lemons were preoccupied with them. So with our normal spot taken, and no lemons, I was worried about how long it would take for us to get some shark action. I am always like that on any of our trips, but this was a different way to kick off our tiger trip.
Image by Paul Spielvogel
We did not have to wait long. The tigers showed up in full force! I was excited when I heard that we had one tiger shark under the boat, and no lemons. This was a first for me here at TB. To have tiger sharks and no lemons anywhere to be seen was crazy. I was getting geared up on the boat when I heard the news. It was a welcomed change as the lemons are always the first on the scene. It was not long before a second tiger shark showed up, then a third and then a fourth. By the end of the day we had 5 tiger sharks, and zero lemons. It was an awesome dive. I don't want to sound like I dislike lemon sharks, because I really love those sharks. But the point of this trip is to go diving with tiger sharks, so I welcomed the fact that the other boat was hoarding all the lemon sharks.
4 tigers looking for scraps... how can shark diving get any better? -Paul Spielvogel
Low tide was rolling in and the visiablilty was dropping, but no one wanted to stop diving, because we had 5 tiger sharks and they were behaving beautifully and coming in close. Without the lemons around, our gratuitous free diver Wolfgang was able to bring out some hangbaits and hand feed the "tiger babies" as he calls them. There is something so poetic and magical about watching a free diver swimming with a shark. A diver with scuba gear on interacting with a shark is not as cool looking as a free diver doing it. Wolfgang entertained us, and we were able to get some EPIC shots of him and the tigers interacting together. It was awesome.
Image by Paul Spielvogel
I had been in the water for almost 2 hours and was down to less than 500 in my tank, so I was fixing to call it a day when SDM shooter, Paul Spielvogel calls me and is waving frantically, a reef shark and a great hammerhead had just come charging in! I decided to stay until I was out of air, we are only 20 feet from the surface I can just surface and swim back to the boat if I need to. So I set off to chase the hammer around, but she did not stay for very long. However it was long enough to get some footage of her, as well as a few stills.
Image by Paul Spielvogel
The hammerhead was flying around trying to find some scraps in the sand.She was nervous, probably because of the divers as well as the very large tiger sharks in the area. The reef shark stayed wide and away from the action, as she easily could become part of the tigers menu today. I was happy that we have now seen great hammerheads here for the last 3 seasons! I hope she decides to visit us again tomorrow. Every day is different out here, and so far 'day one' has been one of the best days of shark diving I have ever experienced at Tiger Beach... I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.
Day 2, November 18, 2008.
The weather is turning foul so we may have to leave here pretty early. The other shark boat is gone, so as soon as we anchored, 10 lemon sharks rolled in. It begins... the challenge of getting tigers to stick around. We have 5 hours till low tide so we will see how today goes. I am not sure how long we will be able to stay, bad weather is headed our way.
We dropped in to over 20 lemon sharks swimming around. Lemon Beach, it should be named lemon beach. A couple of tiger sharks were popping in and out of view, but were a bit shy. We had a bait box on a float about fifty feet away from the boat, so I decided to go check it out, and sure enough a big tiger was on it trying to figure out how to cut the line to swim off with it. That is a trick the tigers have learned here. They chew the ropes that are attachd to the crates, cut the line, then grab the box and swim off with it- where they will crush it, and get to the bait inside. The line on the crate was wire so the shark was not able to cut it. It hung around for 10 minutes then decided to swim off. The rest of the dive was fun, lemons of course dominating the dive, but the tigers were consistent and we were able to film them and get some pretty natural history shots as well as a few interaction shots.
This is a cool shot of a lemon
Yesterday the tigers were amazing players, and it spoiled everyone. Today they were a bit shy and reluctant to stick around for very long. They would come in, but they did not come in for very long. They did hang around for over 5-6 hours so it was a good day of diving-but after yesterday, everyone was a bit disappointed. I tell you when TB is on, it is the greatest shark dive in the world. Today would be considered a good day of diving, if we did not have yesterday's dive to compare it with.
One of our guests, Gabriel, owner of SquidInk apparel has been to TB a couple of times before, this was his 3rd trip, and his first trip out here with me. He told me that his dive yesterday was better than all the diving on both his previous trips - combined, that was cool to hear. The weather is turning foul so we are forced to leave TB and lee up behind one of the banks. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
No great hammerhead today...
November 19, 2008
The bad weather set in and we could not dive TB. The visablility was the color of milk so we decided to go diving else where. Captain Scott decided to try a reef dive. We had hoped to see some tigers or hammers there, but we ended up spending our only dive of the day with reef sharks.
It was fun, reef sharks are always cool sharks to hang with. It was big change from the lemons and tigers our group had been spending time with. Reef sharks move so much faster than their bigger cousins, so the few divers that had never seen these sharks before were blown away by the speed of these sharks-zippy litle buggers. Gabrield has spent a lot of time over at Stuart Coves place, diving with the reef sharks around there, and all the sharks there are pretty big. So he was excited about seeing all the little guys here. There was one shark that was less than a year old, and only a couple of feet long, cute little thing.
Jaime with a reef shark
You know I have not even introduced this group yet. As always I love my job, and it is always cool meeting new people from different walks of life, and different countries as well...Lets see;
Makoto is from Japan.
Rick and Paula are from London
Wolf is from Bolivia
Sir Jupp is from Germany (he is a Baron)
Jaime is from Spain.
Jim, Paul, Marty, Carolyn and Gabriel are from the states
This really is a good group of people and it has been a fun week. The weather continues to be a problem, and I wish we had more dive time, but we are making the most of it, and where ever we go, the shark action is good. I just hope tomorrow will be better.
Still no hammers...
November 20, 2008
We woke up to clear skies and no wind, so the captain took us back to Tiger Beach. When we arrived the lemons swam up to the boat to greet us. The vis was really good, so we jumped right in, and as the day progressed, the visability just got better and better. The lemons were around in their regular numbers, but it did not take long before a couple of tiger sharks showed up to join the dive.
One of the tigers was a monster, she was at least 13 feet long, and easily 1,200 pounds. The best thing about this shark was she was a player, and she stayed with us all day. She spent most of her time chewing on the bait box, trying to figure out how to get to the food inside. The other tiger stayed all day as well, but she was extremly shy and was content with just hanging around the outskirts, popping in and out of view.
Wolfgang our freediver was very happy that he had a nice sized tiger to play with, she did not mind him dropping in to say hello. Wolfgang is a tiger shark adict, and is miserable when there are no tigers to play with. After 2 days of ok diving, I was worried that we were not going to be able to repeat the excitement from the first day, but today was a great day. The sharks were amazing, the vis was really good, and the sun was out, giving the shooters on the trip plenty of natural light to work with.
We spent a lot of time in the water today, and today everyone understood what I meant when I said that at TB when we dive, it is 'shark sessions', not scheduled dives. Here you jump in and dive as long as your tank will allow you too. Then you come up, fill your tank and dive again. Makoto dove for over 6 hours today, he spent 2 1/2 hours each time he jumped in the water. He was really happy. At the end of the day, everyone was spent and it was difficult to get divers to try the night dive. The wind had picked up, and the wetsuits were cold and wet. But seeing how tomorrow is our last day of diving, and with the weather acting funny, and the captain still not 100% sure we will be able to get in, we did have a few takers for this dive.
We cheered them on and toasted their good diving fortune with beers in our hands. In fact we had a beer party tonight, and everyone joined in on the fun, including the crew. This is a good group of well travelled people who really love sharks and good times... ya gotta love it.
Marty decided the party needed a pole dancer, and since we had no takers, he decided to do it himself.
Today was a good day!
November 21, 2008
Todays diving was pretty tame. We were forced to leave Tiger Beach yet again due to the bad weather. But we were able to find a spot around 3/4 of a mile away where the water was better and the visability was good. The lemons were here, but the tigers were a no show. No one cared, everyone was in the water having a good time,. we were all still on yesterdays shark high, so getting to dive today with sharks was just a bonus really. No one was really in a hurry to jump in, everyone was laughing and having a good time, even Wolfgang, who was pretty intense when it came to wanting to see tigers, was relaxed and happy. He was in the water with the tigers for over 7 hours straight yesterday.
Makoto with a tiger- this is why we keep going back, year after year!
This is the part of my job that I love, all our readers had a great time, everyone enjoyed themselves and the shark action was again EPIC... thanks again to everyone who joined me on this adventure, and to the Captain and crew of the Shark Chaser I
I am really going to have to step it up for our December trip!!!
To read the December 2008 trip report click here.
If you would like to learn more about our 2009 trips... click here.