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June 2, 2008 I am at the airport on my way home from our bull shark shoot. Was having trouble logging on to the web, so I couldn't update the day to day activities. However, I am not really sure how much info I would be able to blog, as the producer kept us pretty busy. The shoot was fast, and the diving was amazing. Unfortunately we were only able to spend one day in the water, but my buddy John came through for us and took us out to some great spots, where we had duskies, bulls, and a fly bye by both a great hammerhead and a nurse shark. I wish I had more time to dive these spots because these are some very sharky spots... About to board the plane so more about the trip later.
May 28, 2008 I picked up my next assignment for National Geographic Television. I am heading out with my good friends, Nat Geo shooters, Andy Mitchell, and Andy 'ABC' Casagrande, to film bull sharks in Florida. This is a killer assignment, not only do I get to film bull sharks, but I get to do it with a bunch of my friends.
We had a bull shark visit us at Tiger Beach, it is the only time I have ever seen a bull there.
When we first began talking about this project, they asked me if I knew anyone in Florida who could take us out to find sharks. Of course chumming for sharks in Florida is illegal, so we can't bring them up the traditional way. And I would NEVER do anything illegal, like chumming for sharks! That would be wrong. Unfortunately, Nat Geo thinks its wrong also, so to find them, we hit up the next best thing to guarantee finding sharks in Florida, the fishermen.
I know these are not Florida bull shark pics, but I do not have those yet... Soon.
My good friend, John Dickson is an avid spearfisherman, and when he and his buddies hunt, they always come across sharks, especially bull sharks. He has been inviting me up to Florida for years to go sharkin with him, of course my schedule never allowed for an opportunity, but that is where this story, and my next shark adventure begins.
I called up John and asked him if he could take me and the Nat Geo film crew out to find bull sharks, he said "no problem, it sounds like fun." John is a nice guy, and the last time we were together was in Holbox for whale sharks. John and his son John Jr., went out with us, back in 2006. They are a cool father-son team, and we nicknamed them, the John-Johns.
This is me with the John-Johns on Holbox Island, at a barbeque party we threw
We joked back and forth for years about heading out in Johns boat, 'Shark Tales,' in search of EPIC adventures, on what we would call the John-John, Tour. We never did get to head out on that adventure, but we kept in touch. So when this shoot for Nat Geo came up, I contacted John right away.
So far details of the shoot are sketchy, but as of right now, I know we are renting a beach house for our HQ, and we will be spending the days shooting sharks, and the nights, talking shark, drinking beer, while filming at some of the areas, flavorful Hot Spots. Sounds like hard work, but I will keep you posted on how the shoot goes. And as always, I will keep a journal about it, and let you all know what we saw while we were out there Chasing Sharks.
May 22, 2008
Mag updates... I have been working on the new issue for a couple of weeks now. I get interupted due to our film projects but have been jumping back and forth as often as I can. Some more new species will be introduced in this issue. Plus more cool interviews with industry folks. I also got an email from our distributor Ingram Periodicals, that Barnes and Nobles, our largest US retail book store is going to put us on the racks of 127 of their stores, which is very cool news. So if you have a Barnes and Nobles in your area and they do not carry our mag, ask them to pick us up.
Oh yea, I mentioned in an earlier blog that we were going to increase the page count up to 56 pages, well I am sorry but I am going to have to keep us at 48 for the next couple of issues. Budget and time have kept us from increasing it. But as always I am going to make sure that what you all get, you will love.
Raf filming dusky sharks in Venice, LA during our 'Summer of the Sharks.'
I spoke with Rusty, our film director, this morning about our movie 'Summer of the Sharks.' He is rendering the film to show me the latest cut tomorrow morning. The film is down to small cuts here and there now, which is great, its something that I thought would never get here. Because your staring at the same footage over and over again, it sometimes feels endless.
Setting up lighting for my formal interview at the Houston Aquarium Restaurant
My interview about the mag and this road trip with Rusty behind the lense
But it is almost done, and will be ready for the Film Festivals this year. So we won't be cutting it to DVD anytime soon, as it needs to hit the festival circuit first. Of course our readers will get to see it on our shark diving trips this summer before anyone else does, so I hope you all can make it, or at least show up on our movie night if possible.
May 19, 2008 I watched a new cut of our movie 'Summer of the Sharks' this Friday, and I am pumped up. This movie project is nearing the end of post production and is almost ready for an audience. We are 3-4 more small edits away from picture lock, and we will be moving into final music score, sound effects, graphics then color correction.
This is where Rusty spent all his time in the RV, during the film shoot -on his bed, running through footage
On the back of boat on a shark trip where the team originally met, Eli, Andy and Raf
Part of the adventure each day was for us to spend some time diary caming our experience. Andy's turn
We want this movie to appeal to everyone and not just Shark Divers, so there is a fine line, and we are flirtng with it. But with the shark action in this movie, Shark Divers are going to love it, and I think the public will also. Of course we will officially find that out, right after our 1st public screening. We are holding a local public screening for this to get some input into the film in a few weeks. Of course, everyone who is joining us for our shark trips this year will also get to watch the movie. I am screening it in Holbox, and in North Carolina, Canada and in California as well. So you all will get a sneak peak at the movie way before the DVD release.
Here I am feeding sharks in St Maarten- this did not make it into the movie, left on the cutting room floor
Talks have already begun about our next movie project that we begin filming later this year with the new XD cams. This is a story that I have had in my head for a while. I first thought it would make a great TV show, but after showing it to a well respected TV filmmaker, he suggested that I make it a movie. So after some serious thought and a few phone calls back and forth between my SOTS film director and editor, Rusty Armstrong, I have decided to move forward with this and make this our second film. This one will not take as long as our first movie to make... I hope.
More on this project later.
May 14, 2008 The sharks win one!
Thanks to everyone who pitched a hand in helping out with this project. It just goes to show you what the voice of a few people can do, and some good folks who are willing to make some chages when they understand that what they are doing is effecting the world. A huge thanks goes out to Tom of Amphibious Warrior Scuba Wear for bringing this issue to light, the people who contacted the restaurant, and the owners of the restaurant for caring enough to make a change... here is the email they sent in response to the action emails.
My name is Zak, and my family owns The Olympic Tavern.
First off, shark is no longer on the menu. Really, it never was on the menu; it was a weekly special, of which we only purchased a few portions. Nonetheless, shark is off the menu.
I've spent many memorable family vacations at the beach. I share your concerns for our ocean wildlife, so I was disappointed to read that one of our chefs ran a special shark entree last weekend. I have talked with the executive chef and the owner, and we have decided to move forward with an eco-friendly seafood program, according to the ..Environmental Defense webpage.., using sustainable seafood wherever possible. I can't promise that this will happen overnight, but I assure you that we will be working with our suppliers to obtain the best quality products that are also good choices for our oceans.
I dig enthusiasm, but in the future, I would appreciate if you would contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have concerns.
Please offer Zak and his family a warm thank you email for his enlightened business decision.
Sharks win one today!
May 13, 2008 Hey here is an ACTION ITEM. My buddy Tom, owner of Amphibious Warrior Scuba Wear has found a restaurant in his home town that is serving shark meat...The Olympic Tavern in Rockford Illinois Is serving up 'Line caught Thresher Shark'. Please give them a call or send them an email to convince them not to serve this or any other kind of shark
Please be respectful, good Karma always works better!
These are the kind of action items that we can do as shark enthusiasts that can help to make a difference. One restaurant, one store, one market at a time... then the numbers will grow and hopefully one day, sharks will be left alone.
Please write that email, or make that call...
For the Sharks!
May 12, 2008 I got an email this weekend from a pissed off reader. He was mad at me because I posted that funny video of a guy tow in surfing off of a hooked great white shark. My guess is he thought the shark was real. I sent him an email letting him know that the shark was not real and that this was just a fun and creative video by some clever and bored filmmakers. So I am posting this just in case there is anyone out there who also believe that the video is really a shark towing in a guy.
I am pretty sure that won't be the last piece of hate mail I receive, because I am going to post all internet news that involves sharks, even the crap. And there is so much crap out there also. Sharks are so miss understood, and they need our help, and for us to truly get a better understanding about them, I think that we should hear everything that is said about them. Lets find out what the world believes, and thinks.
Here is a video from my good friend Brian Cleveland and our November 2007 Tiger Beach trip. We had to cut it into a 2 parts because it was too long for one clip. But this is what the shark action is like in the Bahamas... enjoy!
May 9, 2008 Yesterday I spent the afternoon doing another presentation for a Jr High school. It was 5 classes with around 50 kids each, so I spoke to about 250 kids, all between the ages of 12-15 years old. This was for a career day, and the main focus was to talk to them about what I do for a living, I guess the idea is to show the kids there are options out in the real world. I enjoyed it, I like working with kids. And even though the topic was careers, I still talked about sharks and the serious threats they face.
The problem is that even with all the technology, and all this information at our fingertips, people do not know anything about sharks. The first question I ask right after I introduce myself is, does everyone know what a shark is? Some of the kids give me that look like of course we know what a shark is, we are not stupid, and your stupid for asking. Then I'll ask them, "are sharks, fish or mammals?" Out of those 250 kids, maybe 60-80 of them all thought sharks were mammals. Which tells me, if they do not know what a shark is, then they do not know why we have sharks, how important sharks are, and that they are facing a global extinction.
The teachers will often sit there looking at me with surprise when I go through my talks, because they are learning as well. So if our educators are getting educated, when the kids are getting educated then we as shark advocates really have our work cut out for us. I have already started on the PDF I will be posting for you all to download. This is going to be the talk I recommend for you to use as a reference to offer presentations at schools in your home towns. I have been giving presentations for over 5 years now and after many trial and error situations, I found out exactly what works, what to say, and what not to say... oh yea!, parents and teachers do not like when you say stingrays do not bite, if they attach to your skin, they will just leave you with a big hicky. - just some friendly advice.
I finally have written down what I feel works the best, now I just need to type it up. I will keep you posted on that.
Have a good weekend!
May 7, 2008 Story plans and photo choices for issue 18 is in full force right now. I have decided to increase SDM an additional 8 pages so be ready for a few more cool stories and photos to check out. Andy Murch,our traveling SDM shooter sent in his stories yesterday, and they are good. Greenland sharks from Canada, and a blind shark story from Australia
One of Toms shots. Sandtiger shark, taken at the Florida Aquarium
I also decided on the cover for that issue 18 as well. I emailed the shooter, Tom Burns to let him know his image made the next cover. He was thrilled to find out he finally made the cover of SDM. His email to me got me all fired up about getting this next issue up and going. There is such a thrill in the creative process and I love creating things that people love, and when someone lets me know how thrilled they are about the upcoming issue of SDM before it comes out, that gets me all fired up to get to work and crank it out as fast as I can, while still keeping it cool and edgy.
May 6, 2008 I have been thinking about this year and our upcoming shark trips, and I am fired up about the adventures that I will be setting off on. I am excited that many of you all will be joining me out there also. A couple of people will be traveling with me on almost all the trips including my buddy Andy 'ABC' Casagrande, a National Geographic shooter. ABC is one of these guys that makes you feel like your standing still through life. No matter what you are doing, or where you have been, it is hard to match this guy for 'been there, done that.'
ABC filming cobras for Nat Geo., 3 weeks in India
ABC filming lions in Africa, living out of a safari truck for a 3 month shoot
When you think of the life that a National Geographic shooter lives, ABC is the mold. Every so often I get emails from him, from somewhere around the world, giving me updates as to where he has been and what he is doing. He just got back from Costa Rica shooting Army Ants for Nat Geo's Migration series, and has taken the summer off to hang out and slow down for a bit. Of course that slow down entails joining me for our crazy Reader trip shark diving tour this year.
I'll see you out there!
May 5, 2008 On Friday I gave a shark presentation to about 70 3rd and 4th grade school children. This was my first presentaion of the year and damn it was fun, school kids are great. I have a routine I go through when I get to a school and make a presentation. I always pass out magazines to all the kids, then I set up my collection of teeth and jaws (all donated to the cause) and begin my talks. At this school the teachers were worried that if I passed out the magazines the kids would not listen to the presentation. I told them not to worry, because once I start talking sharks, the kids are all eyes and ears. I always make these presentations very interactive, and the kids all get involved.
We went through an hour long presentation and when I finally called out for one more question from the kids before I stopped - there was still 20 hands in the air, wanting to ask more questions. I love that shit. These shark presentations are so important, and I can not stress how much we all need to get involved and get active telling everyone who will listen the sharks story. I know I said I was going to put together an online shark presentation for everyone to download, and I did not do it yet. I am sorry about that, trying to keep up with everything at SDM does pay a heavy tax on my time. But I promise to get something done and online as soon as possible. For sure before summer kicks in, because thats when all the libraries set up their summer reader programs for the kids. That is always a great time to offer up your talks.
May 1, 2008 Damn time flies. It is already May, 5 months into the new year. Which means we are 2 months away from kicking off our Reader shark trips this year. Our porbeagle trip is sold out, as well as both our whale shark trips. We still have room on our sandtiger trip, and only a couple of spots left on our mako shark trip. So if you want to join us, let me know.
I got an email from my good friend Nathan Meadows yesterday. Nathan is a writer/contributor to SDM and is coming out with an article in the next issue about his encounter with scalloped hammerheads in the Gulf of Mexico with my buddy Captain Al Walker. They went out and within five minutes had 4 hammers show up to play. Nathans had hammers bumping his camera's domeport, plenty of in your face action. All this on snorkel. On scuba these sharks would of never come around that close, but on snorkel the sharks were curious and aggressive.
Divers will spend thousands of dollars for rebreather equipment and training for an opportunity to get close to scallops but with a 10 dollar snorkel you can get some amazing footage, with great natural light. And I know that rebreather equipment has its place, such as staying down longer, breathing warm air, as opposed to the dry hacking cough of regular air, as well as the silence. But with all that added gear, you also have more things to watch for and monitor, you know to keep from dying down there. So besides trying to compose your shot, watch your subject and possible other subject swimming along, you also have to watch a bunch of gauges. So snorkeling anf free diving has always been more of an appeal to me. I am sure I will be hitting the rebreather trail when I go after smalltooth sandtigers, but until then, a $10 dollar snorkel will do.
I am always reminded of the old rule... keep it simple!