SDM JOURNAL FOR...
January 30, 2009
I am getting ready to leave to Mexico to document the bull shark migration in Playa Carmen. On Friday I spoke to legendary shark diver Gary Adkison. He called me to say hi, and to see what we were up to. I got him up to speed with all our projects and the mag and such. Gary then told me he was headed up to Fiji to do some more work with the bull sharks up there. They have been sat tagging and tracking the movements of the bulls up there to try and find out what they are doing and where they are going. I then told Gary about the bulls I was going to dive with in Playa Carmen, Mexico and he was on fire with excitement. Another population of bull sharks that he could tag and study. He started asking me a bunch of questions, and I tried to answer as many of them that I knew. Long story short, when I am in Mexico I will be emailing him information about the bulls in Mexico, and he will be emailing me from Fiji. He will be up there with Ron and Valerie Taylor, Doug Seifert (a very good shark photographer) and Juerg, (bull shark researcher) and the Fiji dive crew. So it is going to be a fun email trade knowing all those greats are hanging around shooting questions and advice for me and the bulls in MX. Sometimes I just love my job!
January 26, 2009
The first shark trip of the season is finally upon me. I am going to miss my target goal of going shark diving every month, but that is the whole point of setting high goals. If I try to go shark diving every month, and I fail, and end up going shark diving 10 months instead of 12 - I still win! Anyway, my first trip will happen in early February, I am headed to Mexico for the bull shark migration. I am headed that way for 2 reasons, the first is that I was invited to help evaluate the bull shark dive and aid in creating a safe shark interaction program for the shark operators, and I am stoked about that.
The second is to go film the bulls! I have not been on a bull shark dive since 2004 when I went to Fiji. I have seen bulls since then, (I ran into a couple at TB) but I have not been on a dive where bulls were the animals I was targeting. They see an average of 10 bull sharks on this dive, so it will be a great opportunity to see what it is all about. Looking forward to filming it. I will be joining my buddy Gerardo out there to see the action.
So after evaluating the dive, and if it's everything I hope it will be, it will be added to our travel itnerary for 2010.
Because this a land based adventure, I will be able to blog and post photos everyday that I am there. So keep checking the blog to see what is going on down south.
January 13, 2009
Today is a great day! It started out with news that my daughter turned 3! It is personal great news, I know...but isn't all great news judged on a personal scale? Ok, back to why it is a great day... today I recieved word that Bimini Island, in the Bahamas has just created a shark free marina. Which means that fishermen will not be allowed to dock their boats if they have hooked and killed a shark! The hope is to encourage catch and release for the fisherman. This is the first marina of its kind to do this...and hopefully the start of an exciting trend.
Ok, on to some shark conservation action issues; About a week ago, I was visiting my local grocery store, HEB, and upon passing the frozen fish food area I happened upon a blacktip shark sitting on ice. Apparently someone ordered shark, and had yet to pick it up. They thought it would excite the customers to see a shark in the fish market. They were right! But they excited the wrong customer.
I was very bothered by this and contact the corporate office, politely asking them to discontinue selling all shark products. They replied with this email response;
Dear Mr. Martinez:
Hello and thank you for contacting us at our H-E-B Web Site. We always appreciate hearing from our Friends and Customers. Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding H-E-B carrying Shark in our stores. I will share this information with others in management for further review.
H-E-B is proud to serve you as our Customer and we will look forward to all future opportunities we may have to serve you. We genuinely value your comments and your business. As we strive to deliver superior Customer Service, we encourage you to continue letting us know how we can serve you better.
Customer Relations Specialist
H-E-B Grocery Company
This was a diplomatic, we will think about it, and get back to you... maybe! type of email response, and my guess is they thought I would go away, but they were wrong. I gave them a chance to do the right thing, but so far they have not done the right thing. And (for me) the right thing to do is to continue voicing my opinion till we get the results, OUR earth and OUR oceans need!
HEB is a HUGE grocery outfit in Texas and growing internationally, with corporate offices in San Antonio, shark product sales are less than 1% of their fish product revenue, it would mean nothing to their bottom line if they removed it. For a company that makes millions in profits each year (which they deserve) this gesture of good will to the earth and ocean would mean more for their PR than any budgeted ad campaign...
My goal this year is to get them to stop selling shark products. I have included their information so if you all feel like aiding in this quest to have them stop selling shark steaks, please join in with some FRIENDLY emails, and phone calls PLEASE! Sugar will make more honey, then salt will. As the saying goes.
January 9, 2009
I am really having fun with this Making the Mag
blog, I get to talk about all my friends who are contributing to our magazine, showing you all images of them in action, it's awesome.
I just spoke to Rusty and Steve about our movie Summer of the Sharks. . We spent the last few months screeing the film with different audiences and we went through it for one big final edit. Summer of the sharks has gone through so many changes and I am happy to say that it is done. My goal was to make a film that people would love to see over and over again. When you finish your film, you hope you did just that, but it is hard to tell until we get it out there and into the audiences hands. We are almost at that point. I still do not have the official release date, but I can tell you right now it is coming soon!
Have a good weekend everyone...
January 8, 2009
Work has already begun on issue # 20. I am not going to give too much detail about it here because I have started a new blog page called Making the Mag. This is a behind the scenes look at the people and stories behind the issue. I know some of the contributors very, very well, and I have shared shark diving adventures with them. So to really get a feel for the heart of Shark Diver magazine, I decided to start this behind the scenes page for that reason.
I know a lot of you out there love this magazine, but you're only getting half the story... the other half is the people who brought you the adventure and live this life we all love and admire. Now I know I said that reading those blogs will ruin the new issue for you, well it will if you like to be totally surprised by the articles and images, but in reality reading the behind the scenes of making an issue of SDM, I believe will give you a great appreciation for each issue, because here you will learn more about the people who are bringing you ethe stories, and you will learn more about some of the things they have done with their lives.
I'll give you an example, yesterday I was trading emails with my good friend Tyler Ham. Tyler wrote the article "Island Time" in issue # 19 of SDM. Tyler started out as a subscriber, then later joined us on a shark diving adventure in 2007 (mako sharks). We became good friends, and somewhere in there he ended up helping us with our film Summer of the Sharks, now he ie a contributing writer for SDM. We have gotten to be very good friends, and well here it is in his own words...
" I love what you did with my article in issue 19! I cant tell you how awesome it feels to have gone from being a reader of your magazine, to getting to know you, and helping on your film, and now actually PUBLISHED! Its a rush!" -Tyler
Tyler Ham and his beautiful fiance Courtney. He is wearing his Indiana Jones hat, but anyone who worked on that film deserves to wear it.
I just love that...Tyler was working for Lucas Studios, which is owned by George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars... you know, that film guy. Anyway, Tyler worked on many of Lucas Studios (ILM) monster budget films, like; Transformers, Indiana Jones 4, All the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and so on. Then he helped us out on our film...Summer of the Sharks. I am just glad I was able to help out his movie making career. Maybe now he can go on to bigger projects!
Anyway, earlier this year Tyler and his fiance Courtney "C" decided to quit their jobs, sell almost everything they own, and backpack around Europe for a few months. They had amazing adventures, visiting some historic places...but decided it was time to come home and get back into the work force for a while. Both Tyler and C are in the movie industry, and C came home to work on the next Jerry Bruckheimer film, while Tyler is still figuring out what he wants to do... Its a rough life
So anyway check out the new blog, "Making the Mag," more stories about the writers and contributors will be in there as well!
January 5, 2009
Damn, I love writing the words 2009. It just sounds so good, it has a good feel to it. Maybe its the fact that a full year of shark diving is ahead of us? Don't know, just like it. Today is my first full day back in the office and it is time to get serious about all my upcoming plans for the year. As I promised in my new year resolution - I am going to publish SDM on a more timely schedule, so that being said, I will start by advertising for you the dealines for the upcoming 09 issues. So here it goes as follows...
As you all may know we publish 3 issues a year and that being said here is what is planned;
-Issue 20 will begin shipping the first week of March, 09'
-Issue 21 will begin shipping the first week of June, 09'
-Issue 22 will begin shipping the first week of October, 09
Please note; Issue 19 has been shipped out, so if you haven't recieved your mag, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will fix any problems. We are still running on a crappy system, and the good subscription software is way out of budget, so please let me know and I will get you your missing issues.
So there it is the first time I have ever advertised our print schedule for the world to see
If you all did not notice the thing thats unique about our print schedule, then let me share this with you; I have purposely avoided any mag work during the summer months. That my friends is the heart of the shark diving season, and we are gone during that time of year... SDM staff, and our travelling SDm writers... so expect slow mag service during the shark diving season, especially in July, because we are totally off the radar then. The shark season is our busy time, and I hope yours too? This is when we go out and get new stories and images for the magazine, as well as stories for our online blog material. So please bare with us.
I am also doing something different for issue 20. I am starting a blog page for the making of the mag. This is going to be a behind the scenes look at what it takes to put together an issue of SDM. I will be posting pics that will be in the magazine, and the type of stories we are publishing in that particular issue; so if you like being surprised when you open up the brown paper envelope, then do not read those blog pages because you will not be happy as I will ruin much of it for you. When I am done with that particular issue, those blogs will go filed away in the back issue portion of the mag, so later when people are interested in that particular issue, they will have the full story.
I am telling you, 2009 is going to be a full, super busy, and fun ass year! I can't wait to run into you all on the road somewhere. Adventures, having fun, and protecting sharks is my priority for 2009.
Speaking of adventures I kicked off 2009 with my first adventure of the year. It has nothing to do with sharks but it was so much fun, so I am going to share it with you. So if your only here for shark stuff, might as well click off, because this is a four legged warm blooded type of adventure... I went on a photo safari to film deer and alligators on a huge hunting ranch in Kingsville Texas, with my future brother in law, AJ Moore. He is a professional hunting guide and works on a huge game ranch in Texas.
Trying to film wild deer, and javalinas was fun. The animals here are used to being fed corn, which makes it easier for paying customers to shoot them, (which sucks), but for someone on a photo shoot it makes for amazing close up encounters. I know it is not a natural encounter, but it was still so very cool. It is sort of like chumming, but for deer - so I approve!
My most exciting moment while filming deer was when I jumped off our game truck to try and get a close up, 'in your face' shot of a big buck. Getting close to sharks is one thing, but when trying to do it to a wild animal with large horns is another. The buck was irritated that I was there, and was snorting and stamping his hoof, letting me know he was pissed. I was not sure whether to push further, so when I was about 20 feet from him, I stopped, knealed and tried to zoom in and get a steady shot. Which is not easy when your not sure if your going to need to run or climb a tree, as the truck was too far for me to run too. So my only option was to run into the bush for protection if the buck charged, which was thick and full of stickers, so that was not something I was looking forward too. Of course the chances of it charging were pretty low, but with wild animals you never know. And since these animals only contact with humans involves them running for their lives because someone is trying to kill them - you really never know.
Yup, thats me wearing camoflauge. Hey in the ocean I wear A wet suit, but in the bush... you get the idea.
The game truck we used to find the animals... it's an awesome truck.
A javalina, which looks like a small hairy pig but its not.
We also filmed javalinas, which look like hairy little pigs, but they are not pigs. They are hot tempered like wild pigs though and have been known to chase hunters up trees when surprised or if they feel threatened. I had an amazing opportunity to film a group of them feeding together towards dusk. The game truck we use is also used to drop corn onto the road, and the deer and javalinas know this and come out of the bush to feed. So I dropped onto the road and began filming as a group of about 15-20 javalinas start feeding. They all start moving towards me and AJ (he is acting as my safety man here) The javalinas get to around 3-4 feet from me - when AJ decides to stand up, and the javalinas all took off like a shot. I tried to film them running away, but I admit, I flinched and ruined half of the shot of them running away. Hey it was my first time filming them. I laughed my ass off... I can't wait for my next opportunity.
AJ had been telling me that he had a lake on the ranch with alligators. I believed him but I was still a bit skeptical about it. I mean we are in deep South Texas, and when you think of gators you think of the swamps in Florida. We get to the lake and oh shit, there were some huge gators laying on the bank. 6 large gators lay close together and they were big. One was an easy 8-9 feet long and had plenty of girth to it. I was blown away.
Image by Crissy Martinez
I had always expressed an interest in diving with gators, and the stuff Manny Puig does up in Florida made it always seem possible. But here in this lake that is cut off from everything else, there are a shit load of them. One summer day in 08, AJ counted 90 gators basking in the sun. Today in the water I counted at least 20. It was awesome, and I can see the potential. I still want to jump in the water with them, but I will take my time before I do, and study what I am attempting to do. With gators your room for error is zero, like it is with sharks, but gators are maneaters unlike sharks. I am going to go back to film them... there was a female with eggs and I want to be there when they hatch. plus it would be cool to get some charging shots of a mother gator in HD!
My brother in law AJ Moore, and me at "gator lake" in Texas...Image by Crissy Martinez
January 2, 2009
Happy New Year Everyone! Today is my first day back in the office and I kicked off the year with a quick newsletter welcoming everyone into the new year and trying to push people to set some goals for themselves. Not to sound like a broken record here but you really do need to do this. It is important that you make some kind of goals for yourself... whether it be fitness goals, or travel goals...especially travel goals! Now is a good time to decide that you will go somewhere in 2009. Right now! Because if you decide here in January that you want to go to Cocos, or Guadalupe or Tiger Beach, or Africa... Your chances of getting there are extremely high because you have been planning it all year.
I have set a bunch of goals for myself, maybe too many goals. But the more goals I set the better the chances of more than half of them coming true. And if they do come true, then my 2009 year is going to be amazing.
Here are a few of the goals I have set for myself.
-Go shark diving every month this year.
-Do more hands on conservation work to help save sharks
-Set a more timely schedule for the release of each issue of SDM
-Volunteer more of my time to my city and local beaches
To give back as much as possible is my personal theme for 2009. I am especially going to do more to help save sharks. So I was asking myself how? How can I make a dent in the survival of sharks? There are already huge conservation groups campaigning about the world wide shark populations, which is great. There are online email campaigns going on, which is great. The Shark Group just announced their "2009 Year of the Shark" which is great. But I want to try and do things to help save sharks on a more personal level.
In 2008 we organized an expedition to tag the first porbeagle sharks in the Bay of Fundy, 14 plus sharks were tagged, 2 with sat tags. The Canadian Shark Conservation Society has begun collecting information about these sharks and hopefully they will be able to create some legislation to protect these endangered sharks. That was such a rush for me to know that we were part of a physical effort to help save sharks. And since I am a more hands on kind of person, and email efforts are just not my thing, I decided to try and push for more shark protection in my own neck of the woods.
My goal is to help save sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, starting here on South Padre Island, Texas. There is an area in the Bay that I know is a pupping ground for scalloped hammerheads and blacktips. My goal, with the help of a couple budding Marine Biologists, is to prove that it is in fact a pupping ground and should be protected. I am also going to become more vocal about protecting the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary, which is supposed to be protected, but commercial fishermen are raping the park. Now with the local dive operator leaving the area for Florida (due to the moody Gulf waters) the park is open for them to attack it more frequently.
So there it is, my basic sharky plans for 2009 are laid out for you all. It is ambitious, but like I said, if I can achieve half of it, then it will be a great year indeed.