Shark Diving The Bahamas with Hollywood Divers

Hollywood Divers Shark Trips
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IMG_8741Trip Report: Bahamas and Bimini Bahamas aboard the live Aboard Dive Boat Dolphin Dream.

Mid March 2016

This was a Shark Diving Combo Trip, the goal was to see Tiger Sharks at Tiger Beach / No Cage. Then Move the Boat from the Tiger Beach Area to Bimini. 8 hours away from Tiger Beach. The second location is known for the Great Hammerhead Shark. / No Cage.

The Dolphin Dream Dive Boat is Originally known for it’s Wild Dolphin Snorkeling Tours of the Same Region. See their Website here. Dolphin Dream Team

Fly into Miami / Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale. The Dolphin Dream Boat is Docked in the Palm Beach Port. This Port is Currently Under Renovation. Some Cruise Ships and Dinner Cruises board from here. If you are looking for something to do Pre-trip, You could take a ride on a Pirate cruise over to Peanut Island.

Many Activities nearby The Port of Palm Beach include Golf, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling and the Usual Beach Play. The air temperature on our night of arrival at the Dolphin Dream Boat was 60 Degrees as a cold front moved through the area. The Cold Front quickly disintegrated and returned to it’s coveted 78 Degree, Sun Cloaked, Florida, Balminess.

We enjoyed a lovely Dinner at the dock first and all gear was loaded aboard. We headed out overnight and as we became seaward bound we retired to our bunks for the night crossing to the Bahamas. We arrived the next morning to legally enter the Bahamas. Although we don’t disembark, we are still required to have our Passports as we are diving in Bahamian waters for the entire trip.

After the Passports have been approved, we motor to Tiger Beach for a Check out Dive. Tiger Beach is really shallow. It is only 20 feet deep with sand as white as snow. Not a reef to be had in this immediate area but Don’t worry you won’t be bored. The Sharks will keep you busy.

IMG_8165
The Dolphin Dream Dive Boat Team working their magic.

The “Dolphin Dream Team” as they are known in some circles, went to work attracting sharks. The First Species to show up were the Lemon Sharks.

Lemons look Menacing, are slightly larger than some of the other species that you may see but don’t seem to be very interested in you, “The Diver”. They Come Close, make calculated moves and after the initial shock of seeing that many sharks in one area subsides, you will be snapping those wide angle pictures for at least an hour.

My first dive time on the trip was 88 Minutes and my buddy, Local L.A. Underwater Photographer, Mark Tarczynski and I had un-removable smiles when we came up from the dive. This was due to the numbers of sharks and the willingness of the critters to give us what we wanted. Teeth in Close Proximity.

That was also my first time ever descending into a swirl of large sharks under the boat with no cage !

I was right behind Mark as he assured me I wouldn’t get so much as a scratch. Even though the sharks came toward me, they would always turn and go by. Repetitive mask flooding laughs into my breathing regulator occurred on the first day, because of all the Lemon shark action.  It was Supercharged, Top Fuel, Shark Racing . The Lemon Sharks are fast and active. They move around the bait and you at high speed.

Shark Diving in this manner seems like one of the most insane recreational activities, but in statistical perspective, it’s much safer than driving in Los Angeles.

I would choose swimming with these sharks as a safer and more fun experience when compared to all of the distracted automobile drivers these days. The sharks did not give a care about me. I felt safe and happy.

During that same day, I saw another Species of Shark of which I have seen many on occasion. Reef Sharks.

A little Smaller, but fast and crafty. They have Beautiful Color in their skin and the Eye of the Reef Shark is very Attractive and interesting to me. The Eye of a Great White is much Larger of course but seems like a lump of black coal compared to the darting and active eye of the Reef Shark.

The Next day the Boat Moved to a Location a smidgen deeper. It was Sandy Bottom mixed with Some Healthy Patches of Reef. They call this site Fish Tales.

Today was the First day for Tiger Sharks. We were told by Captain Scott to actively scan the horizon and our surroundings for Tigers. Although they don’t tend to quickly dart around at high speed like the Lemon Sharks, Tiger Sharks are curious, sneaky and they like to investigate new things.

We were also told that the Tigers were responsive to EYE Contact. This means if you see one moving in on you and making you uncomfortable, turn directly toward it. Then continue looking, making specific EYE Contact. Back it down, and stare it away. I discovered that this Worked. What a surprise.

I watched these sexy beasts cruise slowly by and locked eyes as they glide past. Their gaze would beam toward me and remain until they were well past.  This eye contact behavior really interested me.

Tiger Shark Pic shot on Iphone6
Tiger Shark Image from Bahamas by Hal Wells

It was funny, Me, a 185 Pound man, with no mechanical or physical means of defending myself against a large Twelve feet long Tiger Shark that weighs 1200 to 1400 Pounds. “Look it away”, the guides Connor and Richard told us. “Make Eye Contact”. I was almost ready to snicker when they suggested this. However, this method worked every single time.

During this trip, we had as many as Five Tiger Sharks around us at once. This happened many times, Circling and Crisscrossing the area while heading to the Chum box / Dive master.

Not once, did I let a shark get too close or make me nervous and only once did I need to push one away. This shark took it in stride and did not react as I gently pushed it back. It submitted and turned away gently.

We stayed at this dive site for  4 days. We enjoyed a night dive, during some foul weather and explored the beautiful Bahamian Reef. As it was getting dark, you could see the Tiger Sharks circling cautiously in the distance but never did I see one at night.

In Summation of this brand of Shark diving, I say, No Close calls, no fear. Just smiles.

These are beautiful sharks with five gills slits, Wild and intricate Tiger Stripe, Camo Patterns adorn each one and no two have the same pattern. Some sharks have battle scars and some are very clean but all command an attentive diver who can’t let his or her guard down. Tiger Shark heads are blunt and wide not like a blue shark or some of the other smaller sharks I have been swimming with over the last few years. Not to be confused with Sand Tigers, Tiger sharks are much bigger and have potential to do instant, life ending damage to a human being. They don’t seem interested in actually doing this to us divers though.

Hollywood Divers Shark Diving Trips
Sand Tiger Sharks of North Carolina by Hal Wells

During our stay at the Fish Tales Dive Site, everyone encountered Lemons, Reef and Nurse Sharks along side the Tiger Sharks.

Next, The Dolphin Dream Moved to another dive site near Bimini.   It took us a few hours to motor there. Bimini, Bahamas is a group of small islands and is the supposed site where Ponce de León searched for the Fountain of Youth. 

We did not go to find the Fountain of Youth. We were about to Encounter the Great Hammerhead Shark. We were all feeling very Youthful.

Female Great Hammerhead Shark
The Great Hammerhead of Bimini

The Dolphin Dream is a Dive Boat made from a heavy fishing trawler. It is a rock solid boat painted Blue with a variety of Shark and Dolphin pictures around the main salon. The Dolphin Dream runs most of the year and when it’s not out on a Shark Trip, she is out doing Dolphin Trips. With Wild dolphins we heard the tales of how the Dolphins are naturally attracted to the Snorkelers and Free-divers that do these trips. Many International Groups come and enjoy both trips or sometimes a Combo Shark / Dolphin Trip.

Captain Scott is a quiet guy who seems to be on auto pilot when making the call against conditions, current and bad weather. He has much needed experience that is appreciated when doing something as adventurous as Tiger Shark Diving.

The Crew also had things sussed out. They knew how to get the sharks to the lunch box and knew when to tell divers to back off a bit. Doing so with a friendly smile and only for their own safety. Sometimes Underwater Photographers start to live through the viewfinder. Meaning they aren’t watching out for themselves. The Shark Guides warn you with a rattler. This system worked really well.

The guides also seem to genuinely care for the animals and know their personalities somewhat. They identify new members of the local shark community and keep an eye out for the local environment.

Another Bonus to doing this trip were the fun people that I met. Many shark lovers from all around the USA and Europe.

One of these crazy folks was Jonathan Bird. Jonathan is the Host of the Television Show, Jonathan Birds Blue World.

Jonathan is a very gregarious and entertaining person. I laughed so hard as he told us tales of his travels and experiences. He is a true Shark Advocate. Look for him and his show here. Jonathan Bird .

Jonathan had a variety of Cameras and Underwater Housings as did we and we shot different formats. From Underwater I-Phones or Go Pro Cameras to DSLR and Micro Four Thirds Lens Format with some Professional Cinema Cameras.

See My Underwater Trip Video here 

Shot on Go-Pro Hero 4 and Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera

The Trip Report is Filed by  Hal Wells, Full-time Employee / Owner and Scuba Diving Instructor for Hollywood Divers of Los Angeles. Hollywood Divers is a full Service Scuba Diving Center that Specializes in Shark Diving Trips.

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