We just got back from Ha’apai Tonga for humpback whales, it was a great trip and we experienced amazing moments with these animals. It is hard to try and explain a trip like this, so many moments and memories that were special. We added a new trip report photo gallery to our Trip Report page and wanted to share it with you all. We hope you enjoy…
Oh the critics and there are many… all thinking I am out of my mind for taking my precious 13 year old daughter Sophia, crocodile diving. She is truly an amazing individual and an old soul. She was super nervous about swimming with crocodiles, but it didn’t take long before she was over her fears and was then trying to see how close she could safely get to the crocs. It was fun to watch, she spent a lot of time in the water, more than I dreamed she would, and told her mom upon returning from this trip that it was one of her favorites.
Yes, crocodiles are dangerous predators, but with a lot of respect and by following the rules, you can safely swim with them. And we have been running this trip for 9 years now and hopefully for another nine years after that…
Introducing people to predatory animals, like crocs is one of my most favorite things to do, and sharing a trip like this with my baby girl is beyond words. Easily one of my most favorite trips I have ever run. But enough from me, I’ll let you watch this video vlog and let her tell you herself. Hope you enjoy.
July 21, 2019 - We went to Cozumel today. My buddies Tommy and Angel came with us to Playa to hang out for a few days and wanted to do some exploring. So we decided to take them to Cozumel Island to sight see. Of course we took off super late and only spent about an hour playing by the beach.
I really wanted to go, but it wasn’t for beers and the beach. DOn’t get me wrong, the beers were a super bonus. But I was after a golden prize - the Cozumel pygmy raccoon and I hoped to see the pygmy coati as well.. So when we arrived on the island, I asked our taxi driver the best place for a shot at seeing them. He sent us to resort beach area on the South side of the island. He told me they would hang around the restaurant seeking out hand outs.
Well, after settling in on the beach, we rented some chairs, ordered a few beers and food from a waiter. I asked them where the best spot is to see raccoons was. The guy smiled and said, wait till the food arrives and they will show up.
It wasn’t very long before I saw the first coati. Right at the forest line on the beach, a family of pygmy coatis were there next to a dive shop, drinking water. The dive shop there, puts out big bowls of water for the animals to drink from. I quickly went over there and snapped away. Super fired up about seeing this endemic species for the first time. Shortly after that, and the reason for my visit to this beach appeared - the pygmy raccon, walked out of the bush and into the dive shop. This animal was not shy at all.
I was on fire! One of the rarest predators on our planet, due to their small geographic range, something like only 250-300 are left. So despite the animal being comfortable and not shy, I felt extremely privileged at being able to see one of these little beauties in the wild.
At one point, the raccoon climbed up into a coconut tree. I positioned myself under the tree and snapped images every time the raccoon looked down at me. For images this was perfection. Having this island predator on an iconic island tree was such a great opportunity. The raccoon tried to get comfortable, but just couldn’t and eventually climbed down. When she did, I was right there under her, ready to photograph her descent.
We spent about two hours hanging out at the beach, my loves played in the water and I stayed on shore snapping away, super happy with our day. I had a blast and am really fired up about coming back for more opportunities to photograph these beautiful little predators.
July 16, 2019 - 5:33pm our first day of whale shark diving off Isla Mujeres, Mexico. It was a good but tough day. So many new laws and regulations here, the captains were nervous as hell about it. CONAAP has everyone on their toes and up in arms. So now it is mandatory for everyone to wear life jackets. Even in the water. You can do a one free diver and one guide, but they do not allow for two anymore. Just silly.
Over all we had an awesome day and despite the headaches of this new law, everyone had a good time. We stayed out as long as we could and everyone had a chance to get some solid whale shark time in. A very good first day. Of course there was so much food in the water that the sharks are feeding on, all my pictures are full of suck. Tomorrow is another day, hoping for patches of blue water for some decent images. Hoping for a coke bottling shark, that is always the best photo opportunities. A static shark that is just filter feeding in one spot.
July 17, 2019 - Day two of our whale shark expedition. We had a really good day - today the whale sharks were all surface feeding and there were a lot of sharks. Of course we are still dealing with the new rules, which are tough, but we will get used to them. A lot of silly bullshit if you ask me. Some of the other boats are asking for some sort of standard across the board service. Basically, they want everyone to act the same. Same crap service they give to tourists and bucket listers, who just want something to do on vacation. Which has nothing to do with the sharks or an appreciation for them.
They want to end the service some of the better operators provide to people who want to see these sharks and want to spend quality time with these animals. It is horrible, and each year, they think of new rules to try and create more road blocks for the better operators. They even turned down prop guards for their boats, which will help protect the sharks and the swimmers. The excuse they use; because they do not want to spend the money. It truly shows those operators do not give a shit about these animals. I saw fresh cuts on a whale shark today, just horrible when you know that it can be avoided.
July 18, 2019 - Just got back from day 3 in the water. We decided this morning to put an effort into finding manta rays. Sadly, we did not find any. Where the hell are they? Last season they were all over the place, yet this season we have not seen any. No one has this week. Last week our captain told us they had a lot of mantas, but so far… goose egg.
The action today was good but hard. A lot of sharks but they wanted nothing to do with us. Part of that behavior I am very familiar with. Tomorrow it will be a great day, because the sharks will be feeding hard and they will not care about us. Hoping to find a coke bottling shark. So far I have not seen one yet. Our guests have, thankfully. Yesterday our guests had some decent coke bottling action. I stayed on the boat while they took turns photographing the shark. By the time it was my turn, the shark swam off. Tomorrow - tomorrow is my day.
The plan tomorrow is to head out a bit earlier than our normal 9 am departure. We are headed to Contoy Island to try and find mantas, and a loggerhead for me. Still need me a loggerhead. Hoping to find a mating pair, which would be epic! The area around Contoy is always a really good spot for manta rays, so hoping to find some for our guests.
Side note; my best friend Tommy arrived here last night, along with my inlaws, and my son Gabriel. Lots of family here with my guests. Love it when my family joins me out here, it always makes travel so much more special.
July 19, 2019 - And it is over. Our time with the whale sharks has ended. It was a good four days of shark diving. No mantas, but damn, where the hell did they freaking go? This was the most stressful week of swimming with these sharks that we have ever experienced. The new rules were hard to deal with, but we made the best of it and figured out how to have an amazing time within the rules and everyone got plenty of water time. Hoping these guys get their shit together and create some rules that make sense for the sharks and the people who want to see them.
I just did a quick check and it is officially 15 years that I have been running this trip. I have swam with whale sharks now for 15 years in a row, that is so wild. A lot of changes since that first trip. We originally started running these trips off Holbox but we decided to change the location over 10 years ago when the sharks were spending more time near Isla Mujeres then Holbox. It cut travel time by an hour each way.
I do miss Holbox, especially now that I am big into bird photography, Holbox is a birder’s paradise. But Isla is better for our guests. It is more touristy with a lot more for them to do.
So we spent the morning seeking out manta rays around Contoy and nada. No mantas… they are just gone this week. Our friend Tracey saw two of them down deep in the whale shark grounds. It was a super brief encounter and that was the best the mantas gave us. We spent all morning looking for them and nothing. About 11:30 we admitted defeat and went to finish up the day with the whale sharks. The sharks were everywhere, lots of feeding sharks AND lots of coke bottling sharks.
Our guests had a lot of opportunities to photograph these sharks and they all left the water happy. On my final swim of the trip, I followed a slow swimming shark for a short while, when magic happened. She stopped swimming and went vertical. I finally got my coke bottling shark. She allowed me to snap a few images of her, before she decided to start swimming again. I was on fire and so very grateful for these amazing animals and this amazing place.
Tonite we will get together for one final group meal together. Going to have dinner by the water to watch the sunset. A perfect way to end this weird but wonderful trip. Thanks to all our friends who joined us, you all are amazing souls. Love you guys.
July 12, 2019 - We woke up late this morning damn it. I had set the alarm for 6am, for a 6:30 departure. The plan was to get to the wildlife reserve by 7am. But damn it, instead of snooze I turned off the alarm and when I looked at the clock again, it was 7:20am SHIT! I woke up and set everything in motion, the girls all jumped up and we raced around, throwing on clothes, packing up cameras, etc. We were ready in record time, 15 minutes. We took off to the reserve and made it there before 8am.
The reason I wanted to be there as early as possible was for another shot at the spider monkeys before they wandered deep into the jungle. When spider monkeys wake up, they take off to parts unknown. At the end of the day, they return to roost in the safety of the trees near the entrance of the park. But during the day, they are ghosts.
I was hoping for another shot at them, and of course when we arrived, they were gone. However, the real treasure for us this morning was a chance at finding the howler monkeys. We hired another guide, this time I remembered his name; a guy named Angel. Angel has lived and worked at this park his entire life, so I felt confident he could help us out.
He took us to the trails where we encountered the howlers 2 years ago. The morning was cool, but the temperatures were rising fast. It was going to be a very hot day. We worked our way through the forest trails, Angel stopping every so often to show us what poison trees to avoid as well as to listen to the jungle for any signs of the monkeys. After about 35 minutes of searching we turned around and began walking back in the direction that we came, I thought for sure our luck had run out.
We stopped by the lagoon to have a look, Angel quickly spotted a Basilisk Lizard, (Jesus Lizard), by the water which I was really hoping to see. They are nicknamed the Jesus lizard, for their ability to run across water on their back legs. They are such cool animals. I saw one the last time I was here, and really wanted another shot at it, and it was wicked cool finding another. Would love to encounter it while it is running on the water, that would be a dream. Right when our guide Angel found it, the girls were slapping away ants. They unknowingly stepped in an area that was swarming with them. The jungle is alive with a heartbeat, you have to always watch everything here. My poor girls, while they slapped away, I snapped away. lol
We continued walking back in the direction of the entrance and I thought our guide had given up, when in fact, he had not. He knew the monkeys were in the area, he just didn’t know where. The forest is thick and the trees are tall. He would tell us to wait, then walk out into the bush and stand there scanning the trees, listening for any sounds that might betray their location. He returned a few time with disappointing news. No howlers.
On the third attempt, he finally returned with news we wanted to hear, 5 howler monkeys resting in the shade of one of the trees near the lagoon. They were about 40 yards away. We could see them with the help of binoculars. They were up in the tree, sitting in the dark, where it was nice and cool. Finally one of them popped out of the trees on a branch with no leaves on it, a female from the group. Jackpot. It was the opportunity we were looking for. It was still a bit far away, but it was out of the darkness of the tree canopy, so Sophia and I were happy. We finally had an opportunity to capture some clean shots of a howler monkey.
We shot away, shortly after that, a couple of young howler monkeys stepped out into the light. Angel looked at me and said, “Let’s move over to another area in front of them, I know where they are going”. He walked us over to the spot he was referring to. There was a nearby tree with no leaves and hardly any branches on it. He pointed at it and said, “they are going to cross here”. It was super close to us. A few moments later, the female we saw earlier stepped out from behind the thick trees and into the clearing. She walked right onto the tree Angel was talking about. We fired snap shot after snap shot. We were all just floored. Mari recorded videos of the encounter.
After the female passed by, two very young howlers popped out of the tree and onto this branch. They were so freaking cute. One of the babies stayed behind the branches trying to stay hidden but continued to watch us. Finally curiosity won over this baby and he stepped out and towards us, followed by the second baby. They were super curious about us and slowly approached closer. We thought, it just doesn’t get any better than this. We were wrong.
As we were photographing the babies, this big male popped out from the trees and into the light of the empty tree branch. He sat down with his babies and started eating leaves from the nearby tree. Talk about exploding with emotion. Here he was less than ten feet away from us, and in the clear. He was so awesome. Such a beautiful animal. They look like tiny powerfully built gorillas. When they roar it is scary sounding. We photographed them for a few minutes, until they finally wandered back out, deep into the bush again.
After the encounter, all of us were just overwhelmed with excitement from the encounter. It was beyond exciting and we all felt so privileged for this amazing opportunity nature had given us. We decided to leave the animals alone and let them begin their day. We said good bye to the howlers and Angel and jumped in our car to return to Playa. Punta Laguna was well worth the visit and I am already looking forward to next season when we return for more monkey madness and hopefully some wildcat encounters, but more about that later.
Until then, thanks for reading.
July 11, 2019 - Coba, Mexico. So the girls and I. Mari, Sophia and my niece Oya rented a car today from my buddy Andres and we drove to Coba, Mexico this afternoon. The plan was to visit Punta Laguna National Reserve to seek out spider monkeys and howler monkeys, and other wildlife that we might find. I wanted David to go with us, but he had divers today so he couldn’t get away.
This is just a quick visit for us and our second time visiting this park, we went three years ago. It is such a great spot, we had to return. I really wanted another shot at photographing these monkeys. It is such a challenge to capture nice images of these primates, because they are up in the tree canopy and the great light is lost in the thickness of the leaves here - and I am not a fan of using strobes on wildlife, so I avoid it when I can. We just have to look for opportunities for images and that takes some work.
It is an easy trip from Playa. The reserve is an hour and 26 minutes away. So we packed an over night bag and hit the road, to try and find some animals to photograph. The plan was to visit the park at dusk when the monkeys come in close to the entrance to sleep, and then again in the early morning when they were just waking up, seeking breakfast in the fruit trees. Spider monkeys are easiest to find, but the coveted howler monkeys are a lot tougher.
We checked into the hotel and hid from the scorching afternoon sun. Today was hot. We prepped cameras and took off around 4:30pm and drove to the reserve which was about a 20 minute drive.
When we got to the reserve we paid our entrance fees and hired a guide. The guides walk these parks everyday and know where the best spots to find these primates are. After we paid our fees, we told our guide what we wanted which was monkeys of course, he said ok, then walked us to the parking lot where a bunch of spider monkeys were feeding on the fruit of one of the forest trees. They were on the low hanging branches and in good light, so Sophia and I snapped a bunch of images. We spent about 10 minutes with them and then pushed on. We joked with our guide saying that he was pretty much done now. He got a kick out of that.
He took us deeper into the forest where we found more spider monkeys, they were up high, jumping from tree to tree, I managed to snap a shot of the monkey jumping, however, my ISO was a bit too high, so it is a bit blown out. I was bummed but still happy I managed a decent jumping shot of one. A new challenge begins!
After we found these guys, our guide ( I feel bad calling him our guide in this story, but I forgot the kids name.), took us onto a small jungle trail where he found us a family of about 20 spider monkeys all feeding on fruit. There were some very young babies with this group, and once we played with our settings, we were able to capture a few amazing shots. One of the babies was very curious about us and climbed to the low hanging branches to get a better look at us, his vigilant mother, was feeding nearby, watching him, to make sure he didn’t get into too much trouble.
We shot for a while then pressed on, now in search of howler monkeys. These are awesome little monkeys that look like tiny gorillas, and they have a tremendous roar. If you heard them and did not know what was roaring in the jungle, it would scare the crap out of you.
Next to one of the trails we were walking on, our guide showed us a big area where there was a lot of dirt piles which were home to leaf cutter ants. He pointed out this huge trail where the ants were busy bringing leaves home. It was so fascinating. I have a macro lens which I brought in case we found cool small stuff, but I left it in the hotel room. At this point I was kicking myself hard for missing the opportunity. We had the next best thing, our iPhones did a great job of recording the ants working away. Such cool little animals.
After we left the ants, our guide kept searching and led us to a lone male howler monkey eating leaves up high… freaking jackpot. He kind of knew it was in the area from one of the other guides, but actually finding it is another story. The guide was good, howler monkeys are so hard to find, so we were pumped that we found one. We tried to capture images of him, but he was never in a good position for a nice shot. Hoping we get another shot at him tomorrow morning. Despite not getting any decent images, it was still really exciting seeing one. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in capturing images, you forget to just enjoy watching them.
We finished up the tour with a stop at the lagoon. It was huge and absolutely beautiful. Some rain clouds were out there killing our view of the setting sun, but it was still amazing to see.
Our guide showed us one last exciting sight before we called it a day; feeding Yucatan locusts. These are really big bugs and there were hundreds of them. They feed on the bark of a very particular tree, it was so interesting and fun watching and trying to photograph these guys.
Over all a great afternoon of wildlife and a fun day with my girls. Looking forward to tomorrow morning…
July 6, 2019 - Sitting here at Banco Chinchorro at the end of the day. This was our first day of croc diving and it went well. Gambit showed up to give our friends one hell of a show. Of course, she was not the first to show up, we had a small croc show up, around 6 feet in length and she was a sweet little hot fire. I had not met her before, I don’t think? We also had a third croc come in, one I know I have seen before. It has a crooked jaw and one bottom tooth that sits square in the middle of its face. He also has a big portion of his tail missing. Whether it was bitten off or cut off I am not sure, but it is gone. Just makes it easy to identify the croc from a distance.
Our guests who joined us had a good time and enjoyed the crocs, not that I didn’t think they wouldn’t. But it is always nice and my favorite part of any trip we do when we know that someone truly appreciates these animals the way I do. We still have two more days of croc diving to go before we head back to mainland. Just happy it was a good day, with a kick ass crossing. Super freaking happy about that. Nothing worse than a shit ass crossing, (last week’s crossing was horrible). Now - all that is left for our day; pour through today’s images ( I think I managed one or two today that I am happy with), eat dinner, super hungry right now, and hit the hammock for a good nights sleep. Till tomorrow.
July 7, 2019 - 8PM. Today was a tough day for crocs, they just did not want to play. We had them come in, but they did not want to hang around, they were super skittish. They would come in, and within minutes, they would leave. Felt crappy for the boys, because that is why they are here, but that is nature, and you get what you get. They are all still fired up because of yesterday’s action. We spent about six hours with them, so that was good. But I still wanted some better action for them. The crew from XTC tried super hard to get them to come in, but they just didn’t want to play. We had thunder and rain storms come in hard for a while, which may have contributed to why the crocs did not want to come in? Not sure?
The highlights for the day was the dive this morning, we went out hunting for lion fish for bait for the crocs, we ended up killing 19 of them, with a few escapes. Garin, one of our guests hunts lion fish in Bermuda where he lives, so we gave him a spear and it was comedy when he had a few of them escape when he shot at them. Mark recorded a video of it and you can hear Mark laughing and giving him hell when it happened. Love that a bond between these guys and this group is building.
We also visited the ranger station to get a look at the crocs and iguanas on the beach. The iguanas are shedding right now and getting their amazing breeding colors in, they look so freaking beautiful. We played with the crocs on the beach, one of the locals brought some bait out for us and called in the crocs. A couple of them came in. They are obviously bringing them out onto the beach, becuase these crocs came right out of the water at us.
I am flat out just a wildlife junky, becuase I was trying to capture images of everything on the island (wildlife); I snapped a couple shots of an anole. They have two species, one comes from mainland Mexico, the other is an endemic species. I captured a picture of the mainland species. My next trip out is this coming August, I will try for the endemic one. One of my favorite things about the island is it’s an amazing place for a hard to find warbler species; Mangrove warblers. Every time I visit the island, my goal is to try and capture better and better images of these cute little birds. On this trip, I captured a picture of a female mangrove warbler and I snapped a shot of the male last week - I was pretty happy with that shot, but fired up I captured a nice picture of the female as well.
Over all a decent day of wildlife, our guests all got some great images of everything we experienced here. I also captured a bunch of video clips, will try to load them onto our youtube channel later. Now we just need some better in water action for our guests, hoping tomorrow (which is our final day), is better.
July 8, 2019 - It is late as shit, tired and bit on the feeling good side. We returned from Chinchorro. It turned into a super amazing trip. Today we had crocs! In fact we had five different crocs visit us. Our final day was the stuff dreams are made of, our guests had an amazing time and they all captured images they are happy with and spent some quality time with very different croc personalities. Our buddy Greg had just bought a new camera before this trip and happy I was able to help him dial it in so that he could snap some images he was happy with.
From the very mellow Gambit, to the super fiery Pinto. We also had a new croc show up, which was a monster croc. Bigger than Gambit and super thick. We dubbed him Godzilla. He was new to divers and it showed. He was wild and crazy and very bitey. We had to be cautious around him. Hoping he becomes one of the regulars we see, becuase he was fun. Sadly I did not capture any video or stills of him, but hoping he returns in August.
I was pretty happy to capture hero shots of the boys with the crocs, they all wanted one. It makes for a great reminder of a really fun trip when you have a nice shot of you and the animals. Especially an animal like a crocodile. They are just an exciting species.
We left the Cabin today (Casa Matraca), and returned to Xcalak. The group loved the trip and that makes me happy. They hated leaving, but didn’t mind returning to civilization for a shower and a beer.
July 9, 2019 - Went out for a morning dive to try and find manatees. On last week’s trip we found them, which was way over due for me. I have been diving here for five years and I’ve never seen one. So it was a massive relief for me to finally capture an image of one. Sadly we didn’t see one this morning. Our group was just thrilled to get wet this morning. Diving is always a great way to start your day.
I am writing this while waiting for Andres, our driver to pick us up and take us to Playa del Carmen for our final night of the trip. I had a lot of fun with this group, the boys got on well and there was a lot of back and forth jabbing at each other. Always makes the trip a lot fun when that happens…
July 10, 2019 - Last night we celebrated the end of the trip together, and laughed into the night. Such a great way to finish off this fun and amazing adventure. Thanks again to our friends who joined us out here and thank you to XTC, our host operator for always kicking ass for us… Until August and to my buddies, safe travels home, miss you guys already and till the next one.
July 5, 2019 - Travel Day… Headed to Xcalak Mexico for our second croc diving trip of the 2019 season. Yes, we are taking our new group of friends out there to swim with crocodiles. The down side, it is another 5 hour drive to get from Cancun to Xcalak, and then a minimum 2 hour boat ride to get to Banco Chinchorro. Why are all the best places so freaking hard to get too? This week we are taking 6 people from very different parts of the world; Belgium, Australia, Guatemala, Bermuda, California and New York. The accents you hear are always fun. Super pumped to introduce them to the crocs tomorrow. The weather looks favorable for us and I am referring to the crossing from Xcalak to Banco Chinchorro, because once you are at Chinchorro, the weather is always good.
Last week, the crossing kicked our ass. It normally takes about two and half hours to get there, and less than two hours on a smooth glassy day. But last week’s crossing took us 5 hours of crap weather. It was a beating on the body and soul man. The winds and the swells kicked us around and kept us wet the entire ride. Hoping for a nicer ocean crossing for this group, and not going to lie, for me!
The croc action last week was pretty good, Gambit (the star croc of Chinchorro), was with us two of the three days. She/he is getting big. I know it is a slow growth, but finally she is starting to girth up. Hoping to see her get in to the teen sizes, here in the next few years. It always makes for a more amazing dive when you get these monster sized animals coming in to play with.
So an update from yesterday’s blog, and my new art project. I am super pumped that I am almost finished with the photos for my friend Sandra, the amazing soul that gave me the honor of allowing me to share my work on the walls of our local hospital. So far I have sent about 46 images to my buddy Chris, who is printing them up for me, and drop shipping them to the framer. I still need 6 more and then I am done with my part until they do the red carpet opening party they have planned, which should be fun. I just hope I am in town for that. Excited that my daughter Sophia will have a few images up there with me, along with my brother in law, AJ.
We need to add some variety to the art we are displaying for local wildlife and it wouldn’t be complete without some RGV reptiles, and sadly, I didn’t have any, but AJ for sure did. He loves capturing images of local wildlife as well, so I asked if he had a few images that he would allow us to use for the project. He was fired up about it and sent me a lot to choose from. I found three that were pretty amazing. So anyway, this is today’s update for the blog. I will try and finish up a video for the trip before I return from Chinchorro, to share with you guys when I get back to Playa for our final night of the trip.
I am going to try and write up a daily blog when I can and I wanted to write one up before we left to the island tomorrow, but not sure if I can, since we are leaving at 8am tomorrow morning. Tomorrow will be a bit of chaos, because we will be packing for a two night stay at Casa Matracka’s fishing cabin. So not sure if I will have time, but will try. For now, good night my friends…
Hey guys, so I have been super behind on blogs and vlogs and updates. So sorry about that, the craziness of our summer has begun and it is hard trying to keep everyone up to date on what we have been doing and where we have been going. Well, it is a bit easier on our social media pages, because we can drop an image to share what we did that day or week. It is fast and easy. So if you are not following us on Facebook and Instagram, get on it.
I did post a vlog from our Africa trip, well the first day of the trip. I recorded one everyday and I wanted to do all five days, but I have not been able to. Here is the reason why. Right now, I have been commissioned to provide 50 plus images for one of the big hospitals in our area, which is remodeling their entire first floor, with all new framed images, and I have been given the honor of having our wildlife pictures, of both local wildlife, and ocean wildlife for this project. So for the past month and change, I have been seeking out some of mine, and Sophia’s favorite and best images for this project. It has been super time consuming and a lot of fun. Looking forward to sharing with you guys, this project when it is done.
Anyway, I am almost finished with submitting the images and once that is done, I can try and catch up with more vlogs, blogs, and trip reports, for you guys. I need to write up Africa and Baja orcas (I am so behind). So far I have submitted 40 of the 50 images already to our printer, but I still need 10 more to go. So I promised myself this blog would be short, because I need to finish this up before I leave tomorrow for our second crocodile diving trip to Banco Chinchorro.
This morning, I said good bye to our guests who joined us on the first trip. Writing this on the couch in our (Air BnB) apartment in Mexico. The people you meet on these trips are always cool, and it’s sad saying goodbye. We had a great week with the crocs and it was good to see Gambit again and Fireball, two crocodiles I have gotten to know through the years, they are such amazing animals. I also finally got the chance to finally see a manatee out here, it was an animal I have been really wanting to see but never got the opportunity. It was a long wait- after 5 or 6 seasons, I saw that beautiful mermaid.
So, going to stop here because I need to get back at it. And I am going to try and keep you guys updated a bit more on this journey of mine, even if I can’t get to editing vlogs for you guys, I will start writing in this journal more. I have some crazy projects that I want to do and will be sharing as I move forward. But until then, wishing you guys an amazing summer, and I promise to keep you guys posted more.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. The hiding. We as people who work with sharks and feed sharks, tend to hide, what I guess could be called, the dark little secret of our industry. Which is feeders getting bit by sharks. We (the feeders), hide those things from the general public and only discuss it amongst ourselves. We laugh about it, we give each other firm scoldings when we screw up really bad, and give each other tight hugs, when we know we dodged a big one.
It is the game, within the game, I guess, and now that my son is in this game, it weighs heavily on my mind. I ask myself all the time, why do we hide? It is not like people won't go shark diving anymore? In fact, I think it would help boost sales, because people are crazy like that, especially shark divers.
I guess, we tell ourselves, it is more to do with the shark's reputation than anything else. We do not want to hurt it, or add to those foolish shark attack files that get used in the media all the time, and allow those sharkfile people (someone very particular in mind on this one), to get airtime as a shark expert and condemn the animals we love so much.
Every time I am in the water with sharks, I always feel like they are teaching me something new. So if I got bit, it was because I was a slow learner. Thankfully in a 13 year career I have only been bitten 4 times. This is after thousands of feeding dives with tigers, lemons, and many other species of sharks. I have always looked at my scars as reminders, for being a slow learner. But I also feel grateful and blessed to have lived and worked with these sharks so intimately for so many years, and that I am a half-ass good student.
I guess, in the end we hide it from the public because we love these animals, we know that when we get bit, it is our fault, and we don't want to hurt them, AND we don't want people to think bad about them either. I mean, people who work with dogs everyday, eventually get bit, and those of us who work with sharks do as well.
It has always been a game of, "It's not if... it 's when". Working with these animals, it will always continue to be that way. So, the next time one of my buddies gets bit, expect to hear - NOTHING about in the news, because, I guess... it will continue to be... our dark little secret.
Thank you for reading and to my buddies out there, love you guys and stay safe.