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Bahamas Aggressor Captain Log
July 13th- July 20th 2019
Temperature- 80-85 F
Suggested wetsuit thickness: 0-3mm
Video Pro: Ellen
Sherwood Forest, Shark Paradise, Hogfish, El Capitan, Sugar Wreck, El Dorado, Mini Wall, Metropolis, Silver Fox Ledges, Predator Alley, Diagon Alley, Mount Olympus
Our Guests: Mike and Mike, Dave, Carl, Marc, Lance, Nigel, Ray, George, Simona, Andrea, Aya, Tomohiro
Guests arrived promptly at 4 pm for a week of photography and sharks aboard the Bahamas Aggressor with Mike Mesgleski and Mike Haber. After a safety briefing from Captain Christy and introductions all around, our guests settled in for the night at the West End Marina in Grand Bahama.
Sherwood Forest, our tried and true check out dive only an hour and a half from the West End Marina, was our first dive of the charter. The divers got acquainted with their cameras and scuba gear whilst enjoying the beautiful early morning underwater conditions. We saw a good-sized lettuce leaf slug amongst the swaying coral sea fans and variety of reef fish endemic to the Caribbean waters. Less than two hours later we were suiting up for our first shark dive at Shark Paradise. We had our first run in with CJ Parker, one of our smaller resident Tiger Sharks, on our first dive at this spectacular site. We also met the friendly lemon sharks, and a whole swarm of Caribbean reef sharks. The horse-eye jacks and yellow-tail snapper hung out in huge schools just under the boat, although they often go unnoticed with all the sharks stealing the show! We moved less than a mile along Tiger Beach to Sugar Wreck. This beautiful ship sunk in 20 feet of water centuries ago and has since served as a haven for reef fish, turtles, and crustaceans. Its hull is now covered in sponges and corals in which we found a family of jewel fish, porcupine pufferfish, and a good variety of blennies. On the night dive, we even found a juvenile tawny nurse shark and lots more blennies!
We started the day at El Dorado, a deeper site with beautiful reefscapes. A huge barracuda greeted us under the boat as we jumped in, and schools of creole wrasse combed over the series of large coral heads in the sand. We enjoyed Chef Caleb’s delicious chocolate chip muffins as we learned about the ins and outs of underwater photography from Mike and Mike. The divers prepared their gear and camera set-ups for a shark dive at Metropolis, where had over a dozen lemon sharks and even more reef sharks. As one of the divers, an optometrist surgeon, was meticulously shooting pictures of shark eyes in the sand, a tiger shark swam right over the top of him! CJ Parker, the Tiger from the previous day at Shark Paradise, passed over the group several times before the other sharks started to annoy here and she swam off. On our second dive we were even graced with the angelic presence of a nurse shark mixed in with the lighter colored lemon sharks. These sharks really are something to see underwater; moving like the bat mobile through the water column. After refueling with some delicious quesadillas, and reviewing photos from the previous dive, we jumped in at Hogfish for our afternoon and night dive. Lemon sharks lazed about in the sand getting their teeth cleaned by dutiful cleaner wrasse, while lobsters and crabs hid in the crevices of this series of long coral heads.
Guests awoke to the smell of bacon and waffles, as Chef Caleb whipped up some serious breakfast dishes before the sun even came up. We made our way to Mount Olympus, a stunning site, that is rarely ever dived. However, today mother nature allowed us to dive at this untouched jewel. Pulling up to the mooring, we saw an eagle ray jump out of the water! While photographing slender file fish, and smooth trunk fish hidden in the reef, we were suddenly swarmed with Spanish Mackerel. Hundreds of them swam around the divers for over ten minutes raiding the reef before moving to deeper water. It was hard to beat that dive, but we had high hopes for our next shark dive at Predator Gulch. During the first dive, a pregnant Emma gave the divers quite the show for over an hour. The famous Emma, is the largest resident Tiger Shark at Tiger Beach, and it was such an honor to see her again after a month hiatus. She swims slowly, mouth open, passing every single diver, making for an unforgettable interaction with this enormous predator of the sea. We moved to Mini Wall for the afternoon and night dive, during which we saw a juvenile drum, a King Crab, and a beautiful cowfish. At night we found a robust green moray eel, a trumpetfish, and dozens of headshield slugs in the sand.
At 8 am sharp, these eager divers hopped in under the morning light at Diagon Alley for the first dive of the day. They were greeted with four passing eagle rays cruising over the large coral heads as they descended into the depths of this pristine site. The spotted eagle rays tripled the size of their squadron by the next dive totaling 12 eagle rays. Divers watched as they hunted in the sand and cleaned over the coral structures. After filling up on some slow roasted BBQ ribs for lunch, we jumped into the blue at Metropolis to try to get more shots of the friendly lemon and reef sharks. The current was very mild and the visibility was infinite, a perfect day for swimming with lots of sharks! We watched as a storm brewed on the horizon, while some jumped in for a night dive at Shark Paradise. These lucky divers saw a hawksbill turtle, and a juvenile drum.
As we made our way back to West End, we enjoyed Caleb’s famous sausage, egg, and pancake breakfast. Our final dive of the Charter, only an hour and a half out from Old Bahama Bay Marina, was at Silver Fox. We saw lettuce leaf sea slugs and got a few more shots of the plentiful and healthy purple barrel sponges and bright green coral fingers. We wrapped up the week with a cocktail party where we celebrated our one iron diver, honeymoon couple, and nitrox graduate. Afterwards we shut the shades in the salon to prepare for the photo exhibition slide show. Everyone contributed at least ten of their best video and photo footage, and the results were outstanding. I think we all have a new-found fascination for shark eyes, thanks to the eye doctor on board! All guests graduated with an underwater photography certificate from the Jim Church School of Photography under the tutelage of Mike and Mike aboard the Bahamas Aggressor. It was a week of learning, teaching, and lots of cameras; each week every diver gives us a new perspective on this incredible ecosystem. We can’t wait to see what the next week brings!