If you want to get up close and personal to photograph Great Hammerhead sharks then Bimini, in the Bahamas, is the place for you. Every winter, Great Hammerhead Sharks frequent the shallow clear waters around these tiny islands and divers flock to see them. The conditions are usually perfect for underwater photographers, as the dives are in shallow water (7-10m), giving plenty of natural light to work with. The water is warm and the visibility great, so you can stay underwater for long dives to maximise your photographic opportunities. The sharks come in very close, attracted by fish in a metal bait box, so you can use a wide angle or a fish-eye lens to get dramatic shots.
We always dive with Neal Watson when we head to Bimini. Throughout the season, which runs from December to April, you can do a 2 tank dive each morning and experience something very special. Your two guides will get into the water first and get the bait set-up in the correct position depending on any current. We have never had to wait long for the first shark to turn up and you can see them swimming over the sandy sea bed from the boat as you gear up. The Great Hammerhead Shark can grow to over 5m in length and are impressive at the best of times, but when you have one swim right over your head, it is something to behold.
As you kneel on the seabed the sharks will follow the scent up current and make their way to your location. There are usually around 8 divers in the water, positioned in a line with the bait and guide in the middle. The sharks swim slowly past on their way to and from the bait box and seem to take it in turns, making this dive a photographic treat. It is not at all chaotic, like some shark-baiting dives, giving you time to compose your shots (once you have got over the initial excitement). Our record is 8 individual Great Hammerhead Sharks on a single dive.
While you are visiting Bimini, make sure you visit the Bimini Shark Lab, where you can get a tour to see the amazing work they do here to gain a better understanding of sharks and the ways we can help conserve them and their environment. Watch the bull sharks cruise around the harbour at Bimini Big Game Club. Head out to swim with Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. For such a tiny island, there is plenty to keep an ocean lover and photographer entertained!
This is a perfect stop on a multi-island tour of the Bahamas. If you want to photograph sharks, then these islands have a huge amount to offer. Watch out for next articles about photographing Caribbean Reef Sharks in Nassau and Lemon Sharks in Grand Bahama.
Tips for Great Hammerhead Shark photography
- Try to position yourself so that you are not shooting directly into the bright sun.
- Try to avoid the sand stirred-up by both divers and nurse sharks in your shots.
- The most striking thing about a hammerhead, obviously, is the shape of its head and the position of their eyes, so try to get shots from different angles to show this feature off. From above looking down on the sand; at eye level up close, or as it swims over you.
- By conserving your air consumption, you can stay longer and have the dive to yourself and your buddy, later on!
- Remember to enjoy it! Put your camera aside every now and then so that you can take it the beauty of these incredible apex predators.
For more from Nick and Caroline, visit www.frogfishphotography.com.