As mentioned in our previous post, February had some pretty big shoes to fill. Knowing we were going to San Salvador, Bahamas to dive with sharks and hunt lion fish, I wasn’t concerned about being let down…
However, the trip started out less then perfectly. Our plane from Nassau to San Salvador, having mechanical trouble, was grounded and we forced to spend the night in a hotel that looked like it was straight out of 1950. I can’t really fault the hotel; it’s not every night you have to take in 16 tired, hungry, and cranky scuba divers. They fed us well and we ultimately got to San Salvador the very next morning. Michele, manager of the Riding Rock Resort, greeted us with her usual warm smile, wonderful charm and all was right with the world again.
As we were prepping for our first dive, a second ominous thing would happen. As I’m putting my strobe together, I hear…CRACK….the battery door screw breaks and I’m down to one strobe. I’m forced to make a decision here: either destroy a $100 cable or flood and have to replace a $400 strobe. Either way, it’s not an enviable position. I decided the cable was easier and cheaper to replace. Wonderful, I thought, after all that work dialing in the settings in Grand Cayman last month, I now have to start back at square one….
After all of that, we hopped on the boat for our first dive where we ran into a reef shark I came to call “Hook.” I called her that because of the fresh fishhook that was sticking out of her mouth.
On the very next two dives we’d see her sister (who we ran into all week). I nicknamed her “Leader” due to the hook and leader she’s got caught in her mouth.
Being down a strobe with a flooded cable that wasn’t meant for single strobe use, I had to photograph the majority of the first two days with ambient light. Then I figured out that if I complete the connection with my hand (i.e. bury the strobe connector into my palm and deal with a mild electrical current coursing through my body) I could get my flash to fire.
I know what you’re thinking. ”Matt, you are insane!!!!!!!!” And you would be right! But, I justify my actions with the words of my teacher: “Do whatever it takes to get the shot.”
On the way to San Salvador, I talked with my friend and fellow instructor, Josh, about two photographs I needed to get on this trip and how I wasn’t leaving without them. Since he was going to be hunting lionfish, Josh offered to help. It may have taken us all week, but I would say I got what I wanted.
The first shot was a reef shark coming in to take a lion fish from Josh’s spear.
The second was a reef shark killing a lion fish in open water.
Everyone knows that this week in San Salvador is special to me because it’s my own personal Shark Week. Each of the past three years I’ve seen the star attraction in the San Salvador’s shark world: the hammerhead. Heading into this trip my total hammerhead sightings was up to an even dozen. This year would be no different, as I saw my quota of four, taking me to 16. This curious girl was the only one that was within reasonable photographing distance. I call her curious because she came from the deep, swam up the wall, and started to come shallow to investigate. When she sensed a big group, she swam off.
Being that this is my personal shark week, you would think that the sharks would be the stars of the dives. Oddly enough they weren’t, because for me the real stars of the trip were:
The flying gurnard
A gray frogfish — Unfortunately, I was only able to get his dorsal fin because he was hiding by the time I was able to get over to him. Great find Linda, by the way!
And finally, our friend, Gus the Grouper
As the final sun set on another successful diving excursion in San Salvador, Bahamas, the Divers World staff decided that we were not going to let the sun set on our group going back to Riding Rock. We will be heading there again in July next year when the water is a bit warmer. Yes, we’re going to sacrifice hammerhead sightings. But, for us, that is only a small price to pay to spend a warm week with our friends at Riding Rock Resort.