July 2, 2012 - Sand Tiger Night Club

Photo of the Week
Carcharias taurus within the wreck of the Aeolus. (New)
     The wreck of the Aeolus, which lies 28 miles south of Morehead City, NC was the sight of a very exciting photo shoot for myself this past Saturday where numerous sand tiger sharks, maybe a dozen strong, had gathered within the wreck. Every once in a while you will find a shark or two loitering about inside the wrecks here in North Carolina, but to see this many is a rare occurrence. From the stand point of a photographer, this makes for some great subject matter.

     With my favorite 10.5mm Nikon fisheye lens and D300 camera I carefully made myself at home inside the stern section of the wreck and snapped away until my fingers bled. OK, maybe that's a stretch; my fingers didn't actually bleed, but the opportunities for great photos were everywhere and my flash was firing rapidly. The eerie light emanating from outside of the deteriorating wreck made for a superb backdrop for the sharks lurking about within their dark night club. I was a kid in a candy store with one 'keeper' photo after another filling my camera's memory card.

     Several sharks even swam up and down the companionway on the port side of the wreck which is lined with stunning brilliant purple colored sea fans. There's nothing like adding a little color to a scene to spice it up your image. Human models couldn't have posed for a better shot than these sharks and I don't have to pay them.

     After about thirty minutes of pure bliss with my 'fave' sharks, it was time to head up to my divers waiting up top. This past weekend a group from Seahorse Scuba in Midlothian, Virginia chartered the boat I skipper for Olympus Dive Center. They too had a look at the Aeolus and her sand tiger shark squatters.

     The past few years the Aeolus has had sporadic sand tiger sightings on her remains while the neighboring wreck of the USCGS Spar was the hot spot for shark sightings. Although the Spar still has sand tigers on it this season, the Aeolus seems to attract more this dive season. Not much is known why or where sand tigers roam in their range of habitat but studies are being done in Delaware State University by Dr. Dewayne Fox and by The Guy Harvey Research Institute. By attaching transmitters much is being learned of the sharks migratory patterns. When I find out more about the results I'll be passing this information on to you.

     The Aeolus wasn't the only wreck visited by the divers from Seahorse Scuba. They also got a taste of the USCG Cutter Spar and were introduced for the first time to the wreck of the legendary U-352. A visit to the North Carolina coast to dive would not be complete until one scratched a few lines into their dive log about this wreck experience. Visibility has been around 30-40 feet depending on where you dive. These conditions certainly aren't the best North Carolina has to offer, but not the worst either.

     Presently, the Midnight Express has been grounded due to bad weather on this day, but we are scheduled to run again on Tuesday and Wednesday with the gang from New Joisey's, Ocean Explorers headed up by Jim Masters and Donna Gunn. I'll have more about their dives very soon. Rumor has it we are heading to the Caribsea to see some sharkies. So what else is new?

Happy Diving!

-Mike Gerken

Photo Gallery

Crazy Outer Banks weather can be scary and awe inspiring at the same time. This storm dumped more than an inch in a few hours and caused damage up and down the eastern coast of the US.
Shot taken on July 1, 2012 at the Olympus Dive Center dock.
Sand tiger shark on the wreck of the Aeolus. (New)
Sand tiger with brilliant purple sea fans. (New)
Sand tiger 'strolling' down the port companionway
of the Aeolus. (New) 
Sand tiger hanging out in 'Club' Aeolus. (New)

Annette Papa shooting with her new D7000 on the W.E. Hutton aka Papoose.

A black and white sand tiger shark. A very rare species.

Annette Papa posing with her new 'baby'.

Annette Papa hanging out in the deep dark and dangerous.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

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