March 3, 2011
I am lucky to count Dr. Sylvia Earle among my friends. She is also a powerful friend of the ocean, working to call attention to the most important issues of conservation, education and change. Her TED talk from February 2009 is still strong and still affects people. She talked about how we’ve eaten more than 90 percent of the big fish in the ocean and how the ocean’s coral reefs are disappearing. And she has also said that the next decade will be the most critical and important in the next 100 years when it comes to ocean conservation. Last April, inspired by her words and action, a group of 100 scientists, activists and philanthropists set out on an adventure called the Mission Blue Voyage. Their goal is to find and get the word out on what they call “hope spots” – places that deserve to be protected, saved and restored.
This is what Dr. Earle calls “the blue heart of the planet.”
Hosted by the National Geographic society, Mission Blue has tracked whale sharks in the Galapagos and investigated conditions in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mission Blue has been described on the TED blogs, and also in Time magazine. Dr. Earle’s wish is to create marine protected areas on the high seas. Just like governments have created parks on land, Dr. Earle wants there to be sanctuaries on and under the water. Think of them as national parks at sea. I know how she’s feels – I am a co-founder of Israel’s Marine National Park on the Red Sea.
I’ve heard about a movie Dr. Earle is part of and I’m looking forward to telling you more about it when I can. Earlier this year, when she received a lifetime achievement award, they played a clip. Have a look at it - I think you’ll find it inspiring.
If you want to experience the Galapagos first hand, I am leading an expedition there with a September 17th departure. This is a rare dive trip to the Galapagos, since it is for a full two weeks. Last year’s prices were $13,900 for the Master cabin and $13,500 for the Deluxe. Now we’re offering them at $11,900 and $11,500. This includes the domestic flight to Galapagos and other local taxes. Book now and take advantage of this deal because there are only eight spaces left. Departures on Sept 17 – Oct 3.
February 16, 2011
Written by Amos Nachoum
The Galapagos, one of the world’s great adventure travel destinations, just got more accessible. But before I tell you about the special deal I’ve made for you to go there, I want to tell you about the journey. Your trip includes BigAnimals encounters with massive 35-foot-long Whale sharks, schooling Hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, Manta Eagle and squadron of Mobula rays. You’ll not only explore Darwin Island and Wolf Island, but your itinerary includes a rare visit and dive to Isabela and Fernandina Islands to see feeding Marine Iguana (only found on the Galapagos Islands) and the elusive Batfish. Because of a special arrangement I’ve made for you, I am able to reduce the price of this unforgettable trip by $2,000 for each spot. Book now and take advantage of this deal because there are only a few spaces left. Departures on Sept 17 – Oct 3.
The region has become ecologically healthier also, according to scientists. There’s no better time to go! If you feel anything of the ocean conservation movement in your soul, you have to go there. Here are some details about the ecological health of the area.
The BBC, in an article titled Have the Galapagos Been Saved, recently wrote that the United National Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to remove the Galapagos Island from the list of endangered World Heritage sites. It’s good news, but some are cautious, because of the importance of the Galapagos.
“I think many folks in the conservation community felt concerned that this action would give the impression that all the issues had been resolved,” said Johannah Barry, president of the Galapagos Conservancy, according to the article.
The Galapagos area should be treated with respect – always. There’s no chance anything will ever be “resolved” there because it’s unlike anywhere else in the world and will always be studied by scientists and visited by adventurers. But it’s also fair to say that tourism is a big part of contributing to the income levels in the Galapagos. It’s a fact that people make a living from adventure tourism. The bottom line is that we all want to be careful about the way we travel there, in the way we make our imprint on the land and sea, and they that we respect this habitat which is unlike anywhere else in the world. How do we do that?
I work with an adventure/excursion company called Ecoventura, which has been certified as ecologically sound by the UN. They are the first Galapagos cruise ship company to offset carbon emissions and to install alternative energy sources on their watercraft. Working with Ecoventura, you can travel with me on the M/V Galapagos Sky, a custom-built dive vessel, and our expedition is scheduled to take place during prime time for encounters with Whale sharks, schooling Hammerhead sharks and maybe some free diving.We have a special permit to spend eight to ten days at one of the world’s most exciting and unique locations – the islands of Darwin and Wolf, and we’ll get to explore the most western islands in the archipelago. That’s a total of two weeks of Whale shark diving and other events on Wolf, Darwin, Isabella and Fernandia Islands. You’ll never forget what you see and experience in the Galapagos. I keep returning and I find something fresh and inspiring every time.
This is a rare dive trip to the Galapagos, since it is for a full two weeks and i have adjusted my price by not less than the awesome amount of $2,000. Last year’s prices were $13,900 for the Master cabin and $13,500 for the Deluxe. Now we’re offering them at $11,900 and $11,500. This includes the domestic flight to Galapagos and other local taxes!
Join me in the Galapagos for my whale shark expedition. The departure is September 17th, the perfect time to see BigAnimals as they were really meant to be seen.
December 1, 2010
Written by Amos Nachoum
If you need any more proof that sharks are amazing animals, here’s news that I’ll be sharing with divers and photographers on my next BigAnimals shark dive expeditions. According to Jeremy Hsu, writing about science on the MSNBC site, the Shortfin Mako shark uses flexible scales on its body to make to make tight underwater turns during high-speed pursuits. The scales give Mako exceptional control and this allows them to move in for the kill at speeds of 60 mph.
“The Mako has evolved to be the cheetah of the ocean,” according Amy Lang, an aerospace engineer at the University of Alabama who specializes in experimental fluid dynamics, and who was quoted in the article. “It has evolved to chase down tuna.”
Ten, fifteen years ago I saw a lot of Makos and Blue sharks on dives off the coast of San Diego. Recently – not so often. But I have some good news – and it comes from the other coast. I’ve been looking into surveying a shark dive location off Cape Cod with plans to start an expedition there. Prime season for this would be September to October. I am thrilled to learn about this location, because it represents an opportunity on so many levels. It’s a chance to see BigAnimals in their habitat, but it also represents an opportunity to help protect sharks.
As we know all too well, for sportsfishermen sharks are game to be hunted and to the shipping industry, sharks simply get in the way of the shipping lanes which can cost them their lives.
It’s a plan of mine to go to areas where Blues and Makos are thriving and talk to the hoteliers and dive centers in those places. I would want to explain that leading expeditions to experience BigAnimals up close will help local businesses. Instead of fishing these species into extinction we can take divers out on expeditions and capture the shark’s spirit with a camera instead taking their lives. When it comes to local business, a live shark is worth a lot more money than a dead shark.
I’ll let you know what develops in Cape Code and other sites. For now, have a look at my upcoming shark dives. Next September, come with me to Mexico to experience the Great White Shark – for a special few adventurers I select, there will be an out-of-the-cage experience. In the Galapagos next fall during the perfect season, we’ll be diving with the Whale Shark.
November 10, 2010
“The Ambassador of the Big Animals” – that’s the title of my talk at the Explorer’s Club in New York on November 20th.
To live up to that ambassador role I’ll be in the city, presenting my best stories and information about some of the most fragile regions of the underwater world. I’ll be showing and discussing photographs from my expeditions around the world and will probably include a few “classics” from the hundreds of my images that have appeared in National Geographic, Time, Life, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Le Figaro, and Der Spiegel. You can also see more of my images on my website, plus news about my latest expeditions. It’s all part of spreading my message that only through observation and interaction with these animals can people understand and respect some of the most impressive citizens of our planet. In a few words, “you have to go there and experience this firsthand.” But the next best thing would be to hear me at the Explorer’s Club!
My talk is part of an all day event at the Explorers Club called “Sea Stories.” It’s a day focused on exploration, conservation, scuba diving, shipwrecks, nautical history and marine life. Registration opens at 9am and the presentations start at 10. The Explorer’s Club won’t be selling tickets at the door, so you have to call and reserve ahead of time. Call the Explorers Club at 212-628-8383. There’s good information online, too, about the event. Ticket prices are $60 for members and guests and students with ID are $25.
Some of my fellow Explorer Club members will be speaking about diving Spanish treasure galleons, exploring the habitat of the ocean floor and filming and saving sharks. It will be a fantastic event and I hope to see you there!
Follow me on Twitter and check out my Facebook page. Here I am on YouTube, giving a talk at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA.
October 20, 2010
Written by Amos Nachoum
Great White Shark Diving Field Report: Guadalupe Island
Here’s a field report from Baja California, Mexico as I wrap up part one of this year’s shark diving adventure. I’m getting this out to you before the next group of guests arrive.
Under my leadership, nine people just had the trip of a lifetime. They gathered from across the USA, South Africa, Australia and Germany to encounter the Great White Shark as only as biganimals.com expedition can deliver it. For five of them, “once was not enough.” They had been with me already on as many as six other trips – and, amazingly, one was back for the second time for an adventure with the Great Whites. It’s always gratifying for me to reconnect with people with a passion for adventure. This trip was no exception.
Cage-Free Diving with Great Whites
Shark dives off Guadalupe Island are usually done inside a protective shark cage. But with through preparation and very close supervision, it is possible to have the “cageless sensation” for a select few. On this trip I carefully chose five divers to join me, one at a time, for a cage-free experience, described by some as the “Everest of Diving experiences.” Here’s one guest as he’s getting ready to leave the cage.
I go about this very carefully. I started everyone in the surface cage at first. As you can see from the picture below, when guests leave the cage, they are always escorted by a safety diver. Though we saw sharks during the whole five day-trip ranging in size from 12 feet up to 15, the pace of shark visits on the first and second days was slow. But then, on the third day, the pace of the sharks frequenting our cages picked up and on the last day and last dive out of the cage we had four Great Whites circling the cage while we were swimming with them…carefully yes, and very much aware. Everyone returned home safely this morning, and now I’m waiting for the second team of this year’s Great White shark expedition.
The weather was calm and sunny, the sea was flat, and the team — they were an extraordinary group of adults who clearly understood what is at stake, the risk, and the adventure. All of the guests did a great job, and know very well how to work as a team, and take part in my know-how to manage risks as I lead them to experience the Great White in this dramatic way. Together we were able to dispel the myth of the “mindless predator” the Great White is so often made out to be. But the myth can only be dispelled when it is done thoughtfully, with responsibility and respect for these magnificent animals.
The water temp was a chilly 66-degrees F at 40 feet and at 80 feet, even cooler at 64 F. The semi drysuit by Bare was very helpful! A good thing, because the lower we took the cage obviously the colder the water got – but also more and more sharks were around us. We even recognized a few from last year. (We named them Lucy and Schroeder.) The year before as well as saw and ID’d some newcomers. One of them we called Noreiga. Once you see a Great White up close, like in the picture below, you’ll never forget it.
Next year’s Great White trip is scheduled for October 9 – 16, 2011, and only five spaces remain open. I suggest that you reserve your spot to see the great white shark for yourself as soon as you can.
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