I was lucky to be on board Scuba Travel’s shark quest liveaboard trip last week. This trip was specially arranged by Scuba Travel to photograph oceanic whitetip sharks at the Brothers Islands. On board the Tornado Marine’s Hurricane liveaboard were 20 underwater photographers ready to test their photography skills when encountering these remarkable “hyenas” of the sea. Scuba Travel’s photography itineraries are special trips aimed at underwater photographers. This means that the dive sites of the week are specially selected to suit underwater photography. Apart from the 2 local dive guides we also had on board Scuba Travel’s own Photo-Pro Mario Vitalini. Mario’s job was to assist with any photo related issues and he also held informative talks in the evenings.
Diving with Oceanic White Tips
We spent 4 full days diving around the Little and Big Brother islands in sunny and reasonably calm conditions. The Brothers are a famous place for spotting bigger fauna in the Red Sea. They are the only visible land mass for almost 60km and thus attract shark species like the scalloped Hammerhead and Thresher sharks. I saw glimpses of both species during the week, but it was the longimanus, the Oceanic Whitetip, that we were there for. These opportunistic sharks travel up and down the busy shipping lane passing the Brothers and often stop by in hope for a snack. What makes these sharks so famous among underwater photographers is their curiosity and temperament. Unlike most of the shark species, these sharks are not shy. They will investigate you close by… very close. The longimanus will swim straight at you often darting away at the final second. This, of course, makes them perfect targets for underwater photographers.
Most of our dives during the week were spent hanging under our boat. We also “hopped” under the other liveaboards gathered nearby. Your buoyancy skills really were put on the test as we often spent the whole dive suspended in the blue in about 8 to 6 meters. Below us was 100m of water and the reef of the Islands was only visible once you swam towards it. Might sound boring but this was where the sharks gathered. During the week we also visited the reefs and the wrecks of the Big Brother island.
Tips for Photographers:
The Oceanics are reasonably easy to photograph as they come close. You will need to bring a wide-angle zoom lens and a powerful strobe or two with you. I personally used a fisheye lens but noticed that in the end, people with slightly less wide lenses fared better. I just had to crop a bit more into my frames.
The Oceanics are an apex predator so stay with your buddy. From our group, a diver got separated due to a current and pushed away into the blue. He had to use his SMB and wait for 10 for hair-raising 10 minutes for a pickup. During this time, he was constantly harassed by a solitary shark who kept bumping on him. It’s all on video!
Although generally good tempered one larger shark got seemingly pissed off when 6 divers literally dropped on him from a zodiac near the Aida wreck. Our dive guide Yasser had to hush it away with his tank in the end. So, don’t crowd or chase them.
All in all, the trip was very successful, and the boatful of photographers were very happy with their results. Tornado Marine’s Hurricane might not anymore be the newest and fanciest boat that ply these waters but the crew and the guides a Red Sea veterans and will guarantee you the most relaxed and knowledgeable guiding experience in Egypt.
See more info about Scuba Travels photography itineraries HERE.