Bruce Watkins shot both of the images accompanying this article
on his April, 2010 trip
Divers onboard the Solmar V often encounter
Hammerhead Sharks at various locations throughout the Socorro Islands
- particularly at Roca Partida and San Benedicto Canyon. We have
individual encounters, plus groups (we call them "hammerhead
gangs"), and even very large schools!
While it's always amazing to spend time relaxing
underwater with Hammerheads - how do you get close enough to take
pics and video?
Them Doesn't Work
If you try to swim directly at them to get closer - they will either slowly
move away or ZOOM away if they are startled. They seem comfortable
at 10 -15 feet away - as long as you don't make any sudden moves. Close
enough for great encounters - but not close enough for great pics.
Can You Sneak Up On Them?
Yes - you can get close to Hammerheads. But
No - you can't really sneak up on them. So,
how do you get close? Check out the underwater
terrain and look for rock outcroppings and/or boulders. Hide
behind them and stay close to the bottom! Wait
a couple of minutes, and you'll see the Hammerheads
start to move closer. Stay patient - and you'll
get the shot you want!
One important point here - the closer
you can get to the bottom, the better. Swimming around
5 feet above the bottom will spook the hammerheads just as easily
as swimming toward them!
Study Their Swim Pattern
Individuals, small groups, and large schools often have different swimming
patterns depending on current, water depth, and time of day. Large
schools, for example, are nearly always facing the current - and moving
only enough to maintain their position. They may be approached from
the side (very slowly) but it's still a better idea to see if you can
pick a path close to the rocks to avoid spooking them. Individuals and small
groups will usually be actively swimming - so you watch their pattern. If
you see them swiming over the same spot (a shallow portion of the
reef) - it's a good bet more will follow. Position yourself accordingly,
hunker down and out of sight, and get your camera ready.
Move Your Camera Very Slowly - Keep Bubbles
To A Minimum
OK - the hammerhead is only 5 feet away - has not
seen you yet - but you need to change your camera
angle. As frustrating as it might be - you
must move the camera very slowly -or the sharks
will disappear. These sharks are also not fond
of SCUBA bubbles - and a quick exhalation will
see them veer away.
Try Different Angles
Underneath and from the side yield the best results, although
because of the position of their eyes - you sometimes have some
interesting "head on" encounters, as Bruce Watkins did
on his April, 2010 trip. Stay low on the reef, preferably out of
direct sight, let the Hammerheads come to you - and you'll come
home with great pics and video.
The crew of the Solmar V will use their
extensive diving experience in the Socorro Islands to brief you
on how to dive with Hammerheads on every cruise.
This article is from the Solmar
V eNEWS Article Archive