Diving with the Big Bull Sharks on Jupiter Deep Ledge winter 2016.
By Alan Egan.
The bull shark’s (Carcharhinus leucas) name comes from their stocky shape, broad flat snout and their sometimes aggressive, unpredictable behavior.
In my opinion they are one of the hardest sharks to photograph as they rarely approach closely and are always in the wrong position for the shot! When close they are normally under your feet and they also make rapid “charges”. Just when you think you have the shot they veer off, descending back down to the deep.
I have been photographing this species since 2013 on the Jupiter Deep Ledge, which is an advanced dive due to the currents and depth. We start the drift dive at about 108 feet and slowly drift up bringing the sharks to about 30 feet to enable the right amount of ambient light for the shoot. Paying close attention is important as we are drifting over 147 feet and in blue water so slipping down beyond the recommended depth is easily done.
It seems only the juveniles follow the divers to the surface; the huge ones remain cruising easily against the current at 140 feet but are an awesome sight to see. Their raw power just amazes me each time.
Whenever there is an opportunity between the Florida winter’s cold fronts, I try and dive with these magnificent animals. It is challenging to capture the image you want but when it happens it happens! Whilst framing your shot be aware that you may have three bulls approaching behind you, they seem to hunt in packs and are the only species that gets my full attention the whole time they are about.
I plan to report regularly here on Wetpixel throughout the winter season. I will note the conditions that we experienced and the and numbers of bulls encountered. My first images are from the weekend of 31 January and were taken over a total of two dives. The boat only visits the ledge once a day due to the depth and then offers additional dives elsewhere with lemon (Negaprion brevirostris) and tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier) sharks. If we are really lucky, we may get the odd great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) cruising by as well.
Please keep checking back for updates.