Not just a
huge collection of
Elasmodiver.com contains images of sharks, skates, rays, and a few
chimaera's from around the world. Elasmodiver began as a simple web
to help divers find the best places to encounter the different
species of sharks and rays that live in shallow water but it has
slowly evolved into a much larger project containing information on
all aspects of shark diving and shark photography.
now more than 10,000 shark pictures and sections on shark
evolution, biology, and conservation. There is a large library of
reviewed shark books, a constantly updated shark taxonomy page, a
monster list of shark links, and deeper in the site there are
numerous articles and stories about shark encounters. Elasmodiver is
now so difficult to check for updates, that new information and
pictures are listed on an Elasmodiver Updates Page that can be
This morning I
plunged into the frigid Southern Ocean and spotted at least a hundred sharks
milling around on the sea floor below me. I was diving off of Albany in
south Western Australia next to a small island covered in New Zealand fur
seals. None of the seals were in the turbid water and as I descended towards
the sharks I scanned the area for Whites, rationalizing to myself that if I
saw one in the distance it wouldn’t try a sneak attack. Back in the 70’s
Albany was a thriving whaling community, its waters continually bloodied
from the slaughter of Southern Wright whales, Humpbacks, and Blues. Back in
those days, White sharks would launch themselves up the fleecing ramps to
tear off chunks of blubber before the whalers could secure and render their
Today, the few
remaining whales are fully protected in Australian waters and the Whites
have largely moved away or themselves been taken by anglers. Still I kept a
wary eye on the grey fog around me and slowing my descent, I touched down
lightly in the centre of the darting sharks.
over 100 individuals but fearlessly I stood my ground spurred on by the fact
that the largest of the pack was barely 12 inches long. What I had come to
photograph was a huge aggregation of baby Port Jackson sharks. Fully grown
these curious looking sharks top out at around five feet in length, but
these little guys (probably less than a month or two old) were a mere
fraction of that size and many would probably not get much bigger, falling
prey to larger sharks and mammals.
Trying not to
stir up the sand, I edged towards the closest sharks, marveling at their
bold markings. Each had a distinct, chocolate brown bridle, seemingly air
brushed onto a hazy background of beige and cream. The overall effect was
quite dazzling in my camera’s bright strobes, yet when my lights pointed
away, the sharks blended perfectly into the patchy sea grass and sand.
sharks are part of the family Heterodontidae or Bullhead sharks. In keeping
with their scientific name which literally means different teeth, they have
sharp, pointy teeth at the front and flattened, crunching teeth at the
sides. This variety of biting possibilities allows the Port Jacksons to feed
on small fishes as well as sea urchins and other benthic invertebrates.
asked Uwe Klinge (Captain and Owner of Dive Albany’s fast little charter
boat) how he had found the nursery. He said that he usually brought divers
out to play with the seals and one day the sharks had simply been there
waiting. These particular sharks probably hatched from a communal egg laying
site nearby, and would remain in the area until big enough to venture off
from the group, into deeper, offshore water.
For the better
part of an hour I bounced from one group to another trying to edge as close
as possible. Most of the sharks would move off by the time I was at arms
length but a few bold individuals would swim right up to my lens and pose.
ascending I kicked off into deeper water and noted that the silhouettes of
Port Jackson sharks peppered the seabed as far down as I could see. Losing
count of their numbers, I lazily kicked back to the boat in mid water, now
totally oblivious to the threat of White sharks. And, climbing back on board
I started raving on about the Port Jacksons while Uwe grinned and whisked us
away to look for more unusual Australian sharks.