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
Two years ago I moved to Sixgill country. Vancouver Island
is Canada’s version of Southern California; full of energy and enthusiasm. It is
graced with mild winters and long warm summers, and for a few intrepid divers
some very big sharks. Sixgills are huge, up to 15ft or more and built like
zeppelins. Considering their tremendous size its amazing how difficult it is to
They are one of the most elusive and poorly understood
shark species that a diver could ever hope to encounter. They spend the majority
of their time at abyssal depths where their round luminous pupils are ideally
suited to picking up the thin traces of light in their surroundings. They have
been recorded at almost 2000 meters and probably hit even greater depths but in
a few key places during the hotter months they venture up into diveable waters.
After two years of local dives in Saanich Inlet where
sporadic sightings occur, I started my search in earnest at Hornby Island.
Hornby has become quite famous for its number of Sixgill sightings over the
years. I eagerly signed up and spent many hours floating along the rocky
undersea ledges but dive after dive I came up empty. Undeterred I went back at
the next opportunity but struck out again. Meanwhile back in Saanich a sixgill
had been spotted in the Inlet which is a true fjord just north of Victoria.
Inspired by this news I dove obsessively ignoring my ever deepening work load
and the little notes left by my family reminding me of their existence.
Feeling guilty and despondent I took a day off to catch up
on life and sure enough another Sixgill was spotted! The next day dawned cold
and ugly, but unable to resist I slipped in for one more chance, and dropping
under the plankton layer I kicked along in the darkness straining at the limit
of my sight. Sinking down to 80ft I headed for a likely ledge and suddenly from
nowhere I had a large shark swimming at my side. Feeling a combination of
disbelief, awe, and euphoria I raced forward to compose a shot and tried
desperately to stay in position ahead of the approaching giant. She swept
forward eying me casually and my legs pumped away in an effort to keep pace.
Oblivious to my strobes the Sixgill meandered along the rapidly narrowing ledge
and then all too soon she fell away into the darkness. Now down at 130ft I
looked at my computer, and remembering the nitrox depth limit kicked back to the
light looking down occasionally in the hope of catching another glimpse of her.
Switching back on a deeper ledge she wandered onward into her lightless world
until lost in the darkness.
Back at 80ft I floated along elated, willing her to return
but sure that she was gone. My two year search had culminated in an encounter
that could not have lasted more than a minute. But, these 60 incredible seconds
made the hundreds of frustrating dives spent staring into the gloom and the
endless hours of freezing decompression fade into insignificance. Sometimes the
search really does make the encounter that much sweeter.