Shark Diving with Jonathan Bird

There is nothing better than a friend indeed, whose call comes in a time of need.

My Father had just died. My sisters and I were heartbroken. Then comes the call. A laughing Jonathan Bird was on the other end. He wasn’t laughing at my sorrow but with a solution.

“Join me diving in the warm water of the Bahamas and with Sharks!”

Sharks - Bob Evans Photography

Jonathan had chartered the M/V Dolphin Dream for his Oceanic Research Group supporters. There was a spot left for me.  Without hesitation, I was on a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jonathan met me at the airport with a smile, like his laugh, which produces as much energy as Hoover Dam.

Once on board, I pulled out a few bottles of Rum for all to share. We toasted to my father and whatever else was worthy of guest cheers.

Susanne and I met Jonathan Bird and his family at the Boston Scuba Show. He introduced himself as a Force Fin diver, and producer of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World. Millions subscribe to his youtube channel through which they have been introduced to the underwater world, Jonathan’s and the divers of our Force Fin Community’s world. The webisodes have evolved into an emmy award-wining series broadcast on PBS.

This webisode is from a different trip with the Dolphin Dream Team. You can identify Jonathan from the other divers by his Force Fins.

Most of my diving is offshore California – Catalina Island, Channel Islands National Park and beneath the Pacific Offshore Continental Shelf Platforms. I have seen Blue Sharks and one big Thresher. Reef and Lemon sharks diving in the Caribbean and South Pacific. I am sure Great White have seen me diving near California Sea Lion and Elephant Seal rookeries. Rough necks on the offshore platforms told me they could see the Great Whites while we were diving beneath the Exxon platforms off Point Conception. There is a Great White nursery there. I have felt their presence. Thankfully, they never found me interesting enough for me to see them. This dive with Jonathan Bird was my first with sharks as our destination.

The Dolphin Dream crew instructed us to swim to the bottom quickly and keep our hands close to our bodies. Lemon sharks were swimming around. Then, the Tiger Sharks arrived. They gave me the heebee jeebees. Their eyes appear cold and dark. I could feel how easy it would be for them to help me to join my father.

Jonathan was more relaxed. I enjoyed photographing him as he maneuvered around the sharks. It didn’t take long for me to overcome my fear and get some good shots. I was trained as an underwater photographer and have done more than my share of taking pictures underwater. This was a good stretch after the two-year stint onshore taking care of my family.

One early morning the crew announced there was a Tiger Shark roaming below. Now confident that my professional demeanor was enough to overcome a shark’s instinct. I jumped right in with my camera ready to shoot. There were two milk cartons filled with fish bait wired together. I watched with horror as the Tiger Shark’s little sliver of a mouth disengaged into a chasm that easily embraced the bait. Then viciously shook the stacked cartons as if it could be killed. Holy smoke – or something more explicative!

I realized my stature and bravado was no match in the water for these ancient predators, but that didn’t stop me from taking some great photographs.

Jonathan Bird

I highly recommend the Dolphin Dream Team and Captain Scott. They are the real deal.

Emmy Award-winning cinematographer and producer. Jonathan is president of Oceanic Research Group, as well as a widely published author, award-winning assignment cinematographer and speaker. Formerly an adjunct professor at the New England Institute of Art and Communications in Boston, MA, Jonathan produces films for O.R.G. He occasionally leads diving trips to exotic destinations as well as teaching underwater photo and video courses. Jonathan’s web site features pictures and other information about his work in the underwater world. Jonathan is the host of the new Oceanic Research Group educational series Jonathan Bird’s Blue World.

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