Recently, I witnessed my first shark feeding frenzy.
Sharks getting their chomp on is something that an ape with a blog and active wildlife social media presence would want to capture on video. Hell, pretty much everyone would want to record that, right? RIGHT??
Yes, I thought so.
Problem: I’m pretty much an amateur jabroni when it comes to wildlife photography. I have zero professional gear and in many ways I’m little more than a slightly evolved proto-simian. Paul Nicklen I am not.
All due respect to Paul Nicklen and his gear, I did record this feeding frenzy without any fancy gear. All it took was some mid level simian ingenuity and the usage of the limited video equipment that I had on my very awkward person. Not for nothing, but I think I did a pretty good job.
Check out this shot:
I am going to tell you how I recorded this awesome spectacle of nature with my unsophisticated gear all while managing to avoid getting killed or horribly mutilated in the process. My hope is that you will be able to leverage this material to one day film your own awesome natural spectacle without getting destroyed in the process.
Disclaimer: Jesus, be careful if you are ever in a situation were you are doing something like filming a feeding frenzy. It is incredibly dangerous and I’m not taking responsibility for your gonzo wildlife photography career. Be! Careful!
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Get a GroPro.
GoPros take great video and screen grabs, they are lightweight, small, waterproof (the newer ones are), and they are relatively inexpensive. This is a great tool for amateurs to use on their adventures. If you see something cool happening you can simply whip out your GoPro and record.
GoPros are also extremely durable. Mine has been battle tested while cage diving with great whites, swimming with manatees, digging through the Everglades, and free diving with Caribbean reef sharks. The reef sharks were particularly rough on it having chomped it around 40 times. Not a scratch on it!
Get a selfie stick.
A selfie stick purely used to take selfies is a tool for the vacuous dead.
Ah, but throw a GoPro on the end of a selfie stick and now you have a tool that can be used to record wildlife from an increased distance. The extended GoPro can get closer to the animal while your body stays at a respectable distance. This is a great option for not only dangerous animals, but also shy ones.
My selfie stick recommendation for recording wildlife is the Sandmarc Pole.
Sandmarc makes a hella durable waterproof pole. The pole collapses down to about a foot, which makes it easy to transport. Plus, it has a rubber grip and a tether just in case you let the bastard slip out of your hands.
Still don’t believe me that a selfie stick can help preserve your health? Check out this video of a reef shark taking a legitimate chomp at my GoPro. Luckily, my hand was a good six feet away.
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Find a situation that you would want to record. Some good recommendations would be an animal living in a hole, fish/turtles/frogs that are underwater, or maybe chicks in a nest. You can creep on them in a non-invasive way with your extended reach.
I found the aforementioned frenzy while free diving with Caribbean reef sharks off of the shores of Bimini in the Bahamas.
In order to attract sharks to the dive site a bait box was used.
The sharks come in from their day jobs out in the depths to check out the bait box. That gives we we apes a chance to frolic around in the water with them – they are focused on the bait box while we are focused on not getting murdered by the sharks. Believe it or not, but the sharks are very well mannered. They don’t start chomping until there is actual food in the water. No, they don’t think of us gristle-monkeys as food.
Once the dive has been concluded there are bait boxes filled with squid sitting around on the boat. No one wants that. So, the crew dumps the squid overboard were the sharks are waiting. Then, the frenzy starts.
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It took a little maneuvering on the boat to get me into a safe position to record. I had to pretty much lay flat on the back of the boat to keep the waves from inadvertently tossing me to the sharks. While laying down, I dipped the GoPro on the fully extended pole directly into the feeding frenzy.
It’s not how Paul Nicklen would do it, but I did my simian best. I got great footage of a dangerous situation without actually putting myself in danger (my GoPro was definitely in danger, but it survived).
Alrighty, so I have been running my mouth about this video for this entire blog. Now it is time for you to see it.
For your enjoyment, behold, a shark’s eye view of a feeding frenzy!
Just remember that there are ingenious amateur ways to film wildlife. Leverage whatever gear you do have and tactically/safely get yourself into a position to record it. Please be smart and safe about it!
If you do get some great amateur wildlife material I would love to see it. Hit me up on this site or on all of the social media platforms @idecosupereco.