You’re a shark photography junkie. There’s a “Honk if you like sharks” sticker on the back of your car. And you’ve probably heard of – if not been to – shark meccas like Tiger Beach, the Galapagos and Guadalupe Island.
But not every shark photography destination has been mapped out and captured by countless underwater image-makers. If you’re looking for a really unique image, try visiting one of these Top 10 Shark Dives You’ve Never Heard Of.
In no particular order…
The Dive: Vertigo
Where: Yap, Micronesia
What You’ll See: Still untouched by waves of tourists, Yap, Micronesia features largely unspoiled reefs. But it’s when the dozens and dozens of sharks show up that it really comes alive. Have your pick of grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, and grey reef sharks. Go with Yap Pacific Divers | www.Yap-Pacific.com
Photo Tip: The action continues at the surface after the dive. With the sharks circling the dive boat and a picturesque topside scene, go for the over-under shot.
The Dive: Big Baskers
Where: Cornwall, England
What You’ll See: Basking sharks are a rarity for underwater photographers to encounter, except in this secret spot off of Cornwall, England. Dip into the chilly coastal waters for the chance to encounter one of the largest sharks filter feeding. Go with Charles Hood Charters | www.CharlesHood.com
Photo Tip: With not-so-great visibility and a large subject, leave the strobes at home. You can use the natural light near the surface—just make sure the sun is at your back.
The Dive: Monad Shoal
What You’ll See: There’s probably nowhere else in the world where you can witness the unique shape of the thresher shark. Rising up from the abyss, Monad Shoal brings divers within photo distance of this elusive, and shy shark. Go with Evolution Dive Resort | www.Evolution.com.ph
Photo Tip: Because dives are conducted at fairly deep conditions and early in the morning, natural light is scarce. Make sure to boost your ISO as high as possible and adjust your settings before the often-fleeting encounter with the threshers.
The Dive: Kelp Forest Sevengills
Where: Cape Town, South Africa
What You’ll See: South Africa may be famous for the opportunity to get in a cage next to a massive great white, but there’s another rare shark to be photographed in these waters. The prehistoric seven gill shark can be found and photographed at a high success rate in the kelp forests off the coast. Go with Pisces Divers | www.PiscesDivers.co.za
Photo Tip: Kelp forests can be tricky for underwater photography. For starters, make sure your strobes are positioned as far apart as possible, angled outward to avoid any backscatter. Don’t try to swim too quickly to the seven gills, or they may swim away frightened.
The Dive: New England Blues (And Makos Too)
Where: Rhode Island, USA
What You’ll See: Just three hours north of NYC lies one of the most underrated shark photo encounters. Off shore from Rhode Island, photographers can snorkel with the pelagic blue shark and speedy mako sharks. Go with Pelagic Expeditions | www.PelagicExpeditions.com
Photo Tip: Since these sharks are pelagic, the only way to get them in close enough for quality images is through the use of a chum bucket. But once they arrive, you’re best to steer clear of the chum, which will only light up as backscatter in your images.
The Dive: Oceanic White Tips
Where: Cat Island, Bahamas
What You’ll See: Relatively un-photographed until the last five years, the population of oceanic white tip sharks in the waters off of Cat Island Bahamas are becoming quite the celebrities in the underwater community. Go with Epic Diving | www.EpicDiving.com
Photo Tip: Safety is the utmost concern when diving with the quick and smart oceanic white tips. Don’t spend too much time reviewing images, and instead adjust settings on the go.
The Dive: Bagan Whale Shark Dive
Where: Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia
What You’ll See: There are whale shark dives and then there are whale shark dives. This is the latter. In this secluded bay in Papua, Indonesia, whale sharks feed off the nets of fishing platforms. They come by the dozens and spend time swimming around and suckling at the nets. Go with the MSY Seahorse Liveaboard | www.IndoCruises.com
Photo Tip: This traditional fishing practice has existed for generations and is one worth photographing. Use a large dome port to capture a split shot of the whale shark below and the fisherman above.
The Dive: Wrecks and Raggedtooths
Where: North Carolina, USA
What You’ll See: Why settle for just one great photo subject, when you can have two? Off the coast of North Carolina, USA divers can encounter ragged tooth (or sand tiger) sharks gathering amongst historic wrecks. Go with Olympus Dive Center | www.OlympusDiving.com
Photo Tip: The wrecks are inherently powerful backdrops for the primary shark subject. Be patient and position the shark between you and a notable wreck feature for a truly unique image.
The Dive: Jardines De La Reina Shark Dives
What You’ll See: Protected from western travelers for decades, Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina reserve serves up some of the healthiest coral in the Caribbean, along with a plentiful supply of reef sharks. Go with the Avalon Liveaboard | www.CubanDivingCenters.com
Photo Tip: With the high frequency of reef sharks (for a Caribbean location), you can use the opportunity to get a little creative with techniques like rear-sync flash. Slow down your shutter speed to roughly 1/15th of a second to create a motion blur.
The Dive: Prince William Sound
Where: Alaska, USA
What You’ll See: The salmon shark is considered the great white shark of the cold white north. A pelagic species, the salmon shark is rarely photographed unless with the right techniques with the right team. Go with Alaska Sharks | www.AlaskaSharks.com
Photo Tip: Get ready to bundle up for this one. It may be summer, but the water is still near freezing and it can take a while for the salmon sharks to show up. Dry suit and undergarments are recommended.