A trip to Grand Cayman is not complete without experiencing the thrill and excitement of the yearly dance of the silversides.
Every summer, millions of silversides fill underwater tunnels with such abundance that immediately takes your breath away. It’s mesmerizing to watch the shoal move in unison to avoid predators. The tunnels, along with the sunrays, tarpon and silversides present a truly unique underwater photo opportunity that ignites the creativity inside every photographer.
The Dive Plan
Eden Rock Diving Center offers two dive sites for the price of one: Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto. Make sure to ask where the silversides are when you arrive.
The dive sites are like a maze as divers work their way slowly around the long, spacious, meandering tunnels. The tunnels in themselves are a great opportunity to capture the sunrays beaming through the cracks above, sending twinkling spotlights to the sandy bottom.
Year round, you will find tarpon with their grumpy faces taking refuge inside the tunnels, but what really makes this dive site special is when the cabaret arrives—the silversides.
Located just to the south of the harbor in George Town lies this hidden treasure that comes to life during the months of June and July. Shore access makes Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto easy and hassle-free to get to. Just a giant stride entry into the blue and a short surface swim will bring you right on top of the tunnels. At a maximum depth of 60 feet, divers can enjoy a long bottom time to nail the best shots.
The wider the lens, the better for capturing this mesmerising show. A 10mm fisheye will allow you to cram as many silversides as possible into one image. A wide-angle also allows photographers to capture the sunrays that beam down, speckling the bottom of the tunnels.
Tips and Techniques
It’s incredibly difficult to stop taking photos of the silversides, as the formation is never the same, and they move so quickly you just want to keep clicking away.
However, to get the really good shots, timing is paramount. It takes some patience to sit and wait for the fish to form the shape you want, and for the tarpon to come through at just the right moment, causing the silversides to separate.
Since the fish fly around like tiny specs of silver, your strobes should be turned down to at least half power so as not to overexpose your image. I normally go into the tunnels with an image in my head and sit with all my settings and strobes ready and wait, and wait, until I see my image—and then I give it my best shot.
Planning a Trip to Eden Rock
When: The months of June and July provide the best opportunity for silversides.
Subjects: Silversides during prime months, while the off-season period still gives you the chance to photograph spotted eagle rays, stingrays, angelfish, and jacks.
Equipment: Fisheye lens for DSLR users and wet lens wide-angle adaptor for compact shooters.
Who to Go With: Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto are available as shore dives near downtown George Town.