Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's a Bahamian 'Ting Shark Stanley

Shark Stanley has finally made it to the Bahamas. Shark Defenders has created a cartoon hammerhead shark named Stanley. The goal is to get Stanley to visit all 177 CITES member countries before the next convention begins on March 3 in Bangkok, Thailand. The PEW Environment group, the UN ADvisory Panel that makes recommendations for cites, has recommended support for hammerheads, oceanic white tips and porbeagle sharks.

The saying, “It’s Better in the Bahamas,” is also applicable for sharks. The Bahamas established a 630,000 square kilometer (243,244 square mile) Shark Sanctuary in 2011 and the first Shark Free Marina in the world is the Bimini Sands Resort & Marina on the island of South Bimini.

While in Bimini, Stanley visited the Bimini Sands, hung out with some local kids and even met his first REAL shark at the Bimini Biological Field Station ( Sharklab).

You can easily print your own Shark Stanley and have fun showing him your part of the world.

Shark Stanley

Monday, January 21, 2013

Keeping Bimini Blue

Just 50 miles from the hustle and bustle of Miami, the islands of Bimini sit surrounded by some of the bluest water in the world. Bimini has an eclectic history constructed with rum running, Hemingway and the Bermuda Triangle. Big game fishermen have chased records, tourists have sipped tropical libations on the white sand beaches and film crews, researchers and conservationists have slipped beneath the surface with some amazing sharks. For two tiny little islands; Bimini has big personality and a lot to be proud of.

Over the years the draw to Bimini has remained consistent; the gorgeous blue water. I have traveled throughout the Bahamas, Caribbean and the world and I have never encountered the shades of blue one can find off the shores of Bimini. From above it is abstract of bold and brilliant color. From below there is no end to the life and adventure you may find; dolphins, plane wrecks and the Road to Atlantis.

Almost 400 unique animal species have been documented within the North Bimini Marine Reserve. Several of these species are listed as threatened or endangered (IUCN or CITES) including the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), green Sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Bimini boa (Epicrates striatus fosteri).

Those who don a snorkel or scuba gear might find Atlantic spotted dolphins, eagle rays or one of over a dozen species of sharks that have been studied in these waters. The diversity under the water is remarkable and will definitely leave you wanting more, wondering what you might find around the next bend. It is not just coral reefs worth exploring, but the mangroves are a unique world of their own. Juvenile fish, conch, lobster and even baby lemon sharks use the roots of the mangroves as a nursery area. If you look close enough you might even find a seahorse.

Diving, snorkeling, kayaking, bonefishing,island tours and stand up paddleboarding; Bimini offers amazing ways to experience this beautiful blue.

Bimini, despite its beauty, is not sheltered from the negative environmental impacts that are affecting our planet. Development, habitat destruction, overfishing, illegal fishing and pollution have all found their way to these tiny little islands. There is hope though, and there are people who care and want to see Bimini retain its beauty. Biminites, local businesses, homeowners and visitors alike are working together to protect Bimini as much as possible and to share with people how they can help.

Check out the new Bimini Blue Coalition Facebook and Twitter pages and share your love for Bimini. Help us keep Bimini Blue. Not visited Bimini yet? What are you waiting for?

Monday, January 14, 2013

January Sharky Interview: Kate Ferguson, WA

In my travels I have met some really amazing and passionate people. I have enjoyed brilliant conversations, lots of laughs and a cold beer or two. I have decided to share some of their stories and thoughts about sharks here on my blog. I hope you enjoy as much as I have enjoyed my time with each and everyone one these incredible people. I will also be sharing a few on my new website, so watch this space for updates.

My first Shark Chat was with Kate Ferguson, a journalist and video producer from Western Australia. I met Kate while I was in Fremantle, WA in January of last year. Kate is a rock star with a lot of passion and we have kept in touch since our brief meeting. In light of the recent shark culling in that part of the world, I wanted to get a personal story about what is happening.

What does the ocean mean to you?

I grew up down the road from the ocean and had the privilege of surfing most days. So the ocean is incredibly important to me. Nothing beats a swim or surf to re-charge the batteries.

Have you had a personal encounter with a shark? If so when, where, what?

Yes. Several small reef sharks throughout the years. However they're quite timid creatures, so they've generally been more scared to see me

The shark attacks in WA have made global news, are you afraid to go in the water?

No I am not afraid.

What do you think of the cull if a shark is an imminent threat?

I think the culling of sharks is indicative of Western Australia's misunderstanding and ignorance towards the species and management of the ocean, in general.

Christopher Neff a Sydney based shark research, had this to say about a recent shark cull, “However, so imminent was the threat that they could not find any great white sharks for two days. So imminent was the hostility from the white sharks that they ignored two lines set with bait. All the while, the public was out of the water, alerted to the potential risks and the beaches were closed.” Do you think the media is just hyping the situation up for ratings?

In a place where not much happens, tragic deaths through any means instantly make the headlines. There is no denying shark attacks are a strong talking point in Western Australia. They make the front page of the paper and the headline of news bulletins, but I suspect that is more due to the tragedy linked with each case of fatality.

You are in media-how would you report the story? Is there pressure to make sharks seem more “dangerous?”

It is my job to report the facts as they are and I take great pride in that. However, I have found some of the coverage by commercial networks throughout the years quite hyped up, which does create a culture of more hype towards the issue.

The attacks are tragic, but do you think there should be an emphasis on education about sharks rather than a, “witch hunt?”

Absolutely. I believe it is lack of education that is creating this "witch hunt" mentality we're seeing now and I think that mentality comes down to a lack of research and understanding.

Does fear make for a better story?

I don't think fear makes a better story. I would rather see a focus on awareness than ignorance in storytelling.

Are many of your friends or family against the cull? Does the general public of WA seem to support the cull?

I am struggling to find anyone personally who supports the cull, but they must be out there somewhere, to be pushing this agenda. I wouldn't be surprised if it is a small, but very loud minority.

Thanks for your time Kate. For more information regarding the shark cull in Western Australia check out these pages.



Stay tuned for more sharky interviews?


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The World’s Coolest Forests: Bimini Mangroovin

In November we received a call from Dony, a member of the OA team, to arrange a film shoot in Bimini about mangroves. His mother created a Canadian charity called Trees for Life and he wanted to produce an educational video in Bimini. The video is the first in a series about the world’s coolest forests and the mangroves are definitely an amazing place to start. The final piece will be shown to approximately 100,000 5th and 6th graders in Ontario, Canada. We will also be collaborating with Eric Carey and The Bahamas National Trust in hopes of distributing the video and curriculum throughout the Bahamas.

Dony and his fiancé Michelle arrived on island just in time to meet a 2.46m bull shark that I was helping tag along with Lauran from the Sharklab and Katie and Grant from the Bimini Sands activity department. We snapped some pictures and even little Lusca got to see her first bull shark. Not a bad way to kick off their visit to Bimini. We wasted no time in laying out the schedule for a very busy shoot. Mangroves may not seem that exciting, but the vast importance of these forests, both above and below the surface, is mind blowing.

Mangroves are saline tolerant trees that are found in coastal areas of the tropics and subtropics. In Bimini, the mangroves are home to numerous endangered or threatened species including the Bimini Boa, green turtles and sawfish. Above the surface snakes, anoles and birds rely on the mangroves for food and habitat. Below the surface the mangroves act as a nursery for juvenile fish, lobster, conch and lemon sharks. The mangroves are not only vital for animals, but also for the geography of the island. The roots act as a natural barrier against the power of the ocean, preventing storm surges from washing away the ground away and acting as a buffer against hurricane winds. The mangroves also provide food for the people of the island as well as economic value in the form of fisheries and eco-tourism. It is surprising how something that seems to just sit there, can do so much and play such an crucial role in the survival of an island.

Day 1: We ventured out with Bimini Sands activities director and former Sharklab manager, Grant Johnson. Grant has also been integral in pushing for the establishment of a marine protected area (MPA) in Bimini and is extremely knowledgeable about the mangroves and the animals that inhabit them. Grant answered Michelle’s questions about the mangroves as they cruised through the channels looking for critters and learning about these beautiful trees. These forests are peaceful and truly magnificent. We are very lucky to spend as much time in them as we do. Hopefully the MPA will become a reality in the near future and videos like this, will educate the world on why we need to fight to protect these incredibly diverse ecosystems.

Day 2: We decided to ring in the New Year by spending a day in the mangroves with some baby lemon sharks. We headed to one of my favorite places on the planet and checked out the little sharks that take refuge among the roots. This area is like an elementary school for sharks. The “cafeteria,” provides an ample supply of food. The “gym,” is where the sharks can train, learning to hunt and to hide. These little sharks will also have social time, hanging with their best friends. This “nursery, “ keeps the sharks safe from larger predators, including adult or sub-adult lemon sharks. With a little bait in the water the sharks cruised in and checked us out. It is remarkable to have these moments with completely wild animals and create an understanding and respect for them and their habitat. Seeing little sharks is also a great way to create empathy. They are “cute,” and most people are more likely to gravitate towards cute animals, so these little ones make great ambassadors for sharks in general.

We were all spinning from such a powerful experience. There were specific goals for the filming, but I think everyone was blown away by the day’s events, far more than anyone was expecting. I love sharing this place because you can literally see the excitement that arises in people as any fear or misunderstanding dissipates. Duncan and I are so fortunate that we have such an incredible location in our backyard and we are doing as much as we can to see that it continues to exist and thrive.

Day 3: Dony and Michelle had each gone down with a stomach bug and upon returning from our glorious day with the sharks, I too went down. It felt like food poisoning, but with a fever and the feeling of someone taking a baseball bat to my kidneys. I missed the reef snorkel, but Dunk took the crew to one of our favorite spots and the wildlife didn’t disappoint. Massive schools of grunt and snapper covered the reef and few larger jacks and amber jacks cruised in. The amazing thing about the water around Bimini, you never know what you are going to see. It is important to understand and express the intricate connection between the mangroves and the other ecosystems around the island, including coral reefs.

Day 4: Feeling slightly human again, we all ventured out with Grant to a place called Bonefish Hole. The channel heading in is always teaming with life and this trip was no exception. We saw eagle rays, green turtles and a little shark. We anchored up and the team hoped in. Dunk filmed Michelle and Grant snorkeling and looking for critters in the roots of the mangroves. Most people think of snorkeling as an activity only done on or around coral reefs, but the mangroves are one of the most beautiful places to dive in and explore. I filmed some fish and jellyfish in the sea grass along the edge while Dony filmed topside. Lusca napped in the boat and guarded lunch.

Finally Grant shouted the words we had all been hoping to hear, “ I got one.” He had found a seahorse; a rare treat that we all wanted to see. I waited, less than patiently, well actually like a kid on a car journey that keeps asking, “ are we there yet?” I really wanted to get in and see my first Bimini sea horse. Once Dunk got his shots, Dony and I swam over to see the treasure they had found. I was amazed at how big he was. Probably about five inches in length and a bold orange in color, almost identical to the sponges that can be found on the roots; such a delicate and amazing creature right in our own backyard. This was a first for not only Dony and Michelle, but also for Duncan and I.

Several eagle rays passed the boat as we headed back to port, giving the cameras a good show. They look like stealth bombers gliding effortlessly through the water. Their dark bodies are pronounced against the white sand bottom. Juvenile green turtles raced around, the sun was shinning and the water was flat as glass. We were blessed with another gorgeous Bimini day; a nice treat considering January can be pretty cold. Duncan and I headed out to the beach to watch the sunset and I noted how still the sea was and without any clouds, it would be an ideal night for a green flash. Not seconds after the words passed my lips, the last tiny bit of sun melted into the horizon and bam; green flash. We both stood there shocked and in awe. I was pretty chuffed, as though I made it happen. This was truly the perfect end to an epic day on the water.

Day 5: We met Katie Grudecki, the other director of the Bimini Sands activity department and former Sharklab manager, for a stand up paddleboard session in the morning. Katie, along with Grant, has also put a great deal of work into pushing for the MPA to be established as well as educating children on the island about the ocean and the mangroves. SUP is one of the hottest water sports in the world right now and is also an ideal way to quietly explore the mangroves. Bimini has really shallow sand flats, which provide paddlers the opportunity to see stingrays, little sharks, fish and even sea stars. Katie and Grant offer SUP tours through the mangroves and I am anxious to sign up for one in the New Year. Exercise and adventure in a pristine part of the planet sounds like a great way to spend the day. As soon as we wrapped the SUP portion of the day we raced to the North Island to meet the seaplane. Tropic Ocean Air flies from Miami to Bimini and pulls up on the beach where the old Chalks airline did. Chalks was made famous in scenes from Silence of the Lambs, filmed in Bimini in 1991.

Rob Ceravolo, owner of Tropic Ocean Air, agreed to take our crew for a scenic flight around Bimini in order to get some aerial shots. It is critical to see the expanse of the mangroves as well as the areas that are currently being threatened for removal. I drew the short straw and stayed grounded while Dunk, Michelle and Dony joined pilot Adam Schewitz for the flight. It is really cool to watch a seaplane land and take off. It is also just fits in Bimini. There is a charm and island feel to seaplanes, one that matches the atmosphere of these little islands in the stream. I am anxious to get my turn on a flight, but thrilled with the footage from the air. Lusca was again, a great assistant, keeping an eye on camera gear and giving her approval of the shots.

Aaron Star, owner of the Star Lounge, stopped us as we made our way back to the water taxi. He took Dony and I for a little walking tour of the old casino, the first one in the Bahamas, and also the one who saw its demise at the hands of a hurricane in 1926. Aaron explained to me they didn’t name the storms back then, they were just called hurricanes. A great deal of the structure is still standing and he entertained us with stories about his passion for the island. He was fascinating and shared a beautiful message about preserving the mangroves for future generations. These islands may be small in physical size, but they are massive in character. This is another reason why Duncan and I have chosen to spend as much time here as possible.

Day 6: Michelle headed out with Bonefish Ebbie, a local guide and legend, to find out about why the mangroves are important to him. Ebbie is quite a character and as we settled into a spot to film, he insisted that the mangroves would not be wiped out on his watch. He emphasized the importance of the mangroves as a nursery area for fish, conch and lobster as well as being economically viable for Bimini through tourism and food. Our boat was having some issues and Ebbie came to the rescue with a size 10 wrench. Duncan was able to get the cowling off in order to choke start the boat. We finished our day with Ebbie and putted back towards home. The engine died in the channel just as the new fast ferry was heading towards us. Dunk jumped out and swam us to the shallow edge where we anchored and waited for the coast to clear. Slowly but surely we made our way.

Our plan was to cross the main channel and dock the boat at the Thirsty Turtle. We decided trying to go out in the ocean and get back to the Bimini Sands was a bad idea. We made it across the channel, but the current was too much for our little vessel to handle. Every time Dunk tried to go above idle she stalled. I stood on the bow with anchors ready and tossed one in each time the engine died. Once we were started again, I hauled anchor and we moved about an inch before repeating the process; so close to the ferry dock, but couldn’t quite make it. We shouted to the water taxi for a tow and finally made it to the dock. We were all a little stressed and frustrated, but nothing an ice cold Kalik couldn’t sort out.

Day 7: In the morning Grant introduced Michelle to the largest Bimini boa he has ever captured. Katie and Grant have helped a visiting scientist in capturing, tagging and tracking the snakes. This large female was found, despite the transmitting tag having died, and surgery was performed to remove the tag. The Bimini boa is a very docile snake, one that you can pull out of the wild and hold without any issues. The Nature Trail has a snake for viewing and the Sharklab usually has one on site for tours. They are a rare and beautiful animal very few people get to see. They were popular in the 1970’s pet trade because of their mellow temperament and it is not known how many were around back then or even how many are still around. They are PIT tagged like the baby sharks, but it is still challenge to assess the current population.

In the afternoon six local kids, ranging in age from 3 to 17 joined us to help plant mangrove propagules. The propagules are the seeds of the mangrove and they will float around until they find a spot in the sediment to take hold. We helped the process along by collecting them and having the kids plant them. It was a beautiful moment and being able to capture it on film was inspiring. These kids are the hope for not only the mangroves, but also the future of our environment. Having them actively involved gives them a sense of pride and awareness of the fact they can really make a difference. Katie and Grant showed them how to plant each propagules, while Dony and Michelle joined in to lend a hand. A lot of people came together to make this project possible and this really was the highlight of the shoot. Kids are powerful and can make a difference, which is why is it crucial to give them the tools and instill confidence in them that what they do matters.

A big thank you to Grant Johnson, Katie Grudecki, The Bimini Sands Resort and Marina, Trees for Life, Tropic Ocean Air, Sharklab, Eric Berry, The Bahamas National Trust, Bahamas Tourism, Bonefish Ebbie and B-TAB. You have helped us create something we are immensely proud of and cannot wait to share with the world.

For more information check out SAVE BIMINI and the Bimini MPA Campaign.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Marriage, a Mortgage and Mangroves: 2012 The Year in Review

2012 was a pretty epic year both personally and professionally. I started the year off on a crippled Sea Shepherd vessel, limping back to port in Australia. Duncan and I were the film team about the Brigitte Bardot for Animal Planet’s Whale Wars series. Our vessel was hit by a 30 ft rogue wave and we were 8 days getting back to port. I think this goes on record as the scariest thing I have been through, but being able to capture it and share the story was pretty

We made it back to port safely and wrapped the shoot towards the end of January. We headed to Bali for a little R & R before making the long journey back to the US. Did a couple of dives and was happy to share Bali with Duncan. February found us prepping for our impending April nuptials. We visited my family for a bit in New England as we gathered supplies and made plans for a wedding in Bimini, The Bahamas. Bimini kept drawing us back, so it was a natural decision to share the island with our family and friends as we said our vows.

It felt so good to get back to Bimini and back to the island life. We had just under a month to get things sorted for the wedding, but getting our gills wet was also a must. Got in some snorkeling and diving before the final wedding countdown began. We were not only planning a wedding, but also tons of activities for family and friends who were making a vacation out of the trip. This ended being a lot more work than expected and we were both pretty wiped out. Ten days before the wedding we flew back to Florida because I needed what ended up being an emergency root canal. We arrived back on island just in time for my mom to arrive. So it began. Duncan’s parents arrived the next day, as did my dad. Our parents had never met, so we threw them on a boat and headed out for adventure. We took them to one of our favorite spots on the planet to feed wild baby lemon sharks. It was a perfect day and a perfect way for our families to come together.

The week before the wedding was a blur of people arriving, boat trips, activities, meals and finalizing details. Things move a little slower in the Bahamas, so quite a few things were getting down to the wire. Our good friend Dougie offered his boat for a day at Honeymoon Harbor for all our guests. About thirty of us made our way south to the pristine harbor. It is here that you can hand feed stingrays and we got everyone in for a magical moment. We had a few sharks come in and everyone had a blast. We are so lucky to have such amazing people in our life.

The rehearsal dinner was held at our condo at the Bimini Sands. We hired Hotness, a local legend, to come cook Bahamian fare for everyone. The meal was incredible and we even managed to get through the rehearsal, but not without some of the bridal party mooning a passing boat.

April 14, 2012 around 4 pm I made a vow to spend my life with the most amazing man I have ever met. The sun broke through the clouds and lit up the ocean for us. We had a Junkanoo band and everyone had a blast. There really are no words to describe the moment, but it is one that I will hold in my heart forever. The sand, the sun and the sea, a perfect place to make this promise. I love you Duncan Brake. This was of course a sharktastic affair with sharks on the wedding cakes, in our wedding pictures and on our wedding chariot.


No rest for the wicked. We gave Sharklab tours the day after the wedding and did a shoot the following day. Duncan joined the Sharklab to film some underwater sequences for Shark Week’s “How Jaws Changed the World.” We met Wendy Benchley, widow of famed author Peter Benchley, and the shoot went really well. We had a few guests for another week and by the time we said our last goodbyes we were both exhausted.

May was busy with two big shoots and a sawfish!!! We arrived at the lab to our friend Steve shouting, “get in the boat. Get in the boat.” We raced off in one of the skiffs not even sure where we were headed. Finally getting our bearings we pulled up alongside the other lab boats and got ready to slip in. As a moved towards the animal, I gasped. She was massive at about 14 feet and beautiful. I had never seen a sawfish in the wild and it was incredible. They look they belong with dinosaurs. We watched her and filmed a bit before saying goodbye. The lab tagged her and was able to track her through part of the night. This was such a rare and remarkable encounter.

Our first shoot was for a Discovery Channel show called Curiosity. The premise of the story was a woman whose father’s plane disappeared in the early 1980’s on his way from Eleuthera to Florida. The plane has never been found and Pam was hoping to find some answers. We joined some local guides and checked out a couple of unidentified plane wrecks. The shoot was pretty powerful as we all shared in Pam’s want for answers and some closure. Check out this VIDEO for a sneak peak. One of the planes was like something out of a movie set and was covered in life. Bimini is located in the Bermuda Triangle and there are dozens and dozens of plane and boat wrecks surrounding the island.

Our next shoot was for a British program called, “How to Survive a Disaster Movie.”
The show looked at scenes from various movies and reenacted them to see the lack of reality. We were a part of debunking events from the movie Jaws. The host was a British comedian names Eric Lampaert. He was hilarious and absolutely fell in love with the island and with the sharks. He actually asked if he could come back as our intern and do the safety briefing, which he surmised to be, “ don’t be a prick underwater.”

Sad to say goodbye to Bimini we headed to the States. I had a shoot with Symbio Studios as part of another education science video. In this project a group of teachers from St. Louise traveled to the Everglades to literally get their hands on science. We caught and tagged bull sharks, took an air boat tour to spot wildlife, kayaked, met some big snakes and snorkeled in the mangroves. They all agreed that this was not the white lab coat and old scientist experience they were expecting. It is important for teachers to have that first hand knowledge they can share with their students. Despite the intense heat, everyone loved the adventure.

Duncan and I had been saving our pennies and decided that we wanted to finally get a home. We had money from the wedding as well and after a thorough search we purchased a condo at the Bimini Sands. Bimini has always felt like home and it kept drawing us back in. It is where we needed to be. We travel so much for work, but Bimini is home. It is very exciting getting a house; so much to do and get sorted. We immediately grabbed a few cans of paint and started making the place our own. Amazing a fresh coat of paint can do. We also added a lot of sharky touches and installed energy and water efficient fixtures and light bulbs.

Shortly after becoming homeowners, Duncan was nominated for an Emmy as part of the Whale Wars Season 4 camera team. Such an honor and I am so proud of the work he did. Now having a season under my belt, I can understand how challenging and rewarding shooting this show is. Fingers were crossed that we could make it to Los Angeles and that the team would take home a win!

The second annual Lionfish bash was held in Bimini in July and we were asked to shoot the photos and do a video. The bash is hosted by the Bimini Sands and sponsored by numerous vendors throughout the Bahamas and Florida. The proceeds go to The Woody Foundation, a charity to help people with spinal cord injuries. James “ Woody” Beckham loved diving in Bimini before a freak rugby accident left him paralyzed in 2011. The event brings people together for sport, charity and the planet. Lionfish are an invasive species in the Atlantic and they are decimating coral reefs without any natural predators.

August is a beautiful month in the Bahamas and in the water is where you want to be. We organized a conservation photo and video week aboard a local wild dolphin boat and lucked out with some amazing encounters. Duncan missed part of the week because he was filming a magic show at the Atlantic Resort in Nassau. We played with stingrays, sharks and dolphins, even enjoyed being a bit of a tourist in Bimini. Hurricane Isaac changed our planned August Tiger Beach trip, but we enjoyed some time with friends in Miami instead.

Headed north to visit several schools in Maine during the month of September. I think I did thirteen presentations from age Kindergarten to 6th grade. I always find so much inspiration from the kids. I really love visiting schools and hope that in 2013 I will be able to do even more. The young kids are wide eyed and just love seeing the pictures while the older kids have really great questions and are learning and how they can make a difference. Very empowering and always reminds me there is hope for our oceans. I was also asked to appear on the Maine news show 207 to talk about sharks. This was a fun experience and hopefully reached a few people who might otherwise not know a lot about why sharks are so important.

Headed back to warmer climates and right to Grand Bahamas for a visit to the West End Primary School
. I have spent a lot of time at the West End and at Tiger Beach and I wanted to share the importance of the sharks with the students. They have an amazing underwater world in their back yard and I want them to know it is something they can all visit and should visit. Everyone can learn to snorkel and dive and it is crucial for these kids to realize this includes them. The Bahamas established a Shark Sanctuary in 2011 and these kids should be very proud to be Bahamian and be part of such an amazing effort to conserve the oceans. The kids were beautiful and this was by far one of the most meaningful school visits I have done. I look forward to getting back there in the New Year.

We headed back to Bimini to start a shoot about us! Yes, roles reversed, us on camera, but still filming while someone was filming us. A German producer wanted to do a thirty-minute documentary about our life as a couple traveling the world filming sharks and trying to save them. Unfortunately Hurricane Sandy had other plans and we were more or less skunked on everything we tried to make happen. Ulf left Bimini with plans to return again in a month.

We scooted north again for me to do doctor, dentist and more school visits. My mom’s house is also a quiet place for us to put our heads down and edit or work on other projects. On our way back to Bimini we stopped off in Fort Lauderdale to do a shark talk to my mom’s godson’s class. He is in first grade and we had a great visit. Again, I get so much inspiration from these visits. The kids always surprise me with how much they know and how much they care. I emphasize how much they can do to help sharks even though they are young. Gives them a sense of importance to feel like they are a part of something.

Back to Bimini and back at it. Ulf arrived a day and half after we did and we wasted no time getting into. The shoot was an amazing success with gorgeous weather and some beautiful moments. It will be interesting to hear what we sound like in German! We took a group of high school students into the mangroves to feed the wild baby lemon sharks. Always incredible to see humans and sharks make a connection. We also visited the Louise MacDonald High School to speak with the students about the role Bimini is playing in shark conservation and how they can help. Such a rewarding experience and one I hope we get to do again soon. Duncan and I will be returning to the school for a few more visits early in the New Year.

On December 17th, our little

came home with us. She is a mostly pit bull puppy that we got from the north island. We knew we were going to be on island for three to four months, so it seemed to perfect time to get a puppy! We had both wanted one for a while, but we needed to wait for the right time when we would be home. She is amazing on boats and in the golf cart. We took her to Honeymoon Harbor to spend Christmas Day with our friends Katie and Grant. She curled up and slept most of the boat ride and loved the beach. She was not really interested in the stingrays. Katie wrapped her in a blanket and she slept the whole ride home. She has probably seen more parts of Bimini and the surrounding areas than many people that visit.

The bulls

are back in town in Bimini and were able to help Lauran from the Sharklab, catch and tag a 2.46cm female on December 29th. Duncan was picking up our friends who were arriving for a shoot, but he managed to get them onsite in time for a group photo with this big beauty. Lusca even got to see here first bull shark. Lusca has seen nurse sharks, black tip sharks, a bull shark, stingrays and a Bimini Boa; not too bad for only being ten weeks old.

Our friends Dony and Michelle arrived to shoot an education video about the world’s coolest forests for a charity organization called Trees for Life. The mangroves are an incredible forest and they are in trouble in Bimini as well as many other places on the planet. Mangroves provide shelter, food and protection for not only numerous species of animals both above and below the surface but also for people and the island itself. We visited lemon shark in the mangroves, snorkeled with a seahorse, learned about bonefishing and why the mangroves are so important for the island of Bimini. We met some amazing people and had an incredible team. Katie and Grant, activities directors at the Bimini Sands and the Bimini Sands Resort were integral in making this amazing project happen. It is projected that 100,000 students in Ontario will see this video and hopefully it will end up in the Bahamian schools as well. We finished the shoot by planting mangrove propagules with some of the local kids.

All in all, 2012 was an incredible year and I look forward to the upcoming adventures in 2013.

Best Fishes,