Grand Bahama Island: Dive Diversity

An excerpt from the original from X-Ray Mag

By Matthew Meier

 
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Well known for it’s crystal clear water, the island of Grand Bahama offers underwater photographers a wide variety of subjects and adventures to explore. Whether you like to spend your time patiently investigating the reef with your macro lens or prefer to break out your dome port and wide-angle lens for sharks, dolphins or shipwrecks, Grand Bahama has all that and more.

 

Scuba diver at large coral bommie as a Caribbean reef shark swims past.

 

Easy to access from the US mainland, with daily flights from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, Grand Bahama is situated just 55 miles east of Florida out into the Atlantic Ocean. Divers can expect 300+ days of sunshine a year with air temperatures ranging from 65-77 F in the winter and 75-91 F in the summer. Water temperatures range from 75-88 F and visibility is typically 60-100 ft.

 

Shark professional Cristina Zenato hand feeding Caribbean Reef Sharks.

 

 

 

Caribbean reef sharks swim circles over the sandy bottom.

 

Caribbean Reef Sharks were a common sight on the majority of my reef dives and there is a fantastic shark feeding dive available if you would like to get up close and personal. Here you will experience the exhilaration of sharks swimming slow circles right in front of you, while being hand fed by a diver in chain mail. If you are really lucky, the shark feeder will find a cooperative shark to demonstrate the state of tonic immobility. This is a natural paralysis in animals, induced in these sharks by placing one’s hands on its snout. While in tonic, the feeder can actually lift up the shark and bring it over to the divers so that they might touch its tail. Photographically, I would recommend a wide-angle zoom lens and to position yourself at one of the ends of the line of divers. This gives you the chance to photograph individual sharks as they come in to feed and also to shoot down the line of divers while incorporating the feeding activity.

 

Snorkeling with a common Bottlenose dolphin.

 

Grand Bahama is one of the only places in the world where you can interact, swim and dive with trained, captive dolphins in the open ocean. The Dolphin Experience is run by UNEXSO and offers several dolphin encounters for every level of comfort. I would suggest the snorkel or dive experience if you are keen to capture images of dolphins interacting with people and swimming in open water. Again a wide-angle zoom is a great tool for these types of photos, but don’t forget your topside camera to capture images of the dolphins leaping out of the water on the way to the dive site.

 

Shipwrecks litter the waters off Grand Bahama and create some amazing artificial reefs. A great number of the vessels were purposefully sunk, but others ran aground on the shallow reefs or sank in storms. The clear water allows for graphic shots of large wrecks and there are plenty of opportunities to penetrate inside if that is your thing. Bring an underwater model with you for scale and don’t forget a flashlight.

 

Scuba diver hovers over the bow of this 50-foot, triple-decker tugboat called La Rose Wreck.

 

Grand Bahama has the second largest underwater cave system in the world, with over 32,000 feet of mapped tunnels. For the fully certified cave diver, this is a must see destination. For the rest of us, there are several large caverns at the entrance to these caves in which we are still able to dive. Bring a strong flashlight and a sense of adventure. Fresh water diving in a cave in the middle of a pine tree forest is an experience not to be missed.

 

Scuba diver in the main cavern of Ben's Cave.

 

To read the complete story on Grand Bahama and see all of my photos, please use this link to X-ray Magazine: http://www.xray-mag.com/content/grand-bahama
From there you may download a PDF of the entire article.

 

About the author

Matthew Meier is a professional underwater photographer and travel writer based in San Diego, California. To see more of his work and to order prints, please visit:
http://www.matthewmeierphoto.com

 

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