FULLY BOOKED. The Bahamas in summer is a magical place. Flat, clear seas and the chance to photograph some of the oceans’ big animals in perfect conditions. This week long trip on the new luxury livebaoard Bahamas Master, part of the Master Liveaboard Fleet, will be divided between baited shark dives and snorkelling with dolphins.

An Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) rejoins its pod over a shallow sand bank. Sandy Ridge, Little Bahama Bank, Bahamas. Tropical West Atlantic Ocean.

Dolphins are year-round residents in the waters of the Great Bahama Bank, north of Bimini, in the Bahamas, but in the summer their numbers swell and they are joined by other pods. The main species is the elegant Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, although Bottlenose Dolphins are also commonly encountered. Approximately half of this trip will be dedicated to finding, snorkelling with and photographing the dolphins.

Alex adds “dolphins swim very fast and the usual routine is to get the dolphins interested in riding on the boat’s bow and wake. The we slow the boat and slip into the water with them. It is quite hard work because the more you swim the longer you can stay with them. Also the more you fin, dive down, spin around and more, the more likely the dolphins are going to come close and check you out. It is a good workout and great fun! And since we are snorkelling on the last days of the trip, we do not need to stop shooting 24 hours before flying home.”

A pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) swim over a shallow, sandy seabed. The adults are spotted and the younsters are plain coloured. Great Bahama Bank, North Bimini, Bahamas. West Atlantic Ocean.

Before the dolphins, the first part of the trip will be focused on shark diving on the Little Bahama Bank, diving at the famous Tiger Beach and surrounding sites. The subjects here include Tiger Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Caribbean Reef Sharks and more. Alex adds “the Bahamas Master is yet to start trips in the Bahamas, but they intend to operate an open deck policy when at Tiger Beach, however, we will probably divide the photographers into groups at least at the start of the day/trip, to give everyone the best photo opportunities, while keeping people in the water at all times.”

A large female tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) in shallow water. Little Bahama Bank, Bahamas. Tropical West Atlantic Ocean. Diver cloned out of background.

Alex says “Tiger Beach covers a large area and I plan to move the boat each day to get different environments for our pictures. The tiger sharks are the headline species, but I also plan to make the most of the lemons and the reefies for our images. Although the water will be very warm in August it is important that your skin is covered on the dives, including wearing gloves.”

A long exposure of a lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) accompanied by remoras (Echeneis naucrates) in shallow water. Little Bahama Bank. Bahamas. Tropical West Atlantic Ocean.

The Bahamas Master offers a higher quality of onboard accommodation than the liveaboards that typically visit these dive sites. She is originally from Panama, she is 35m (115ft) long steel vessel, with 8 cabins that all have panoramic windows, so there is plenty of day light and ocean views (the photo of her below is not in the Bahamas!). The official information from Master Liveaboards about the Bahamas Master can be read on this PDF.

The liveaboard is based in the Bahamas, so there is no need to make a Gulf Stream crossing at the start and end of the trip. This is also means that European guests can fly direct to the Bahamas, rather than transiting through the US if they prefer. The Bahamas Master departs from Freeport, Grand Bahama. Which is served by regular flights from Nassau and also from the States (with direct flights: American Airlines via Miami, Delta Airlines via Atlanta and Bahamasair via Fort Lauderdale).

bahamas-master-liveaboard

Alex adds “the teaching on this workshop will focus on the subjects. In the first half of the week we will discuss shark photography with techniques for being productive on these dives and also ideas for original images. In the second half of the week we will discuss techniques for photographing dolphins and processing techniques and ideas for both our dolphin and shark images. This is a wide angle trip all the way, I shan’t bring any macro gear!”

Three Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) bursts through the middle of a school of yellowtail snappers (Ocyurus chrysurus). Grand Bahama, Bahamas. Tropical West Atlantic Ocean.

VITALS

Dates:  28th July to 4th August 2018, liveaboard embarkation is at 1 pm and disembarkation at 10 am.

Price: All cabins are shared and there are three levels of accomodation. Note that the Deluxe Upper Cabins have a double bed (couples only). Price per person is: Standard Main Cabin $3050 USD,  Premium Main Cabin $3350 USD, & Deluxe Upper Cabin $3,800USD.

The price is per person and includes the following: Full board accommodation during the cruise;  all diving and snorkelling during the 7 night cruise; Alex Mustard Underwater Photography Workshop; transfers between airport and Bahamas Master on the days of embarkation and disembarkation.

Additional costs: Flights. Port, park and tax fees: 100 USD – Nitrox : 7 nights 100 USD – Alcoholic drinks – Equipment rental – Crew tips.

RESERVATIONS

Please contact Colm at bahamas@masterliveaboards.com for reservations and further information. A deposit of 30% of the workshop cost is required to (amount dependant on cabin). The balance (70%) is due on May 2018. Places will be offered on a first come, first served basis.