We are excited to introduce to our newest team member, Andy Murch, a world renowned underwater photographer. His collection of shark images is unrivaled and can be seen at ELASMO DIVER. Andy uses his images to educate the world about sharks, both common and rare, and uses them as a tool in the fight to save sharks. Andy has contributed numerous images to our education and outreach projects and we look forward to all the future materials we will create together. Thank you for sharing your images and your shark story with us! Welcome to the team Andy!
1. What is your favorite species of shark and why?
Collectively, I love catsharks. They are not the type of powerful toothy sharks that most people are drawn too but they are beautiful animals with vivid patterns and cute faces. They are also the largest family of sharks with more than 150 species!
2. Is there one species you really want to see in the wild that you have not yet?
There are so many! I would love to see a bramble shark. Thats a 3m long, purplish black shark with big thorns all over its body like a rose bush. They live very deep so I’ll probably never get to see one without a submarine but I can keep hoping
3. Why did you start focusing your photography on sharks?
I learned to dive in the Caribbean where there were many fish but it was a rare treat to see a shark. When one did appear it would swim away quickly. I started taking pictures of the sharks I saw so that I could study them more closely. Before long, I was hooked and I built up a large collection of different species and posted them on a website called elasmodiver.com (elasmobranchs are sharks and rays).
Lots of conservation groups started asking me to contribute images for their causes. I was very happy to help. Now I spend my free time trying to photograph rare and endangered species because without images, its very hard to get people interested in conservation.
4. Do you think images of sharks can change the way people feel about them? Do they help conservation?
I really do. If you take a majestic image of a shark and combine it with some well chosen words, you can help people appreciate how wonderful and necessary sharks are to the oceans.
5. What has been the most challenging species to photograph?
Some sharks are too rare and timid to find on scuba. I once spent a week in the Darien jungle in Panama trying to find some fishermen that could put me in the water with a scoophead shark; a type of small hammerhead. On my final day, the fishermen accidentally pulled up the shark I was looking for and they let me release it and photograph it as it swam away.
6. What is the most amazing part of your job?
I must be the luckiest guy in the world because my day job is running Big Fish Expeditions. I get to dive with the world’s most spectacular sharks, whales, dolphins and all sorts of other big animals. While I am in the field, I always add on some extra time so that I can look for rare species of sharks.
7. What is the most challenging part of your job?
Photographing sharks is always a challenge because they are such shy animals. Even large sharks are usually quite scared of people. Once I have the images, its still very difficult to spread the word about the problems that sharks are facing so its great that I am able to work with organizations like Sharks4Kids.
8. What message do you hope people take away from either your images or your expeditions?
Shark are powerful but extremely vulnerable animals. Even if people are still a little scared of sharks, I really hope that they gain an appreciation of how important it is to protect them.