shark diving blog, video blog, swimming with sharks, eli martinez, eli the shark guy, eli the shark guy martinez, eli shark, shark diver magazine, shark diver

crocodile diving

Journal Notes of our Croc Diving Trip #2

July 6, 2019 - Sitting here at Banco Chinchorro at the end of the day. This was our first day of croc diving and it went well. Gambit showed up to give our friends one hell of a show. Of course, she was not the first to show up, we had a small croc show up, around 6 feet in length and she was a sweet little hot fire. I had not met her before, I don’t think? We also had a third croc come in, one I know I have seen before. It has a crooked jaw and one bottom tooth that sits square in the middle of its face. He also has a big portion of his tail missing. Whether it was bitten off or cut off I am not sure, but it is gone. Just makes it easy to identify the croc from a distance.

A croc named Bobo. His/her tail has been chopped off. Gambit (below) getting a snack.

A croc named Bobo. His/her tail has been chopped off. Gambit (below) getting a snack.


Mark going through footage.

Mark going through footage.

Our guests who joined us had a good time and enjoyed the crocs, not that I didn’t think they wouldn’t. But it is always nice and my favorite part of any trip we do when we know that someone truly appreciates these animals the way I do. We still have two more days of croc diving to go before we head back to mainland. Just happy it was a good day, with a kick ass crossing. Super freaking happy about that. Nothing worse than a shit ass crossing, (last week’s crossing was horrible). Now - all that is left for our day; pour through today’s images ( I think I managed one or two today that I am happy with), eat dinner, super hungry right now, and hit the hammock for a good nights sleep. Till tomorrow. 

July 7, 2019 - 8PM. Today was a tough day for crocs, they just did not want to play. We had them come in, but they did not want to hang around, they were super skittish. They would come in, and within minutes, they would leave. Felt crappy for the boys, because that is why they are here, but that is nature, and you get what you get.  They are all still fired up because of yesterday’s action. We spent about six hours with them, so that was good. But I still wanted some better action for them. The crew from XTC tried super hard to get them to come in, but they just didn’t want to play. We had thunder and rain storms come in hard for a while, which may have contributed to why the crocs did not want to come in? Not sure?

IMG_4666.JPG

The highlights for the day was the dive this morning, we went out hunting for lion fish for bait for the crocs, we ended up killing 19 of them, with a few escapes. Garin, one of our guests hunts lion fish in Bermuda where he lives, so we gave him a spear and it was comedy when he had a few of them escape when he shot at them. Mark recorded a video of it and you can hear Mark laughing and giving him hell when it happened. Love that a bond between these guys and this group is building.

We also visited the ranger station to get a look at the crocs and iguanas on the beach. The iguanas are shedding right now and getting their amazing breeding colors in, they look so freaking beautiful. We played with the crocs on the beach, one of the locals brought some bait out for us and called in the crocs. A couple of them came in. They are obviously bringing them out onto the beach, becuase these crocs came right out of the water at us. 

iguana 2.jpg

I am flat out just a wildlife junky, becuase I was trying to capture images of everything on the island (wildlife); I snapped a couple shots of an anole. They have two species, one comes from mainland Mexico, the other is an endemic species. I captured a picture of the mainland species. My next trip out is this coming August, I will try for the endemic one. One of my favorite things about the island is it’s an amazing place for a hard to find warbler species; Mangrove warblers. Every time I visit the island, my goal is to try and capture better and better images of these cute little birds. On this trip, I captured a picture of a female mangrove warbler and I snapped a shot of the male last week - I was pretty happy with that shot, but fired up I captured a nice picture of the female as well.

Female mangrove warbler. Below is the male and a pic of the anole.

Female mangrove warbler. Below is the male and a pic of the anole.

Over all a decent day of wildlife, our guests all got some great images of everything we experienced here. I also captured a bunch of video clips, will try to load them onto our youtube channel later. Now we just need some better in water action for our guests, hoping tomorrow (which is our final day), is better.

July 8, 2019 -  It is late as shit, tired and bit on the feeling good side. We returned from Chinchorro. It turned into a super amazing trip. Today we had crocs! In fact we had five different crocs visit us. Our final day was the stuff dreams are made of, our guests had an amazing time and they all captured images they are happy with and spent some quality time with very different croc personalities. Our buddy Greg had just bought a new camera before this trip and happy I was able to help him dial it in so that he could snap some images he was happy with.

From the very mellow Gambit, to the super fiery Pinto. We also had a new croc show up, which was a monster croc. Bigger than Gambit and super thick. We dubbed him Godzilla. He was new to divers and it showed. He was wild and crazy and very bitey. We had to be cautious around him. Hoping he becomes one of the regulars we see, becuase he was fun. Sadly I did not capture any video or stills of him, but hoping he returns in August.

Pinto in her usually very active mood.

Pinto in her usually very active mood.


I was pretty happy to capture hero shots of the boys with the crocs, they all wanted one. It makes for a great reminder of a really fun trip when you have a nice shot of you and the animals. Especially an animal like a crocodile. They are just an exciting species.

A gift from my buddy Christian Kemper. He wrote this book about crocs and gave me a copy of it. It is written in German so I don’t know what is says, but the pics are amazing. Thank you brother.

A gift from my buddy Christian Kemper. He wrote this book about crocs and gave me a copy of it. It is written in German so I don’t know what is says, but the pics are amazing. Thank you brother.

We left the Cabin today (Casa Matraca), and returned to Xcalak. The group loved the trip and that makes me happy. They hated leaving, but didn’t mind returning to civilization for a shower and a beer.

July 9, 2019 - Went out for a morning dive to try and find manatees. On last week’s trip we found them, which was way over due for me. I have been diving here for five years and I’ve never seen one. So it was a massive relief for me to finally capture an image of one. Sadly we didn’t see one this morning. Our group was just thrilled to get wet this morning. Diving is always a great way to start your day.

I am writing this while waiting for Andres, our driver to pick us up and take us to Playa del Carmen for our final night of the trip. I had a lot of fun with this group, the boys got on well and there was a lot of back and forth jabbing at each other. Always makes the trip a lot fun when that happens…

IMG_4742.JPG

July 10, 2019 - Last night we celebrated the end of the trip together, and laughed into the night. Such a great way to finish off this fun and amazing adventure. Thanks again to our friends who joined us out here and thank you to XTC, our host operator for always kicking ass for us… Until August and to my buddies, safe travels home, miss you guys already and till the next one.

Mark is missing from the picture becuase he had to leave early, but we have his passport in the pic. He was there in spirit.

Mark is missing from the picture becuase he had to leave early, but we have his passport in the pic. He was there in spirit.

Mexico Madness... Our Summer Continues.

Hey guys, so I have been super behind on blogs and vlogs and updates. So sorry about that, the craziness of our summer has begun and it is hard trying to keep everyone up to date on what we have been doing and where we have been going. Well, it is a bit easier on our social media pages, because we can drop an image to share what we did that day or week. It is fast and easy. So if you are not following us on Facebook and Instagram, get on it.

I did post a vlog from our Africa trip, well the first day of the trip. I recorded one everyday and I wanted to do all five days, but I have not been able to. Here is the reason why. Right now, I have been commissioned to provide 50 plus images for one of the big hospitals in our area, which is remodeling their entire first floor, with all new framed images, and I have been given the honor of having our wildlife pictures, of both local wildlife, and ocean wildlife for this project. So for the past month and change, I have been seeking out some of mine, and Sophia’s favorite and best images for this project. It has been super time consuming and a lot of fun. Looking forward to sharing with you guys, this project when it is done.

Anyway, I am almost finished with submitting the images and once that is done, I can try and catch up with more vlogs, blogs, and trip reports, for you guys. I need to write up Africa and Baja orcas (I am so behind). So far I have submitted 40 of the 50 images already to our printer, but I still need 10 more to go. So I promised myself this blog would be short, because I need to finish this up before I leave tomorrow for our second crocodile diving trip to Banco Chinchorro.

croc 3.jpg

This morning, I said good bye to our guests who joined us on the first trip. Writing this on the couch in our (Air BnB) apartment in Mexico. The people you meet on these trips are always cool, and it’s sad saying goodbye. We had a great week with the crocs and it was good to see Gambit again and Fireball, two crocodiles I have gotten to know through the years, they are such amazing animals. I also finally got the chance to finally see a manatee out here, it was an animal I have been really wanting to see but never got the opportunity. It was a long wait- after 5 or 6 seasons, I saw that beautiful mermaid.

manatee.jpg

So, going to stop here because I need to get back at it. And I am going to try and keep you guys updated a bit more on this journey of mine, even if I can’t get to editing vlogs for you guys, I will start writing in this journal more. I have some crazy projects that I want to do and will be sharing as I move forward. But until then, wishing you guys an amazing summer, and I promise to keep you guys posted more.

Images I Shared this week on Social Media

MARCH 10 - 16, 2019
I was going through images this week, I shared on social media. I always try not to repost images I have shared before, so that we are always putting out something new. The thing about social media is, images are lost in time. The speed of news and storytelling is always so fast, especially on Facebook, that most images never get seen. So, I thought I would try something new this weekend and share the images here in a blog.

Well not ALL the images I posted, but just the ones from this week’s stuff. March 10 - 16 to be exact. And just the header images, since I change them out, sometimes daily. Anyway, hopefully you will enjoy this and the short stories that went with capturing the images as well. As always my friends, thank you for reading and viewing my content.


SAIL

SAIL

This capture was from our December trip. I was trying get a different angle of Patches (the great hammerhead). I love this species, their dorsal fins are so impressive. This was the first day we had her on the trip, and it during our morning dive. The thing was, we had crap weather the day before, so there was a lot of debris and sand flying around still. So the images I captured were just coming out horrible. I loved the image, but when I went to process it in photoshop, it was just coming out blah, so I decided to try playing with it in black and white, and it seemed to work. Sometimes, when you think an image is lost, try a little creativity and you never know.

53488072_2216338218389048_7095971346693226496_o.jpg

This was taken on the same day, later in the afternoon when the currents and the dust settled. We were in a very shallow spot, maybe 18 feet deep, and I was coming up at the end of the dive. I was hanging on the down line, after I believe, over an hour long dive and Patches was swimming around. Because of the earlier currents, and the previous days bad weather, the ocean floor was laid out in a beautiful perfect looking pattern. I saw her swimming below and swam out to snap this image of her from above, while she slowly swam by.

Dirty Girl

Dirty Girl

Keeping with the shark theme right now, this is Dirty Girl, one of the larger tigers hanging around tiger beach. The first season, we met her she was a very fiesty girl. Normally the tigers are just fiesty around the feeders, but she was very aggressive around the guests as well. I had to keep a very close eye on her when she would swim in. I later learned, due to the way she was behaving, that she was in season and was maybe lashing out at everyone, believing they were trying to mate with her. And if you ask, how do I know she was in season? There is something tigers do, when they are in season which is super unique, that is hard to explain without video…and she repeatedly did it.

53657276_10219067099017851_6572346337172389888_o.jpg

I am pretty sure I have shared this top image of a mom and calf in the past, however, I think I had shared in on one of my pages, and not all three. Yes I have three FB social media pages, one personal, one for our company, SDM adventures, and one for my photography, Eli Martinez. If you are not following those pages, it is a must… for awesome content, news, stories and a devastatingly handsome photographer! AND NO… I am not biased at all when I say that last bit. lol. Anyway, back to reality and my story…

Visiting Tonga and seeing first hand the relationship between mothers and calves is something you will never forget… you can feel the love in the water. The babies are babies, playing around, dancing, and sometimes breaching. The mothers are normally resting below. The babies need more air then the mothers, so they come up quite often, play for a couple of minutes then return down to her, touching her, getting reassuring nudges from her, and when they rise up together, they are constantly touching and bonding all the way up. It is so damn beautiful.

Another shot I posted this week, here is a good angle to see the touching bond between the mother and calf as she comes up for a breath of air. I snapped this image then had to swim like mad, because they were rising up and I was in their direct path. Well her direct path.

Another shot I posted this week, here is a good angle to see the touching bond between the mother and calf as she comes up for a breath of air. I snapped this image then had to swim like mad, because they were rising up and I was in their direct path. Well her direct path.

53320107_1678177652285375_4399825538097610752_o.jpg

This was a shot from our April 2018 visit to Machu Picchu in Peru. Still one of the coolest places I have ever visited. The magic of this place is indescribable. I wish I had done more homework when we planned the original trip, because there are nearby rainforests that I could of visited for shots at birds, monkeys and bears. Next time… we are planning a return trip to the area, possibly even organizing a trip for it. Between the rainforests and Machu Picchu, it is an epic trip.

54197798_2217850884904448_3338749241941032960_o.jpg

One of my most favorite days in the water. We encountered a pod of spotted dolphins off Bimini. This was during a trip we run for them. We had to cancel this season’s trip, there was not a lot of interest in it. Not sure why? It’s an awesome trip. Anyway, we had a pod of very friendly dolphin’s hanging around for over an hour with us. Super social, some were mating, which I captured with stills. I was on fire about that. This group of dolphins swam up to me and went through me. Of course, I WISH, they would of done that with the sun on my back, instead of in front of me, because it yellowed out this image badly. So if they had done this with the sun on my back I would of had amazingly beautiful blue water, with these dolphins, instead I had this greenish looking tint in the background.

54256359_1679376662165474_3337797374109024256_o.jpg

I tried to get as low as possible when I photographed this giant river otter in the Pantanal, Brazil. It is difficult when you are in a moving boat, trying to photograph a fast moving subject. But with a high shutter speed and ridiculous amounts of sunlight (It was freaking hot and VERY sunny when we encountered these guys), I managed to capture a few images. This was captured while these guys were hunting.

54041427_10219053054346743_5602847733133082624_o.jpg

Macro photography is new to me, but I fell instantly in love with it, when I decided to practice in my backyard, on this tiny guy. This orchard spider is no bigger than a mosquito, but I was blown away with how much color it had. LIKE WHY? Why is an animal so tiny and so colorful, it just didn’t make sense to me. So since this first session, I have gone on a crazed spider kick and will be posting a blog this week on some of my macro images I captured of this tiny predatory animals. The next level for me will be stacking images. I still have a lot to learn about it, but can’t wait to get into it. I know this is different for me, but as I travel on this photography journey of mine, learning how to shoot anything and everything when it comes to wildlife is a must, if I am ever going to be able to help someone improve their photography, especially when they are with us on our travels. I want our guests to have the best experience possible.

53777973_10219046873472225_6115562181397315584_o.jpg

I saved the craziest for last. I went through my crocodile images and found one I hadn’t shared yet from our 2018 expedition. Crocodiles are such amazing photo subjects and are a must for all big animal photographers. They are big and scary looking, mostly slow moving, and will hang around for hours, giving you plenty of opportunities to capture some unique images or behaviors. I absolutely LOVE photographing them. You can do no wrong with these guys.

53852091_10219060796180284_6779887759734603776_o.jpg

So there you go… a few of my images from this weeks posts. Hopefully you like what you see and will comment, share it, or at least give it a thumbs up. Thanks for visiting our website.

Hugs and I will hopefully see you out in the world.
- Eli