After our trip to the northern Bahamas by live-aboard earlier in the month in search of hammerheads, we set out last week on a shoot to the Bahamian island of Andros, further south, in search of Blue Holes and Silky sharks at the AUTEC Buoy. The U.S. Navy's Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) maintains several buoys anchored in 6,000+ feet of water in an area called the "Tongue of the Ocean" where they test sonar. These buoys, being isolated structures in a vast empty open ocean, almost always have fish around them. Sometimes sharks. Sport fishermen know these buoys as hot spots for Marlin, Wahoo, Mahi and tuna. They also know that sometimes it's hard to get a hooked fish to the boat because the sharks eat them. These particular sharks are Silky sharks--creatures of the open ocean. We wanted to do a segment on the AUTEC buoys and the marine life around them. Unfortunately, there were very few fish and no sharks at all on both days we had scheduled for the shoot. In technical terms, we were "skunked." (You can read a story about my adventures in the past at the AUTEC buoy here.)
Fortunately for us, the blue holes don't move like the sharks at the AUTEC Buoy, so they make pretty reliable subjects. Blue holes are ancient holes eroded into the limestone that look like craters. Some are above water and some were formed when the sea levels were lower (during the last ice age) and are now underwater. They are often openings to huge cave systems. We dove and explored a couple blue holes and their caves. The result will be a fantastic segment on the geology and chemistry of these amazing formations. And yes, they are super cool to dive! We had a blast with the filming!
We would like to offer a special thanks to Small Hope Bay Lodge for hosting us! What a wonderful place to visit. We left feeling like family. If you ever get a chance to go diving there, you will not regret it!
Captions for images:
1: "Cameraman Tim" using the old trash bag trick for shooting in the rain.
2: Jonathan on one of the AUTEC buoys.
3: Tim shooting
4: The Guardian blue hole from the surface.
5: The crew at the end of the shoot: Mia Peluso (Production manager), Tim Geers, and Jonathan.