Andy Murch

Shark Dives of Japan's Southern Honshu

May 11, 2019 - 15:19
The story is found: 
on page 36

For a relatively small nation, Japan has an exceptional degree of marine biodiversity—especially among sharks and rays. Exotic elasmobranchs can be encountered virtually anywhere along the meandering coastline of southern Honshu (Japan’s large central island), but there are a handful of hotspots that shark fans should try not to miss.


Ito is a quaint little fishing village near Tateyama in Chiba Prefecture. From Ito’s tiny harbor, the ocean appears calm and tranquil, but a few hundred meters from shore, there are so many banded houndsharks that they block out the sun.

Japan's Kinki: Macro Mecca of Honshu

December 06, 2018 - 09:01
The story is found: 
on page 30

Kinki is a ruggedly beautiful peninsula in the southwest of Honshu, Japan. The area is best known for the Shinto shrines of Kumano, which sit atop forested mountains in the center of the region. Each year, thousands of tourists and devotees undertake a pilgrimage through the mountains to reach the tranquil sanctuary, which is said to be a place of physical healing.

Kinki’s southernmost dive spots are draped in lush soft corals, reminiscent of the tropical reefscapes of Southeast Asia, but Kinki is only “tropical” for half of the year.

Malapascua Island: Where thresher sharks roam

August 31, 2014 - 13:35
The story is found: 
on page 74

As picture perfect as Malapascua is, in a nation of 7,107 palm tree fringed islands, 2.5km long Malapascua wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar were it not for the thresher sharks that treat the island like a spa. Each morning as the sun peeks over the mountains on distant Cebu, Pelagic threshers rise from the depths to be cleaned by reef fish along a deep ledge known as Monad Shoal.

When my plane touched down in Cebu City in the central Philippines, the ground had barely stopped shaking from a catastrophic earthquake that rocked Bohol and Cebu causing severe property damage and loss of life.

Do's and Don't's of Responsible Shark Diving

December 15, 2011 - 22:23
The story is found: 
on page 68
Maybe the concept of ‘responsible shark diving’ sounds a little oxymoronic, but there are many things that you can do to protect yourself and the sharks during your interaction. First and foremost, I can’t stress enough the need to gain as much knowledge as possible about the animals and their environment. To go into the water without at least a basic idea of how the sharks are likely to react is foolhardy to say the least.

If you are participating in an organized “shark diving experience”, you may feel that the operator’s knowledge is sufficient and that you can sit back and watch the show. It’s important to remember that every shark interaction is different.

Seize the Day

October 13, 2011 - 23:33
The story is found: 
on page 76

For centuries, the Diamond Shoals off North Carolina have been collecting shipwrecks. Hundreds of crumpled merchant vessels swamped by Mother Nature’s fury and scores of battle scarred war machines torn apart by enemy shells loom above the otherwise featureless substrate.

Initially, planktonic life forms looking for a permanent home attach themselves to every available inch of real estate. Larger invertebrates like snails and small crabs soon follow and begin grazing on the newly seeded decks.

Stingrays - Winged Wonders of the Canary Islands

October 13, 2011 - 23:32
The story is found: 
on page 58

Los Gigantes is a small fishing community on the west side of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It is named for the enormous cliffs that dominate the shoreline to the north of the village, but the name is equally appropriate for the gigantic rays that frequent the area.

At first sight, the aquatic desert appears to be devoid of life, but appearances can be deceiving. Under thin veils of sand, scores of subtly camouflaged rays and cryptically colored angel sharks lay dormant, waiting for divers to arrive with their tasty treats.

Spiny Dogfish

October 13, 2011 - 23:32
The story is found: 
on page 71

You won’t find Spiny dogfish on most shark diver’s ‘bucket lists’. In fact, the only time that your average diver will come into contact with a dogfish is when it is covered in batter, served with chips and bathed in an artery-constricting amount of salt and vinegar.

Whale sharks for example, are interesting in a Goodyear Blimp kind of way, but they really don’t do much other than swim monotonously forward, mouth agape, consuming copious amounts of plankton.