Diving Thrills with Huge Fish at Guy Harvey Outpost in Mexico

September 25, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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makodredge1 (2)By Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost Staff Writer


It looks just like a giant, wide-open front-end loader plowing the surface of the Caribbean Sea, except it’s ALIVE.  A 15-foot long whale shark — one of hundreds that gather annually from June through mid-September in the waters around Isla Mujeres, Mexico–is sucking up its dinner of plankton as a horde of enthralled snorkelers hovers nearby to watch.  The calm, placid giant– broad and brown with white dots– pays them no mind and cruises slowly along, feeding on the spawn of bonitos with its huge dorsal fin sticking up out of the water.  A few feet away, a six-foot- wide manta ray joins the buffet line, and the snorkelers’ heads swivel wildly back and forth.

The waters around this small island just off Mexico’s northern Yucatan peninsula are one of very few places in the world where just about anyone can get close-up and personal with the largest fish in the ocean in its natural environment.  And captain Anthony Mendillo of Keen M Blue Water Charters is your best choice for tour guide.

One of the region’s pioneering whale shark tour operators, Mendillo zealously protects these charismatic creatures and delights in introducing them to visitors.

“The whale shark dive is so cool because the whole family can enjoy it,” he said.  “Children can go.  You don’t have to be a professional diver or a professional naturalist to appreciate the magnitude of the experience.”

Indeed, the Mexican government prohibits scuba diving with the whale shark aggregation; only mask, snorkel and fins are allowed.  Visitors are not permitted to touch the animals or use flash photography.

Although the 2015 whale shark season has wound down, Isla Mujeres and Keen M offer other unique topwater and underwater opportunities:  snorkeling with sailfish and cage-diving with mako sharks.

From January through early March, Keen M boats escort their customers to the catch-and release of up to 50 sailfish per day on rod-and-reel  by homing in on seabirds diving on schools of sardines that form tight bait balls.  After everyone’s arms are worn out from reeling in sails and letting them go, it’s time to jump in and check out the spindlebeaks’ living room.

“I have people who catch a double and now they’re down there in their underwear ready to jump in,” Mendillo said.  “It’s a very happy medium when a guest can say, ‘I saw a sailfish eat a sardine; now I know how to hook them.'”

The occasional wahoo has been known to join the sails in crashing the bait balls, adding to the excitement.

For the extremely adventurous, Keen M offers cage-diving with mako sharks that cruise the region in March and April.  If you go, you just may spot a mako sporting hardware on its dorsal fin.  That’s because Guy Harvey and colleagues from Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center have implanted several with tags to track their movements.

Your headquarters for diving and fishing in Isla Mujeres is the Hotel Playa Media Luna, a Guy Harvey Outpost Expedition Lodge.  There are plenty of openings for 2016.


Sue Cocking chronicles the Guy Harvey Outpost travel and adventure experience in regular blog posts on GuyHarveyOutpostNews.com/.  For 21 years, Cocking covered the full spectrum of outdoors adventure opportunities in South Florida and beyond for the Miami Herald, including fishing, diving, hunting, paddling, camping, sailing and powerboat racing.  She is a certified scuba diver and holder of an IGFA women’s world fly fishing record for a 29-pound permit.

High Tea with Bimini’s Hammerhead Sharks

May 27, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Bimini, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Outpost Ltd., Hammerheads | Leave a comment
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It looks pretty ferocious swimming straight at me – 13 feet of smooth cartilage and muscle topped by rows of jagged teeth and a wide mantle with unblinking black eyes on either end.  But this great hammerhead shark could not care less about me or any of the other guest scuba divers kneeling in the sand a short distance from Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center in the Bahamas.

Instead, the animal’s gaze is trained on Grant Johnson and his aluminum box full of fish scraps.

It glides unhurriedly up to Johnson, who pushes a piece of fish toward it with a PVC staff.  The shark gulps the morsel and moves on, giving the next hammerhead a turn at the feed trough.  It goes on like that 25 feet deep on the sand for nearly two hours, as three more hammerheads–all bearing streamer tags in their dorsal fins–join the rotation.

The apprehension I felt early on soon gives way to awe and enchantment at having a front row seat as one of the ocean’s fiercest predators enjoys an afternoon snack.

It occurs to me that if more people could observe this underwater version of 4 p.m. high tea, then perhaps sharks wouldn’t suffer from such a widespread public relations problem. Johnson, who used to work at the Bimini Biological Research Station (known locally as the ‘shark lab’), serves as the animals’ local spokesman– educating guests on their importance to the marine ecosystem and trying to take the fear factor out of interacting with them.

Hammerheads are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as globally endangered.  When their numbers plummet, the marine environment suffers.  As apex predators, they cull the weak and sick from the world’s oceans and ensure fish stocks remain healthy and balanced.

Although hammerheads are protected in Florida, the Bahamas and some other areas, they travel great distances to other waters, as shown by data from satellite and streamer tags implanted by scientists.  In many of these areas, they are subject to being killed indiscriminately.

An up-close encounter with these magnificent animals can change hearts and minds, inspiring the formerly uninitiated to want to conserve them.  And that’s what Johnson and his colleagues are doing every day out on the waters surrounding Bimini.

The Guy Harvey Great Shark Race – Competitive Conservation

February 5, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Conservation | Leave a comment
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Businesses and individuals can sponsor and name their own shark and watch online as it races other tagged sharks.

Davie, FL – February 2, 2015 – The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) at Nova Southeastern University, one of the world’s leading shark research groups, are launching the Guy Harvey Great Shark Race (GSR). This race allows businesses and individuals to sponsor sharks through the purchase of satellite tracking tags. These tags enable researchers and the public to follow these sharks online in near real-time. Whoever’s sharks travels the furthest in six months wins a Florida Keys fishing vacation.

Great Mako Race 2015

The GSR kicks-off on April 2, 2015 after GHRI researchers return from an expedition to Isla Mujeres, Mexico to deploy satellite tags on mako sharks. The second leg of the race starts on June 1, 2015, when researchers will be in Grand Cayman to tag oceanic whitetip sharks. The Smart Position or Temperature (SPOT) tags utilize the latest in tracking technology to allow researchers and the public to follow the sharks online in near real-time.

According to the IUCN, one-third of open ocean shark species are threatened with extinction. The data gathered in this race allows researchers to better understand the migration patterns and habitat utilization of these apex predators. This information is key to knowing where these sharks live and which areas should be protected.

“This is a great way for people to get directly involved with this cutting-edge shark research,” says world renowned marine artist and scientist Guy Harvey. “Plus, participants can promote their support and have bragging rights as family, friends and business associates follow their own shark online.”

All participants will receive a custom GSR certificate featuring the name of their shark, limited edition GSR artwork signed by Guy Harvey and publicity to the 750,000+ Guy Harvey social media followers. The sponsor of the winning shark will receive a fishing trip for two at the Islander Resort, a Guy Harvey Outpost, in Islamorada, FL. Sponsors of tags that last one-year long receive a signed copy of Guy’s Book Fishes of the Open Ocean. For more information, visit www.GreatSharkRace.com.

Aerial Oceanside

For those looking to catch their own shark to tag, Guy Harvey Outpost Expeditions is offering the opportunity to fish along-side the GHRI researchers and have a front row seat on the water as their shark is wrangled, tagged and released. For more information, visit www.GuyHarveyOutpost.com/Expeditions or 800-513-5257 or reservations@guyharveyoutpost.com

About Guy Harvey Outpost

Guy Harvey Outpost seeks to foster sustainable ecotourism with reciprocal benefits – both for customers and for the residents of these communities living amidst waterfront settings of unique heritage. The brand mission is to inspire guests to travel with friends and family to unique destinations, promote sustainable tourism and the stewardship of resources for the benefit of guests today, and those who follow in the years to come, and to engage guests in environmentally responsible and memorable recreational activities that instill life-long memories and shape individual growth. For more information, visit www.GuyHarveyOutpost.com.

About Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation

Founded by world renowned marine artist Guy Harvey, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation funds scientific research and educational programs aimed at conserving the marine environment. It is the mission of the GHOF to help ensure that future generations can enjoy and benefit from a naturally balanced ocean ecosystem where fish, and other marine wildlife, flourish. For more information, visit www.GuyHarvey.com/ocean-conservation.

About Guy Harvey Research Institute

Established in 1999, the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) is a collaboration between the renowned marine artist, scientist and explorer, Dr. Guy Harvey, and Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center. The mission of the GHRI is to provide the scientific information necessary to understand, conserve, and effectively manage the world’s marine fishes and their ecosystems. For more information, visit www.nova.edu/ocean/ghri.

For Immediate Release 

Contact:               Greg Jacoski


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Guy Harvey Film, Research Inspires North Vancouver Mayor to Support Shark Fin Ban

October 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Posted in Art, Conservation, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Guy Harvey Outpost Ltd., Marine Science, Sharks | Leave a comment
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NOTE: The following article appears courtesy of Huffington Post Canada.

A wave of bylaws banning the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fin products has swept across the province of British Columbia this past month. North Vancouver joined Port Moody and Coquitlam in introducing a ban on shark fin soup in restaurants, a popular Asian dish that supports a vast industry that is decimating shark populations worldwide and threatens many species with extinction.

Interestingly, Artists for Conservation played an important role in this policy change. Last year the mayor of the city of North Vancouver, Darrell Mussatto, attended the first annual Artists for Conservation Festival on Grouse Mountain. It was there where he first met legendary marine artist Dr. Guy Harvey, a leading advocate for the shark-fin ban, and founder of the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI).

Dr. Harvey’s documentary “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” premiered at the festival last November and Mayor Mussatto had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Harvey about his efforts to save sharks from extinction through his film. That encounter inspired him to support a shark fin ban in his city last month.

Read the Full Article

The Raw Power of the Oceanic White Tip Shark

July 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Posted in Bahamas, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Guy Harvey Outpost Ltd., Marine Science, Marlin, Sharks | Leave a comment
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While on a joint Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation/Guy Harvey Research Institute Expedition off Cat Island in the Bahamas, Guy Harvey and friends filmed the aftermath of an encounter between a hooked marlin and hungry oceanic white tip sharks. Watch this clip to see why sharks are at the top of the aquatic food chain, then use the discount code “Emma” to save $5 off the purchase of the award-winning film, “This is Your Ocean: Sharks”.

China Bans Shark Fin Soup from Official Banquets

July 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Posted in Conservation, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Guy Harvey Outpost Ltd., Marine Science, Sharks | Leave a comment
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Big news from Ground Zero in the battle over shark fin soup and the international shark fin trade! Chinese media is reporting that the Chinese government has banned shark fin soup from being served at all official government banquets. The ban will not be immediate, but the move is a huge victory nonetheless for the anti-shark finning movement. Here’s the full story from CNN.com:

Hong Kong (CNN) — China is planning to ban shark fin soup from being served at official banquets, in a sign the country may be losing its taste for the expensive delicacy.

According to Chinese media, the Government Office Administration of the State Council said the ban could take up to three years to implement and would help cut the cost of sometimes lavish banquets held for state functions.

The move followed a proposal made during the National People’s Congress in March this year.

Bertha Lo of the campaign group Hong Kong Shark Foundation said the move could potentially reduce the amount of sharks killed given that China is the biggest consumer of shark fin products.

“I think it will have an impact,” she said. “The government in China is powerful and if it takes the lead on this issue, I don’t see why others shouldn’t follow suit.”

Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are estimated to be killed each year, according to a 2006 academic study* quoted on the website of Lo’s group. Their carcasses are usually discarded and campaigners say the practice is wasteful and cruel.

The World Wildlife Fund says that 181 species of shark are under threat, up from 15 in 1996.

Shark’s fin soup is widely served in restaurants in Chinese communities worldwide and is a dish often served at weddings to mark the importance of the occasion and impress the couple’s extended families and friends.

But the custom has become less popular among a younger generation of diners, who are more environmentally conscious, says Lo.

Last year, the operator of the high-end Peninsula hotel chain said it would remove shark fin products from its menus and Shangri-la Hotels made a similar move this year.

In Beijing, the five-star Swissotel has also stopped serving shark fin, according to the China Daily.

Outside Asia, legislation banning shark fin has been introduced in five U.S. states including California, which this month also banned the French duck liver delicacy foie gras on the grounds of cruelty.

In China, the campaign against shark fin products has gained steam following pledges by celebrities, such as former NBA star Yao Ming, not to eat the delicacy.

* The academic study cited in this article was conducted by the Guy Harvey Research Institute and Dr. Shelley Clarke.

Award-Winning Shark Film “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” Now Available for Purchase

July 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Posted in Art, Bahamas, Conservation, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Guy Harvey Outpost Ltd., Marine Science, Sharks | Leave a comment
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Limited Time Discount Offer for Guy Harvey Fans

The internationally-acclaimed shark documentary, “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” – winner of the prestigious MacGillivray Freeman Films Special Achievement Award in Environmental Filmmaking at the Newport Beach Film Festival – is now available for purchase for the first time. For a limited time, Guy Harvey fans get a $5 discount off the purchase price by entering “Emma” as the coupon code when ordering.

Three of the world’s top artists shatter your perception of sharks in this award-winning film festival hit. THIS IS YOUR OCEAN: SHARKS follows WylandDr. Guy Harvey and Jim Abernethy as they plunge into the waters of the Bahamas to paint a new picture of sharks. There you’ll learn why it’s critical to protect the ocean’s remaining sharks – and what will happen if we don’t. You’ll also meet Emma, a 14-foot tiger shark. With breathtaking footage shot on location around the world, and break- through discoveries, it’s an adventure that will have you seeing sharks very differently.

NATURE: Shark species more diverse than thought

June 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Posted in Conservation, Guy Harvey, Marine Science, Sharks | Leave a comment
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Up to 79 new species discovered

NOTE: This post was excerpted from an article on Nature.com.

A genetic study of thousands of specimens of sharks and rays has uncovered scores of potential new species and is fuelling biologists’ debates over the organisation of the family tree of these animals. The work also raises the possibility that some species are even more endangered than previously thought.

Sharks and rays are key predators in marine ecosystems, but the life cycles and population numbers of many species remain poorly understood. The family tree of these animals — which are part of the elasmobranch subclass — has proved similarly opaque, with little agreement among researchers over their evolutionary relationships.

Gavin Naylor, a biologist at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, and his colleagues sequenced samples from 4,283 specimens of sharks and rays as part of a major effort to fill the gaps. The team found 574 species, of which 79 are potentially new, they report in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History.

Naylor says that he was “flabbergasted” by the result, especially because the sequencing covered only around half of the roughly 1,200 species thought to exist worldwide.


Venezuela Bans Shark Finning, Establishes Shark Sanctuary

June 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Posted in Conservation, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Guy Harvey Outpost Ltd., Marine Science, Sharks | Leave a comment
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NOTE: This post was excerpted from an article by Douglas Main on OurAmazingPlanet. Click here to read the full article.

Some much-needed good news for sharks has come from Venezuela this week: The South American country announced it is banning shark finning in its waters and has established a new shark sanctuary.

The country became the last in the Americas to outlaw the practice of cutting off the fins of live sharks and tossing the animals back into the ocean to slowly die.

The country also has created a sanctuary where several important shark species breed, outlawing commercial shark fishing there. The sanctuary consists of 1,440 square miles (3,730 square kilometers) of the Caribbean Sea surrounding the Los Roques Archipelago, a popular tourist destination.

SHARK! Exhibit Now Showing at the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale

June 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Posted in Art, Florida, Guy Harvey, Guy Harvey Outpost Ltd., Marine Art, Marine Science, Sharks | Leave a comment
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‎Four hundred species and over 70 artists – including Guy Harvey – are represented in the new “SHARK!” exhibit at the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale.

According to the MOAFL web site, the exhibit “is guest curated by acclaimed wildlife artist, author and environmentalist Richard Ellis, who is working to bring together both art and science in documenting the world’s never-ending fascination with these celebrated creatures of the sea. In addition to drawings of all the known varieties of sharks in the world, the exhibition contains photographs, sculptures, and video as well as a section devoted to the sensational impact of the 1975 Steven Spielberg film Jaws.”

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