The team of adventure-seeking divers, the producers of exploration channel “Brave Wilderness,” had just finished their first-ever shark dive at world-famous Tiger Beach off the coast of West End, Grand Bahama.
Already charged with excitement and adrenaline from the life-changing experience of bonding with massive tiger sharks, they were about ready to pull anchor and ship out. One thing they had hoped for but missed out on, though, was to witness the iconic species of shark: the hammerhead.
Video producer Mark Vins thought of flying his drone camera one last time before turning in. Aiming the camera down from high above the boat, sharks could be seen swarming like little worms in the crystal-blue waters.
That’s when he spotted it. At twelve-o-clock, like a lone wolf, the characteristic silhouette resembling a hammerhead was seen meandering in, towards the group of tiger sharks.
In a flurry of excitement, the divers geared up for another dive, and were plunging in.
Upon sinking down to the white sands on the ocean floor, seeing the tiger sharks again was like greeting old friends. There were also three other shark species there: reef sharks, nerf sharks, and lemon sharks. It wasn’t the divers’ first shark dive anymore, and so they were weary, but comfortable—this time they had just one mission: find the hammerhead.
There are nine known species of hammerheads (Sphyrna mokarran), the largest being the great hammerhead, the largest of which can be 20 feet long and over 1,000 pounds.
When the guest of honor didn’t show up, Vins began to think he’d misjudged his sighting … that is, until he looked up and saw the unmistakable T-shape of a huge, great hammerhead.
The unique shape of its head is what gives the hammer head its predatory advantage, maximizing the surface area of its face, allowing for more electro-receptors, called ampullae of lorenzini, which detect prey.
Not only was the hammer head big—15 feet in length—but it was also vigorous. It turned toward Mark in a flurry and darted at him with lightning speed before suddenly veering.
And seeming to take a cue from this display of acrobatics, the tiger sharks, too, began putting on a show of dexterous tricks. It was the experience of a lifetime and then some.
The “show” lasted for about an hour before the hammer head, whose very presence is incredibly rare around Tiger Beach, took a bow and went off into the distance.
The team broke the surface, cheering, hardly able to believe their senses. “Is this real life? Did that just happen?!” Mark exclaimed.
“The bond I formed with those sharks is unmistakable,” Vins shared. “They have indeed changed me forever.”
After encountering the “extraordinary” hammer head, Vins announced how the encounter had inspired him. “From here forth, I am committed to being a champion for their preservation,” he said, “a true believer on a mission to educate through the lens of my camera.”