Sharks, Rays & Marine Life in Chiba Penisula, Japan

From our perspective, Banded Houndsharks are the main attraction of the reef we spent 3 days diving on. Of course there is always other life on a reef. Three rays we were able to photograph were the Red Stingray, the Thornback Ray and the Japanese Butterfly Ray. The Banded Houndshark and the Red Stingray hang out together competing for the same food source. These two look like they are best buds!

Shark & Ray

A couple of  unusual fish that we came across were the Guitar Fish and the Asian Sheepheads Wrasse. Of course there are always the Moray Eels.

If it wasn’t for the sharks we would have spent more time photographing the reef. The underwater strobes bring out some of the bright colours of the marine life.

Reef

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Sharks of Chiba Peninsula, Japan

Chiba Peninsula in Japan is home to numerous varieties of shark. Banded Houndsharks, seen in the video of our last post, are the most numerous in the location where we are diving. We have seen hundreds on most of our dives.  Big Fish Expeditions has organized this trip and the local dive company we are diving with is Ito Diving Service Bommie (known as Bommies) and is owned by Kan Shiota. Kan has been indispensable assisting us on every dive. Here Kan is giving the dive briefing along with Kenji Ichimura. Kenji has been part of our group from the beginning and has acted as chauffeur, dive guide, and most important, our interpreter. Meals and menus would have been a challenge without him so thanks Kenji!Kan & Kenji (2)

The dive boat behind us is just a short 5 minute ride to the dive site. The gear after the dive is ready to go back to the shop. Amazing what you can store in these tiny pickup trucks!

 

Of course the highlight of the trip are the Banded Houndsharks. There are literally hundreds of these beautiful sharks at this site. Although typically shy, they will come near you, if you stay in one place. Tricia, as you can see is making some new friends.

Tricia with Banded Houndsharks

However, their generally shy and cautious nature can change in a moment when food is around. There can be a hundred in a feeding frenzy all jostling for position. It is a bit surreal to swim through them when this is going on but they are only interested in the food, not divers.

Feeding Frenzy

In amongst the Banded Houndsharks are curious & often pushy Red Stingrays who we felt a number of times brushing against our heads. It is interesting to see the vibrant yellow markings on the underside of their body. As Larry swims off to locate some more sharks I captured this picture.

Larry & Red Stingray

 

Shark Scramble

Mission accomplished! We came to Japan to photograph Banded Houndsharks and wow did this dive ever deliver! Watch this video clip to experience a bit of what we saw on our dives today.

 

Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

Our trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico to swim with whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) was all we hoped it would be.  The visibility here is better than some other locations as whale sharks come to Isla Mujeres to feed on Bonito (tuna) eggs which are clear, unlike other areas in the world where they feed on plankton.

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Although we were focussed on whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) it is not uncommon to find manta rays in the same areas. On our 3rd & 4th day we had fewer encounters with the whale sharks but found areas where there were also manta and mobula rays. We had some great encounters with these rays!

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One of the photography techniques we would like to perfect is Over-Under such as this one.  Over-Under photos are tricky as you need to take into account the lighting and focus of both below and above the water line.Whale Shark over under (1)-2

Whale Shark Facts:

  • they are called the Gentle Giants for a good reason as they can grow to over 40′ in length & weigh up to 21.5 tons (47,000 lb)
  • they are filter feeders and feed mostly on plankton, copepods, krill, fish eggs as well as small crabs & fish
  • their life expectancy is 70 to 100 years
  • they reach sexual maturity at 30 years and give birth to live young
  • they prefer to stay near the surface but can dive down to 5000′
  • they have no natural predators and humans are their only threat to survival
  • their mouths can grow to over 4.5′ wide
  • they filter an average of 1,500 gallons of water every hour
  • they are highly migratory but swim very slowly