Tag Archives: snorkel tours

Jim Abernethy: Conservationist & “Shark Whisperer”

You may have seen his footage on the popular Discovery Channel event “Shark Week” or somewhere on National Geographic, but Jim is much more than a marine life cinematographer. Considered one of the top shark behaviorists in the world, Jim Abernethy is often times called the “Shark Whisperer” for his pioneering of the cageless shark dive and the remarkable amount of in-water time he has accumulated with these large predatory animals. Jim’s primary focus on shark conservation arises from his decades-long interaction with these beautiful, and highly endangered, creatures. Abernethy is an award winning underwater photographer, filmmaker, author, business owner, public speaker and philanthropist who works relentlessly to change the perception of human interaction with sharks. Author, publisher, and photographer of the book “Sharks Up Close”, Jim’s work has been used as an educational tool for lobbyists, congress and the US Senate on the topic of shark finning and over fishing. Jim has been featured on many of the world’s top nature filmmakers and magazines such as IMAX, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channels popular event “Shark Week”. In fact, one of the films produced by Abernethy “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” was a winner of the 2012 New Port Beach film festival and 2011 Award Winner for Special Achievement in Environmental Filmmaking.

Abernethy also works with non-profit organizations and his efforts have resulted in the creation of WildlifeVOICE and Operation Blue Pride. Through each of these organizations, Jim works with veterans, children and those who are disabled by helping them experience and learn about the beauty of our oceans. WildlifeVOICE seeks to engage and educate youth, as well as physically challenged people, (Project Seahorse & Rising Tide) by introducing them to our oceans and inspiring them to become “ocean ambassadors.” The mission of Operation Blue Pride is to save both veterans and our ocean’s creatures through in-water activities, wildlife encounters, education, outreach and direct action. On top of his philanthropic efforts, Jim has been an instrumental advocate in getting the Blue Heron Bridge recognized as a marine sanctuary. His efforts have resulted in a massive amount of Diving and Snorkeling Tourism in the town of Riviera Beach. In 2008, Abernethy, in collaboration with Shawn Heinrichs, discovered the world’s largest aggregation of whale sharks in Isla Mujeres, Mexico . This helped an impoverished fishing village become a bustling area sustained by ecotourism.

Jim is an inspirational figure for shark & ocean conservation around the world and has worked diligently to ensure that these valuable natural resources remain in tact for future generations to come. Thank you Jim Abernethy for your astounding efforts in Palm Beach County and around the world!

Check out his video about the Amazing Creatures Under the Blue Heron Bridge above…

 

snorkel tour

My dreams of being a mermaid for a day come true

If you had told me a few months ago that my English degree would have me exploring reefs and swimming with fish I probably would have laughed. But that’s exactly what I got to do this week as part of my marketing internship with SIOC.

Throughout my first week on the job, I’ve been constantly learning new things about the place I’ve called home for over 20 years. Did you know a sea urchin’s closest relative is a starfish? I sure didn’t, but now I am prepared with this very important piece of trivia. As I sat behind my computer writing press releases and doing other things that marketing interns do, our knowledgeable manager and tour guide, Matt (he’s TripAdvisor famous; check it out!), was helping people plan their perfect kayaking trip or telling snorkelers about his favorite spots and pointing out the kinds of fish they might see. And I soaked it all in. I was gaining a whole new perspective on the world of Florida’s waterways.

When I was asked if I wanted to go on one of the snorkel tours to see what it was all about, I jumped at the chance. Any day I get to take my work outside the office and try something new is a good day, so I was humming tunes from Little Mermaid about flipping ones fins as I headed to the back to get out the snorkel gear. I hadn’t been snorkeling since I was about 10, so I was definitely in need of a refresher. Luckily, the other members of the tour were first time snorkelers, so I wasn’t the only fish out of water.

We got down to the beach and Matt showed us the trick of the backwards shuffle to get into the water with fins on. I was grateful there were other divers all doing the same thing, because I definitely felt a little ridiculous. Once I made it through the shock of cold that always comes with getting in the water past your torso though, those fins weren’t so clumsy anymore. There’s no description that quite captures what it feels like to dive under the water, gliding effortlessly, surrounded by the vast silence of blue. But it was magical. If you move just calmly enough, the fish will swim right up to you. I had a parrotfish brush against my fingers while several yellow grunts swam inquisitively up to my mask. Angelfish and sheepshead abounded. Under the water, the rest of the world disappears for a little while and you feel weightless, every movement graceful.

After we got back to the shop however, is when I discovered the greatest part of this whole experience and every millennial’s dream: Instagram worthy photos! Matt had been capturing photos and videos of the tour on his GoPro and was in the process of uploading them to Facebook for us. After all, what good is being a mermaid for a day if you can’t make all of your friends jealous?