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SALMON SHARKS - LAMNA DITROPIS

Salmon Sharks are a pelagic species of shark that are can be found roaming the open ocean and close to inland waters during migration periods.  Found largely in the North Pacific, between Japan and the west coast of North America.  Female sharks live up to 20 years and mature at 6-9 years of age, while males can live up to 27 years and mature as soon as 3-5 years of age.

Masters of heat regulation to help with bursts of speed in icy waters for prey and to increase their vertical range in the water column.  Salmon Sharks are part of the endothermic Lamnidae family.  Meaning they are able to thermoregulate or maintain a body temperature above the temperature of the surrounding water.  Most other marine life is ectothermic, which means they maintain an internal temperature that matches the surrounding water.  Lamnids have vascular counter-current heat exchangers or retes, that enable them to retain the heat produced by their metabolism.  These retes are located near the muscles used for locomotion and in their viscera or body cavity organs.  They are also able to regulate their temperature using vascular shunts that enable them to alter and re-route blood flow.  Giving them the advantage to raise their internal body temperature anywhere from 10-15 degree's above the surrounding water.

Although curious by nature, these sharks can sometimes be hard to approach without the correct technique.  There are a wide variety of prey fishes that Salmon sharks feed on, which include steelhead trout, herring, sardines, pollock, Alaska cod, tomcod, lancetfishes and mackerel.  But one is the most likely reason for their migratory pattern to Alaska each summer, Pacific Salmon.

  

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salmon shark history

Salmon Sharks have been a frequent visitor to the Sound long before the first European Explores set foot on the shores of Alaska. Recorded stories and photo's go back to the early 1900's of fisherman catching these mighty creatures, as they skirted the coastlines in search of food.

  

In more recent times, biologists have just begun to understand more about these elusive animals.  Although resident salmon sharks can be found throughout Prince William Sound year around, others will mass migrate during summer months to two known area's located along the eastern side of Prince William Sound - Port Fidalgo and Port Gravina.

Each summer these salmon sharks can be seen moving up the coastlines of Port Fidalgo to congregate in an area known as the "Razors Edge".  This deep rocky sub-structure makes ambushing salmon runs relatively easy for them.  And although looking like their larger Great White shark cousins, they don't have as fierce a reputation when it comes to humans.  Divers that frequent the lodge, regularly swim with these creatures without incident.  These sharks have been found to grow to lengths of 10 feet long and 900 pounds. With dazzling displays of acrobatic abilities when chasing salmon, sometimes breaching the water line, 2-3 feet in the air.

Salmon Sharks are relatively warm-blooded.  Their body temperatures are warmer than the surrounding water, making them the hottest bodies in the shark world (in water that's 36 degrees, their bodies can be 61 degrees).  Enabling them the ability for increased bursts of speed to catch their prey.  The U.S. Navy has clocked these icy predators at nearly 50 mph.

 

 

Shark Snorkeling

We are cage free during this tour, so please be aware that you are swimming freely with these large animals.  With that being said, we respect that we are in their environment and practice safety in every detail possible.  Over the years, we've never had an accident and will continue to keep this record.  Shark tours start with a briefing on what to expect, safe practices and do's and dont's of the water.  If guests choose not to follow our direction, they will be kindly asked to depart the water and stay on the boat for the duration of their trip at Ravencroft Lodge.  Your shark wrangler Boone, is trained as a rescue diver.  Both Gina and Boone are CPR, First Aid trained.  And the lodge has an extensive medical kit that includes oxygen and a AED/defibrillator.  But please be aware that we are very remote and help may be hours or days away.  Guests should check with their doctor to ensure they are healthy enought to make the trip.

shark gif

diver with salmon shark        salmon shark with snorkeler

two snorkelers with shark   salmon shark fin   shark snorkelers

        salmon shark

salmon shark gif

 

 

32' Viking Dive Boat

The Viking is great for small groups and is considered a wet cabin allowing divers to enjoy accessing the heated cabin while waiting for the next dive.  It is a 32' catamaran with dual Honda 150 outboard's.  The cabin is equipped with full electronics, bathroom, heat and seating for up to 7 comfortably.  AED & Oxygen medical kit, Life-raft, first aid and all emergency equipment stored inside vessels cabin.  Captain is CPR and first aid certified.  Divers will have tanks filled with lodge's on shore dive compressor.  We end the day at 2pm in order to ensure enough time is given to fill scuba tanks.  Depending on the weather and timeframe.  Our goal for the day is shark snorkel in the morning, with two dives.  But on great shark interaction days, we may only have time for a single dive for the day.  The ratio of shark time compared to "normal diving" is tough to estimate, as it varies day to day.  Some days we have more sharks then we can count.  On those days we will certainly spend more time snorkeling on the surface to increase longer encounters.  On days that sharks remain deeper, we will spend the day with two full dives.  In either case you are bound to see a ton of wildlife both above and below the water.  Shark encounters are performed with the shark wrangler topside, bringing sharks to the boat.  During dive sessions, we use the "buddy system" and do not offer "in water" dive guides, but do give you a detailed briefing so that you can confidently navigate the site with a buddy.  If your group would like to request a dive guide, one can be provided for an additional cost but must be booked at the same time you book your stay.

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Evening Topside Photography skiff rides

After dinner, grab your telephoto lens and look for topside wildlife.  Your guide will take you to known watering holes for prime big game animal encounters.  Possible animal sightings for this time period are Black Bears, Brown Bears, Eagles, Otters, Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and various bird life that include Hummingbirds.  Also, don't forget your wide angle lens for stunning landscapge photography!

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Expedition package itinerary

Trip synopsis: Salmon Sharks have been notoriously hard to find, much less photograph.  But over the years we've created a destination that allow us to say we are the authority on how to find and attract them on a regular basis during their migratory season.  We've helped divers and film crews get epic shots while keeping them safe with constant direction on how to act in the water, to maximize interactions.  During your week, we will primarily focus on shark interactions which occur at specific times in the morning and during specific weather windows each day.  After shark interactions, we will then try to fit in 2 dives during the rest of the day if time allows.  Some days, more time will be spent with sharks, leaving only enough time for one dive.

Package details: 7 day/6 night Shark Package.  First and last days are travel days.  Includes 5 total days snorkeling/diving, meals, weights, 2 tanks and refills each day.  Transportation from Valdez, AK to the remote Ravencroft Lodge and back is also included. Accomodations are double occupancy.  Evening shore-side skiff excursions available if requested (weather dependent) to look for massive brown bears.  Self-guided kayaks/paddleboards available at lodge for evening use. Alcohol/soft drinks, large heavy snacks & gratuities not included.

Travel details: Fly to Anchorage, AK.  Then fly on a smaller commercial flight to Valdez, AK.  We recommend that you arrive a day before and leave the following morning from your departure day from the lodge.  Divers arriving the day before allow for weather delays into Valdez, AK that may happen from time to time.  But arriving early allows you to take advantage of visiting Valdez and Solomon Hatchery where bears, sea lions and eagles can be found feasting on salmon runs.  Ask for more details.

Disclaimer: Remember that sharks are free to roam the open ocean and are pelagic animals.  They are not caged and thus not released by us at specific times during the day to ensure sightings.  So please keep in mind that interactions are highly likely during the week, but not guaranteed.  But that's the magic of each encounter and makes it incredibly special!

  • Group Size: 12 person
  • Time Period: May to July
  • Tour Focus:  Salmon Shark Snorkeling
  • Day 1 - Travel day from Valdez, AK to Lodge.  Depart at 12pm. Lunch not included.
  • Day 2-6 Shark snorkeling in the morning followed by 1-2 dives.  We plan at least two dives per day (except travel days), but an exact number of dives cannot be given.  It all depends on weather conditions and amount of time spent with sharks. On this expedition, shark time has priority over diving time.  Day ends at 2pm and travel back to lodge. 2pm-6pm is free time while tanks are refilled. One hour group skiff excursions after dinner to look for topside animals.
  • Day 7 - Travel day back to Valdez, AK.  Depart Lodge at 9am for Valdez.

Trip Highlights

snorkeling with salmon shark   coldwwater diving   brown bear