Web photos by David Benz
Underwater images copyright 2000, Michael Lawrence

Michael Lawrence's life has been a twisting, turning path of wildly divergent careers. He was "a musician for more than 25 years, playing jazz guitar, doing studio and orchestral work, stage shows, arranging and conducting and doing anything else I could to turn jazz pennies into real dollars."

In 1980, Michael did a gig on a cruise ship. Soon after, he learned to dive. "I knew as soon as I stuck my face in the water that it would change my life," he says. Now the camera is his instrument and dive travelers are his audience. He started writing for Skin Diver in 1990 and to date has written more than 150 articles for the magazine.

Michael is also the author of Lonely Planet Diving and Snorkeling Guide to Dominica and is currently working on a new Dive Guide to the Bahamas.

  • February 6, 2000...Nassau - Day 6

    Stuart Cove's.
    Wrecks and scooters and sharks, oh my!

    Today was an exceptional experience. Stuart and Michelle Cove invited David and myself to join them (along with a few other folks from the dive operation) on a trip out to Shark Wall, one of two distinct shark gathering areas off the southwest corner of New Providence. This spot is about 12 miles out on the

    Bubbles the local watchbird.
    Tongue of the Ocean, that deep oceanic trench (6,000 feet!) dipping far south into the Great Bahama Bank. A steeply sloping wall beginning around 50 feet abuts a healthy expanse of reef. On top of the wall, 150 feet from the edge, is the 71-foot former Bahamian Defense Force cutter named the Edmund Williams.

    Ready for the Stuart Cove's shark dive.
    Our first dive is over the lip of the wall, attempting to photograph Stuart and Michelle with a gorgeous stand of Purple Tube Sponges and hoping for a Caribbean Reef Shark to swim between us. While very difficult in most areas (sharks are pinnacle predators due to their uncanny survival abilities-this includes avoiding the unknown), here the sharks' familiarity with divers allows them to simply be a part of the surrounding environment. This extends to gathering at the sound of an approaching boat. By the time we are ready to enter the water, there are 15 sharks gathered at the stern of the boat.

    Stuart and Michelle Cove are absorbed in a passing shark.
    Aided by some bait stuffed in Michelle and Stuart's BC pockets, we go to the edge of the wall, find our setting and prepare for the encounter. I'm not even set up when the first shark cruises between us. Two large Black Groupers are also on the scene and within minutes we have a regular routine rolling, with sharks above, sharks below and sharks between. The weird thing is while at least a quarter million people have taken part in shark dives in the Bahamas without a single attack on a visiting guest, grouper bites are not uncommon. Imagine, groupers may be more dangerous than sharks!

    Divers buzz a wreck and an assembly of sharks.
    Dive two puts it all together. We suit up again, this time with the divers riding Apollo DPVs (diver propulsion vehicles), and head for the Edmund Williams. Stuart places a bait box on top of the wheelhouse and the sharks gather. I place myself astern of the superstructure and there it is, all in one astounding image-the blazing sun acting as a backdrop for an imposing wreck, a squadron of four divers with DPVs and a bevy of sharks circling and darting. Wrecks and scooters and sharks-oh my!

    Atlantis Casino on
    Paradise Island in
    Well, that's the skinny on today's dives. We're off in search of some stewed conch, with a little cracked conch on the side and maybe a bit of fresh conch salad, all washed down with an icy cold Kalik. Stick around for tomorrow's adventures as we continue our quest for the newest and the best in the Bahamas. Ciao!

    Get more info:
    History | Geology | Dolphins
    Sharks | Conch | Blue Holes

    [Day 1 & 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5]
    [Day 6] [Day 7] [Day 8]
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    Abaco Beach Resort Dive Center (800-838-4189)
    Brendals Dive Center International (800-780-9941)
    Dive Abaco Ltd. (800-247-5338)
    Walkers Cay Hotel (800-327-8150)

    Andros Undersea Adventures (800-327-8150)
    Seascape Inn (242-369-0342)
    Small Hope Bay Lodge (800-223-6961)

    Bimini Undersea (800-348-4644)
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    Greenwood Dive Center & Beach Resort (242-342-3053)

    Scuba Chub Cay Undersea Adventures (800-327-8150)

    Exuma Dive Center & Watersports (800-874-7213)
    Peace & Plenty (800-525-2210)

    Grand Bahama Scuba (800-753-7282)
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    Stella Maris Inn (800-426-0466)

    Bahama Divers Ltd (800-398-DIVE)
    Custom Aquatics Ltd. (242-362-1492)
    Dive Dive Dive (800-368-3483)
    Nassau Scuba Centre (888-962-7728)
    Stuart's Cove (888-STU-COVE [788-2683])

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    Sea Dragon (954-522-0161)
    Sea Fever Diving Cruises (800-443-3837)

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    Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (800-866-DIVE)
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