Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Shark Diving

Sunday 16th

When I woke up and heard the wind whistling I parted the curtains and peeked out.

The sun was shining bright and strong but. the leaves on the trees were flashing many shades of green as they were shaken up.

I expected a call to say that the day’s job was either not looking possible or would simply be off.

There was no such call.

So, we got in the cars and headed to the boat ramp at Tatapouri a short drive up the coast from Gisborne.

Boyd's boat ready to go into the water.

Stuart tries out the cage, on shore.

Pete from Tourism NZ looking forward to the trip.

The ramp was quite busy with folk going out fishing and preparing to do all sorts of other things in and on the water.

Looking for stingray.

Our barbeque buddies got the two boats into the water.

The sea was calm and glowed many shades of bright green and irridescant blue.

Boyd said as we set off that we would not see such calm water for a while. Off shore the sea dropping over the horizon did not look too bad.

The two boats, Boyd and the helm of our bright yellow one with it’s silver hull and Steve, driving his white houmoroudsly named Aqua-Diziac sped across the water cutting through and bouncing off the water.

We all held on.

Steve's boat on the way to where the sharks are.

There was not much room to move around even if anyone had wanted to, most of the space on the deck and the wheelhouse roof was being taken up by the shark cages.

The shark we all wanted to see was of course a Great White.

There was a possibility that we could see one but it would be unlikely.

The main types that we would probably get a look at are the Mako and the smaller Blue,

Boyd took a call on his radio from another boat out looking for sharks. It was on the way that Boyd had planned so we stopped off.

Bouncing on the sea Boyd and the other skipper had a quick shouted chat.

There were sharks in the area but not many and they had just gone deep.

We got going again and headed to an area of sea above a reef.

When we got to the place Boyd that fancied we might get a sighting his son Stu put out some bait in the form of half a large fish and some chopped up fish in a cuylindical metal tube full of holes.

The sharks can smell a drop of blood in a swimming pool of sea water and smell ripped fish for a couple of miles.

We then waited.

The water was not really choppy but it was moving quite a bit. One moment Steve’s boat would be above us and the nest below.

The conditions were not ideal on top of the sea, however where we were the water was very clear.

Back at the boat we stopped at it was not so clear. That was one of the reasons we did not stay and see what sharks were to be seen there.

As we bobbed up and down we did some pieces to camera, twice.

The first set had been done with the microphone input settigs on the camera swithed to the mic on the camera rather than Nigels mixer.

Schoolboy error by me and Nigel.

Then Boyd spotted a Blue heading towards the bait.

We were in business.

First sighting of a little blue shark.

The main cage for Dan and Israel was in the water already.

I got some shots of them getting in and of the shark which was inspecting the bait cage and boat.

When I was happy that I had enough shots to cover the piece it was time for my cage to go in.

I would get shots looking on the the cage that Dan and Isreal were in and hopefully sharks between us.

Dan had Nigel’s little Go-pro camera to get shots from inside the cage, Boyd was using his set up for shots near the cage.

Nigel and his Gopro.

Boyd's camera on a stick.

Boyd puts it in the water.

Between us there should be plenty of material to make the piece look good.

My cage going in to the water.

When my cage was in and ready I got the underwater housing and was about to go in when I noticed that the camera was not on the correct setting.

I peered at the menus trying to sort it out.

We had been on the undulating water for quite a while and the majority of land lubbers aboard the boat were looking a tad pale and green.

Nigel had a moment of concentrating on his kit which took his eyes away from the horizon.

That was enough to make him taste his breakfast again on its way out.

Was this gong to be my moment?

Phew! No it wasn’t.

We managed to sort out the silly problem with the flick of the correct switch and I could start looking up and out again.

I climbed into my cage which had a variable gap through which I could poke the camera.

Once I was in and happy with the air from the tank tied to the bottom of the cage Boyd and Stu slackened off the tethering rope and I drifted out past Dan and Israel’s cage.

Dan about to go down armed with a baton to fend off any unwelcome shark attention.

There were a couple of Blue sharks circliing around both my cage and the cage opposite.

I started shooting and got some lovely shots of the sharks swimming around peering at us with those erie black eyes.

It was not too easy keeping the camera still because even below the surface the movement of the water was bouncing the cage around quite a bit.

I was down for quite a while getting the shots.

Both Dan and Israel went back on the boat.

Me with the camera on my cage.

Fraser and Pete got a chance to get in to the cage to have a look.

When I had enough material I signaled to the boat.

I was dragged back and went back aboard.

Both Fraser and Pete had come out on the other boat. They would also have to go back on it because when the cages were put back on there would not be room for them.

The problem they had was to get back to the other boat with the sea movement now making it difficult to “raft” the two boats together.

In a sea with sharks nearby and bit littering the water the game pair decided to swim the short distance.

It would be fair to say that their stroke style was a little more frantic than normal and they got across the gap in record time and scrambled on to the other boat.

Pete getting back to the boat.

It was about then that I bent over to pick something up off the deck at the same time as the boat made a bit of a lurch.

It was like a switch in my stomach being flicked. My moment was going to be very soon and there was nothing I could do about it.

I lent over the side waiting for the inevitable end, my mouth filling with the warning taste of preparitory saliva.

It was at that moment Dan decided to go up to the front of the boat and needed past me.

He said, “can I just get passed you Martin?”

I turned towards him as he started to speak giving him a silent green glare and swiftly spun my head back over the side of the boat and heaved long and loud.

“Oh sorry. I’ll just leave you then,” said Dan.

Beside me I saw a slightly pale Israel turn away. I reckon he might have has his moment if he had not.

I felt better straight away apart from the horrible taste in my mouth and the disgusting sicky gunge up my nose.

Looking sea sick is not cool and actually being sick is even less cool.

As far as I could see there were only three people on the two boats who did not exhibit any signs of suffering from the bobbing about.

Stu and Boyd on our boat remained rugged and tanned going about their work, which was fine.

However, it was rather annoying that the dainty Daisy on the other boat was completely unaffected by it all and lay on the bouncing deck taking in the sun.

When we got back to the shore we had all regained our colour and were getting a bit peckish.

Team photo on shore.

We had to go to the airport to catch our flight to Auckland.

On the way we stopped for an ice cream. We thought that Nigel had gone native when he popped up with a couple of magazines.

Surfing off the beach opposite where we stopped.

A little light reading Nigel?

In Boyd’s driveway we packed the kit and said goodbye to him Stu.

Packing the kit.

It was a short flight over more of this beautiful country in a fairly small aircraft.

Our plane for the flight to Auckland.

In these security conscious days you don't see this very often.

More fantastic views.

There were no overhead bins to store the camera. Luckily the plane was not full.

My camera gets its own seat.

Landing in Auckland.

We got to our hotel in Auckland at about 7 pm very happy that it was going to be the last hotel of the trip.

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