Andy Murch Shark Photographer
Andy Murch is a fanatical big animal diver. He has photographed and dived with more sharks than most people on this planet and he's very good at it. Andy's images and shark stories have appeared in hundreds of books and magazines around the world for titles as varied as Canadian Geographic, Scuba Diving, FHM, Digital Photography, and the Journal of Zoology.
What do you enjoy most about diving in Japan?
I'm very excited to have an opportunity to dive in Japan because there are so many different shark species that are here. I think that people are surprised at how much diversity there is in Japanese waters.
What sets Japan apart from other diving destinations?
I think that compared to many places around the world, like if you go to Palau or Truk or one of these beautiful islands in Southeast Asia in the middle of the Pacific, Japan is just so easy to get to.
So, I really like the access that I get. And then once you get to Tokyo, you don't have to go miles and miles to reach the dive sites. They're literally just a couple of hours from the city.
The diving here is really well-organized. The dive shops are incredibly efficient. They do a great job of preparing everything so that the dives are very safe. I think that's just something that you don't find in that many places, so it's really enjoyable to be here and see that.
What might surprise people who are diving in Japan for the first time?
I think the first thing is they're shocked by the abundance of marine life. The health of the reefs, the diversity of the animal life, and the fact that Japan sits in this confluence of currents where you've got cold water coming down from the north, warm water pushing up from the south. You just get this soup of all of these different species that live here, and I think everybody goes away with a smile on their face after they see that quality of diving that they don't expect.
What marine life do you particularly enjoy in Japan?
Personally, I love sharks.
As you know, I'm a big shark fan. I photograph many many species of sharks around the world. That's my primary purpose to come here, but as well as sharks, I've also been to Yonaguni to photograph the underwater ruins. I've been to the Kerama Islands to photograph macro.
There’s just so much diversity, but the macro life, as well as the sharks, is definitely worth coming here to see on its own. I mean, when I was in Kinki last year I was able to photograph 48 species of nudibranch in a week. I thought it was quite an amazing thing to be able to see that much diversity of macro life.
What most impresses you about the diving experience in Japan?
The level of professionalism here amongst the dive shop employees is second to none.
The staff are not only extremely friendly, they're also very caring. The divemasters, both underwater and when you're preparing all of your stuff before the dive, are very careful to make sure that that you're safe the entire time, that you're having the experience whether you're on more advanced dives here in Mikomoto or whether you're doing perhaps some easier dives in shallower water somewhere else in an inshore Bay. The Japanese professionalism is excellent.
Your message to somebody who is considering Japan as a diving destination?
I would say this should be one of the top ten places on your bucket list around the world.
Whether you want to dive with big animals or whether you want to see small stuff, whether you want just an easy couple of days in a shallow warm reef in the summer or you want a fantastic full-on adventure, Japan has everything.