worlds ultimate cold water diving expedition
We only offer a few limited spots during peak migration each year to ensure successful interactions with sharks
Free Divers and Snorkelers Welcome
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.
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.
In recent years shark populations have dwindled at an alarming rate. Boone has starting to raise the awareness with citizen science to reach local audiences about the need for conservation before its to late. Sadly, such is the same with sharks around the globe. The most recent salmon shark population survey was conducted nearly two decades ago during the early 2000's. The Hodgins have started a conservation to help fund and collect updated data on where populations are now. See more at www.alaskasharkconservation.com
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.
There are only a limited number of
spots and weeks during their migratory season to see this
elusive coldwater fish. Guests should
know that this trip is not like Tiger Beach where sharks
swarm you, hour to hour. Salmon Sharks
are intelligent but shy and most of the day is spent finding the right one
to interact with. With nearly a decade of
experience in trying different techniques, Boone has become
an expert on attracting sharks and developed a tour that is
only offered during their peak migration period. He uses
proven proprietary methods to bait and attract them and
hosts the only operation in the world
that guests can have the opportunity to swim with them.
There are but a small number of divers/snorkelers that have been in
the water with Salmon Sharks since offering these trips to
the public. So every photo and video
taken is very rare still.
There are but a small number of divers/snorkelers that have been in the water with Salmon Sharks since offering these trips to the public. So every photo and video taken is very rare still.
spring diving in alaska
Alaska enjoys some of the best cold-water diving in the world! During spring diving, our typical water temperatures range from cold days at 36 to warmer days late spring at 55 degree's. Visibility at this time can reach 30-50 feet. Although our tempertures become comfortable in the summer for 7mm wetsuits, we recommend dry suits for all our divers during this time period.
These trips occur during the spring season during the month of May when there is an explosion of food as the snow melts and the temperture starts to rise. The tour revolves around 3 dives each day (weather dependant) with unique activities scheduled during the week. Whale activity is also very common during this month and guests have the best opportunity to see amazing whale breaches in route to diving spots. This is a tour that combines the best of what Alaska has to offer above and below the waterline.
Scuba diving in a coldwater environment will surprisingly yield the same experiences often found in well known warm water destination's like the gold coast of Australia. But the nutrient reach waters surrounding alaska provide fertile grounds for rich invertrbrate life, colorful coral and large marine life. This diverse underwater ecosytem is largely unexplored like its southern Alaska and British Columbia counterparts and some exploratory dives will be conducted to continue to add unique dive spots to our ever-building list of dive locations around the Prince William Sound area.
During your stay, there will also be additional activities and adventures that will enhance the overall trip from just a diving destination to a complete Alaska experience from top to bottom. We are the first to offer these adventures to the world and have a passion for what we do, who we share it with and the awe inspiring place that we call Alaska and home!
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.
Expedition package itinerary
The Salmon Shark migration time period overlaps almost everything we have to offer during the summer!
Trip synopsis: During your week, we will primarily focus on salmon shark interactions which occur at specific times in the morning and during specific weather windows each day. After salmon 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 single occupancy. Self-guided 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.
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!
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: 6 person
- Experience Level: Intermediate - Divers need Advanced Open Water Certification Required, non divers welcome.
- Time Period: Please call, as this is a highly kept secret from local fisherman
- Tour Focus: Salmon Shark Snorkeling
- Day 1 - Travel day from Valdez, AK to Lodge. Depart at 12pm. Lunch not included, so be sure to bring a lunch when you arrive. We'll swing by Columbia Glacier for a quick dip and look for sea lions, whales and otters (weather permitting). Then check into rooms and prep gear, with trip briefing/orientation on shark/diving procedures after dinner.
- Day 2 - Salmon Shark snorkeling in the morning, followed by shake down dive at lodge dock. Day ends at 2pm, free time to 6pm (Hiking, beachcoming or paddleboarding or hang out at the main lodge with other guests).
- Day 3,4 & 5 - Salmon Shark snorkeling in the morning, followed by 1-2 dives (dependent on time spent with sharks). We'll be diving walls, rock formations, salmon creeks as well as looking for jellyfish blooms on the surface. Day ends at 2pm, free time to 6pm (Hiking, beachcoming or paddleboarding or hang out at the main lodge with other guests). Evening of day 5, crew will prep for sleeper sharks.
- Day 6 - Sleeper shark snorkeling in the morning, followed by Salmon sharks and diving until 2pm. Then back to the lodge to dry gear and prep for departure following day.
- Day 7 - Travel day back to Valdez, AK. Depart Lodge at 9am for Valdez.