SD Expeditions filming ‘Deadly’ with Steve Backshall and the BBC

Photos and words by Kyle McBurnie

The SD Expeditions blog has been on a bit of hiatus for a little while – we’ve had a very strong summer and have been busy through and through, but it’s begun to slow down now so we’re back!
We’ll be updating the blog with our adventures and expeditions that occured throughout late June and July – and it was all really kicked off with the BBC.

The crew gets ready for our epic San Diego ocean sequences!

We began by diving in our beautiful California kelp forests off La Jolla Cove, but were greeted by less than stellar conditions, and after a couple checkout dives decided to move to the outer kelp for some cleaner water. During the BBC’s sejour in California, we endured some interesting currents and prevailing winds that resulted in a whole number of black sea nettles being blown inshore, a possibly reason for the huge numbers of Mola-Molas we also saw.

Luke, the cameraman, scuba diving to film a gorgeous sequence of a black sea nettle just off La Jolla Cove.

After a day of decent visibility, we regrouped to discuss the following days’ plan. SD Expeditions was to be teaming up with our good friend Danny at Yellow Charter Boat Inc., to take the BBC and Steve out for a day with the blue and mako sharks!

After loading up all the camera gear onto Danny’s boat, we headed out towards the 9-mile bank

We didn’t make it far before an interested pod of bottlenose dolphin decided to stick around just long enough for the crew to get into the water. Between hustling to get suited up and find everyone’s masks and fins, we managed to get the cameraman and Steve in the water. To our excitement, the dolphin stuck around for about 20 minutes, frolicking and breaching all around us!

It wasn’t long before the sharks began to show up…

Our first shark was a mako, but didn’t stick around for very long – this was our first blue shark.

If ever there was a day to have epic encounters, it was that day. We began with a 5′ mako shark, who besides our best efforts never got comfortable enough with the situation and didn’t stick around when we got in the water with him. We hopped back out, and before Danny could even finish heating up his delicious tomato soup, we were greeted by two amazing 5′ blue sharks who had no intention of ever leaving the boat.

Luke dove down to get some unique angles and perspectives, and the two amazingly curious blue sharks were never far behind.

After enjoying our two blue sharks for an hour and a half, we decided to take a break for lunch, after which two more 5′ makos decided to show up – and stick around to provide the film crew with the footage they needed. Right about 5:00pm, the most largest and most beautiful shark we’ve ever had on one of our shark trips showed up – a BEAUTIFUL 9′ female.

She stuck around for ages, and was not at all perturbed by divers in the water.

She was gorgeous. With little imperfections, scars, and discoloration along her body, you could tell she had been around for a little while. Even with Nick, myself, Luke and Steve in the water she was not at all bothered by our interactions, and was happy to swim from diver to diver, to the boat and then the chum buckets. As the sun descended, we decided to bid farewell to our beautiful shark and head on home.


After another day of shooting out in the kelp forest, we finished up on Danny’s boat having had a great day of shooting and a very successful trip overall.