Before the construction of lighthouses in the 1800s, North Carolina’s outer banks became the resting place for hundreds of vessels lost during storms. Most of these wrecks are located around Cape Hatteras, in an area also known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
I’m not a wreck diver. So when my friend first asked me to join him on a dive trip to North Carolina, I was unexcited. Then, stories of wrecks covered in colorful soft corals and packed with fish life sparked my interest. But it was the dazzling images of sand tiger sharks covered in baitfish that finally got me to book my trip to Morehead City.
Located close to the warm, nutrient-rich waters of the gulf stream; the wrecks of North Carolina have developed into productive artificialreefs. The best wrecks lie 15-20 miles off-shore and require 2–3 hour boat rides. The area is prone to rough seas, poor visibility and strong currents. Olympus Diving has large, comfortable boats and the practical knowledge to tackle these challenges.
The stars of the show are the sand tiger sharks that aggregate on the wrecks during the summer months. These docile sharks have a unique ecological role; providing constant protection for baitfish, such as round scad (Decapterus punctatus), from predators, such as jacks and tuna. The closer the predators, the closer the baitfish huddle around the sharks. The dynamic behavior between shark and baitfish against the wreck backdrop creates near limitless photographic opportunities and makes these wrecks a truly epic place to dive. Here are my favorite images about North Carolina’s sand tiger sharks: