2015 Begins…But Before it Does.

Eli Martinez
Jan 2, 2015 · 5 min read

Well it’s over… 2014 was an amazing year, filled with highs and lows. It will be one I will never forget. I have been thinking about writing this blog for a while and have been racking my brain as to what to share? SO much happened this year, too much to share in one blog. I figured that I would just recap a few highlights of my year and the moments that stuck out and meant the most to me;

January — While visiting Tiger Beach a lemon shark named Slash swam up to me while I was by the bait box and jammed her face between my knees and stopped swimming, allowing me to give her a back scratch. She did this repeatedly. This was a new behavior the sharks were teaching me. After 10 years of diving at Tiger Beach, the sharks still surprise me. Looking forward to what I may learn from them in the coming months.

February — We began production for a show I hosted on SharkWeek called Zombie Sharks. I have worked on TV productions before, but this was the first one where I was the main host. It was a lot of fun and extremely special. I love making films and sharing good stories. But more than that are the people you get to meet and the places you get to go when you are out in the world. That is what I love the most about showing people sharks. I love sharing the sharks world and meeting new people that end up becoming family.

April — Flew to New Zealand (for part of the TV show) we were there to dive with the white sharks in South New Zealand. Which was great, a new place where large populations of white sharks can be seen. But what was even more exciting for me was visiting North New Zealand and diving with the orcas there and getting to meet the legendary orca researcher, Ingrid Vissor. She is the World’s leading orca researcher and is an amazing human being. What I have mad respect for is the fact that she combines both her science/study of the animals with actual water time with the orcas, something that seems to be rare in the researcher world. I know a few shark researchers that are considered experts who have spent little to no time in the water with the animals. Just dont understand how that makes them an expert?

Anyway, swimming with orcas has been a dream of mine for a very long time so getting to dive with them in the wild…there really are no words for how amazing and special these animals are. We had a pod of about 6 to 10 individuals near us. The greatest moment for me was when two of the juveniles came, almost within touching distance to see what we were. It truly was such an amazing moment for me. One I will never forget.

June — I got to spend a week with Chris Gillette and Ashley Lawrence (hosts of the TV show Gator Boys) in Banco Chinchorro, Mexico. We were out there to dive with the local population of American Crocodiles there. I spent the days watching Chris work with the animals, soaking in as much as I could to learn more about croc behavior and how to safely interact with them. Their passion and fire for reptiles is pretty contagious and reminds me of my excitement over sharks. Was a great week.

Ok I love diving with big animals and sharks are my life…but my family is everything…so here are a few moments that really stuck out for me on how they embraced what me and their mom do for a living and made this year special. Love them like crazy.

- My 8 year old daughter Sophie was out with us in July during whale shark season. We spent three weeks out there and she was out on the water with me everyday. (all but two days) She got to the point where she was taking my camera from me to shoot video of the sharks. Loved the water bug that she has become.
- My 16 year old son Gabriel got his scuba certification. I know he should of gotten it earlier but just never got around to it. This summer he was out diving almost everyday in Playa del Carmen. He even asked for some part time work at the dive shop so he could help pay for his tanks to keep going out there. Loved seeing how excited he got over it.
- My 19 year old son David got his dive master certification and is currently working and living in Playa del Carmen. He helps with the bull shark dives and the general diving they do there. He is turning into a hardcore waterman.
- My 26 year old son CJ is not a diver and has not shown much interest in it, but showed his love and support for what we do in such an amazing way this year, he tattooed our Tibby logo on his arm. I was totally blown away with this gift, truly is humbling. Of course we still have hopes of getting him in the water. Next summer he may finally cave?

August was kind of a blur, our show aired on Shark Week and it did very well. The name of the show Zombie Sharks actually went crazy in the Twitter world and we were #1 in the hashtag world for a day or two. That was kind of fun, a nice memory when I look back. Even my haters were using it to post their hate tweets about me. That was awesome! We threw a party at my buddies restaurant (Gridiron Burger) for the show and so many of my friends and family showed up to show their support. It was an amazing night, one I will always remember.

October I was back at tiger beach and I have to share a very special moment. My beautiful wife Maritza was on the trip with me. On one dive we dropped in between dives to attract tigers while our guests were all on board eating lunch. It was just me and Mari. This was the first time me and my beauty have ever dove alone together. It hit me during the dive that it was just us. After I made that realization I fell in love with it. I grabbed the camera from her and started taking pictures of her with tigers and she took a bunch. It was just so much fun, felt like little kids down there. It will always be one of my most favorite dives of all time.

So these are just a few of my favorites…There are so many moments and I wish I could share them all, but I dont want to bore you guys with a book. But before I end this blog, I do want to say thanks to everyone who shared a piece of your 2014 year with us. You all made it special and I am forever grateful to you all. I am looking forward to this year and I can’t wait to get out there and share the craziness of my life with you all again. Happy New Year my friends.

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