Mike Gerken: Evolution Underwater Imaging | 6th Annual North Carolina Wreck Shark Shootout 2019 - Mike Gerken Photography

6th Annual

North Carolina

Wreck•Shark Shootout


Thu, May 30 to Sun, June 2

(Optional "Recon" Dives May 28-29)

The Shootout

The 6th Annual North Carolina Wreck•Shark Shootout will is hosted by professional photographer, Mike Gerken at Olympus Dive Center in Morehead City, NC. Each year divers come from all over the world to share a love of diving, underwater photography, sharks and wrecks. The reason this event is so successful is the people that attend.

Please read this events page carefully and contact Mike to receive your application for reservation. 

Email: mike@evolutionunderwater.com.  Non-Photographers are welcome.


The NC Wreck•Shark Shootout is a photo/video competition centered around the famed wrecks of North Carolina with the prolific sand tiger shark as the star subject. Photo's and video's can be submitted by contestants at the end of the competition in order to potentially win some amazing prizes (see list below). I have been diving the wrecks of North Carolina for more than 15 years and was a captain of the M/V Midnight Express of Olympus Dive Center for six seasons. I will utilize all my knowledge to put divers on the wrecks with the best opportunities for shark encounters. The Shootout is an event that is dear to me. It is an opportunity to share my love of wreck and shark diving with those who are like minded. It is a great time no matter who takes home the prizes. Read on and contact me if you think you are interested in joining us. 

Please visit my Biography Page within this web site to learn more about myself.

"Recon" Dives

Prior to the start of the Shootout, sign up for one or both of the "Recon" dive days scheduled on Tue, May 28 and Wed May 29. These days are for scoping out the conditions to see where the best photo opps are. This is an opportunity to get your toes wet and sort out your gear or merely extend your diving trip beyond the 4 day Shootout package. 


The list of sponsors below is from the 2018 event. I hope to include all of them and add many new ones for 2019. Prizes and categories are subject to change at any given time. If you care to become a sponsor contact mike@evolutionunderwater.com. No prize is too big or too small. (scroll down for list)

Olympus Dive Center

I have been associated with Olympus Dive Center for more than 16 years and find that they are the most professional and safest operation in North Carolina if not in the USA. Their two spacious USCG certified vessels are fast, comfortable and safe with highly experienced captains and crew. They can hold a capacity of 45 divers between the two vessels. Both boats will be utilized for the event.

Event Hotel - The Bask

For the fourth year, the official event hotel will be the Bask conveniently located on the Morehead waterfront just across the street from the Olympus Dive Center. I have a block of rooms reserved for this event. Book through me direct to receive the special group rate; a rate that is refundable. All of the events are centrally located around the dive shop including the Bask which would eliminate the need for a car for those of you traveling from out of state or country. 

The Weather

If you are going to attend the event, bring a positive attitude and understand that the diving is at the mercy of Mother Nature. I cannot control the conditions or guarantee shark sightings. If I could, I would be rich. Also, keep in mind that there is always the chance that we will have to dive the inshore wrecks rather than the more desirable offshore wrecks if the weather mandates it. If we can run we will. Olympus Dive Center is a highly reputable operation that has been in business for more than 25 years and places safety as their number one concern.

Sign Up

Contact Mike@evolutionunderwater.com. I will then send you an application in PDF format upon contact. Please fill it out completely and email it back to me. I will then contact you with instructions on how to make payment along with an invoice. 


Prices & Packages - (Add $140 per day for "Recon" dives May 29-30)

$1545.00 - dbl occup. Includes 4 nts King Studio @ Bask Hotel (Highly Recommended)

                           Inquire about room upgrades for additional costs.

$1040.00 4 nts lodging @ Olympus Dive Lodge (see link)

$900.00 - No lodging; Attendee will take care of his/her lodging. 

What's Else is Included:

•Entry Fee

•4 Days Diving; 2 Dives per day (Recon dives are additional $140pp/pd)

•Photo/Video Workshop - Mike will give up his secrets on how to get the best shots.

•Presentations - All things wrecks and sharks will be presented by Mike and a guest presenters (to be announced).

•Cookout on the Dock and Buffet Awards Dinner at The History Place Museum and catered by Floyd's 1921 Restaurant 

•Professional Tips, Techniques and Guide Service provided by Mike Gerken representatives

•Free Events T-Shirt

What's Not Included:

•Tank rentals and Nitrox fills. Visit this link for air and nitrox pricingVisit this link for tank rental pricing.

•Gratuities for the boat crew. A customary gratuity is between $10-$20 per day per boat depending on how you felt the service was.

Visit this link for Diver Certification Requirements (Advanced Certified Divers Only!) This event is not for beginners.

The organizers of this event reserve the right to refuse entry of any individual(s) to the event.

Payment, Cancellation & Refund Policy: A 25% deposit must be made to reserve spot(s). Full payment is due 45 days out from charter date or space(s) will be forfeited. Full refund minus $75 admin fee will be offered up to 30 days of the event with no refunds within 30 days. Refunds will be issued if individual charter(s) are cancelled due to adverse weather at a rate of $130.00 per day. An administration fee of $200.00 will be non-refundable regardless of the number of charter cancellations. ​Hotel refunds for the Bask will be available up to 24 hours from the start of the event. Payment can be made with a check or bank transfer or credit card via Square or PayPal. A 4% fee will be incurred for Square and PayPal transactions. Attendees will be responsible for additional bank fees where applicable. Decisions to cancel a charter will be made the morning of each charter unless of a severe event such as extreme weather (see below).  

Trip Insurance

I strongly urge you to purchase trip/travel insurance and dive accident insurance such as Divers Alert Network (DAN) in the unlikely event you will have to cancel last minute and lose your deposit or worse your entire trip amount (read policy above). In addition, certain policies will protect you in the event of extreme weather cancellation i.e. hurricane or tropical storm or diver injury.

Diving Conditions

Diving will take place in the open ocean up to 36 miles from shore with depths ranging from 60 feet to 120 feet. Be prepared for choppy conditions but hope for flat calm seas. Take seas sickness medications as needed. During June water temperatures average in the mid-seventies with visibility averaging 50 feet and exceeding 100 feet on a good day.  Some current is possible so be prepared for strenuous finning. Divers with physical disabilities may have difficulty climbing the dive boat ladders on days with rough seas. Diving North Carolina can be challenging so be prepared. 


2019 Sponsors and Prizes

(Subject to change)

Grand Prizes

Truk Odyssey - One Week Liveaboard Charter with 6 days of diving the M/V Odyssey diving the famous wrecks of Truk Lagoon in Chuuk, Micronesia.

Sam's Tours & Unique Dive Expeditions - 7 Nights Hotel at Palau Central Hotel 5 days of diving; 3 days of which with Unique Dive Expeditions.
Explorer Ventures - 8 Day 7 Nights Liveaboard Dive Package for one person aboard the Caribbean Explorer II in the Northern Caribbean.

Atlantis Resorts. Philippines - 7 Nts/8 day Dive Vacation at either Atlantis Dumaguete or Puerto Galera Resort. Unlimited diving up to 5 dives per day + deluxe accommodation + all meals included.

Utila Dive Center - Honduras - 7 Nights Deluxe Room at the Mango Inn + 2 Dives/Day and 1 Night Dive + 10% discount for companion.


Olympus Dive Center

 Day Dive Package


Dive Gear


418 Dive Training Center

Dive Gear

Hampton Dive Center

Dive Equipment


Sea Dragon 2300 Auto Light


   Sea & Sea

YS-D2 Strobe

Tusa Mask, Fins

Wreck Diving Magazine


Bay Photo Lab

20" x 30" Aluminum Metal Print



Two $50 Gift Certificate



Aquaventure Dive & Photo Center

$100 Gift Certificate


Become a Sponsor and Place Your Ad Here.





Sherwood Scuba

Magnum Regulator



Place your Ad here.           



Dive Aventuras Mexico

Dive Package


PCH Scuba

Catalina CA Dive Trip

Triton Abyss Diving


Kraken Sports

2 Kraken Hydra 2500 Video Lights

Kraken Sports

Schedule of Events (subject too change)

Tuesday and Wednesday May 28-29: Join Mike for the optional pre-event "Recon" dives. We'll scout out the wrecks and see what the conditions are like and where the sharks are hanging out. This is a perfect way to get an edge on the competition. Boat departs 7am sharp each morning. (Images taken on these days are not allowed to be entered in the competition.)

Wednesday May 29 at 3-6pm - Meet & Greet at the Olympus Dive Center; sign waivers and load the boat (dive shop open till 8pm). Join me for an informal dinner across the street from the dive shop at the Red Fish Grill at 6pm.

Thursday May 30 at 6:00am: Day One of the Shootout commences. Arrive at Olympus Dive Center and get ready to dive. If you didn't register the day before do so now. The boats leaves the dock no later than 7:00am.

Thursday May 30 at 4pm: Grillin' on the dock. Enjoy a cold beer, burgers, chicken, hot dogs and many side dishes and snacks on the dock after a fun days diving and share stories and make new friends. 

Thursday May 30 at 6PM: Photo/Video workshop at the Bask Hotel conference room. I will share tips and techniques for taking the winning photos and video.

Friday May 31 at 6:00am: Day Two of the Shootout commences. Boat departs no later than 7:00am. 

Friday May 31 at 6:00pm: Presentations by Mike Gerken and guest lecturers (to be announced). Join Mike afterwards for an informal dinner at Floyd's 1921 outdoor patio. 

Saturday June 1 at 6:00am: Day Three of Shootout commences. We will try for an early departure of 6:30AM if possible to beat the weekend dive boat traffic. 

Saturday June 1 at 5:00pm: Deadline for photo/video submissions for contest. (See rules below).

Saturday June 1 at 6:00pm-9:00: Awards dinner at The History Place Museum; catered by Floyd's 1921 restaurant. 

Saturday June 1 at 8-9pm prizes awarded. This time will vary depending on how quickly the judges make their decisions. 

Sunday June 2 at 6:00am: Final day of diving. The competition is over. Let your hair down and relax for fun filled day of wreck & shark diving.

Monday June 3: Megladon shark tooth hunting in Wilmington, NC - Limited to only 12 spots. Book now! 

The documentary,

"Wreck Denizens of North Carolina"

Filmed and produced by Mike Gerken

Email mike@evolutionunderwater.com with questions and to reserve your spot.

Bad Weather Events: In the event of dive cancellation on individual days or multiple days due to foul weather, I can suggest activities in the area. Don't mope around the dive shop and make good use of the beautiful Crystal Coast. There are beaches, wild horses, museums, bars, great restaurants and more.

Photo Video Contest Rules (subject to change)

NOTE: Understand that competitions are subjective based on the judges preferences. Not everyone will agree with all of the decisions the judges make but I ask that the decisions are respected and not debated. The judges will be happy to discuss why certain images were chosen while others were not after the competition. Photos will be judged based on technical mastery. Subject matter, Image sharpness, composition, color saturation, proper exposure, usage of lights/strobes and the level of difficulty to obtain the image will be all considered when judging. All decisions are final. Rules violations can be brought to the attention of the organizer and judges during the awards dinner only and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. 

•Judge - Professional photo journalist, Scott Johnson will be the judge for this years event. A second judge may be added. 

•Only 1 photo or 1 video submitted per participant per category. No multiple images or slideshows will be accepted unless the category requires it.

•Duplicate photos can be submitted in multiple categories but can win only one prize overall with the exception of an individual image from the Best Portfolio category. An image can be submitted in another category and win a prize in that category as well. 

•Professional photographers or videographers may only submit entries for the Grand prize and Portfolio categories only.  A professional is defined as individual who has been paid for his or her work more than once in the past 12 months. Print sales are excluded as a criteria for a professional.

•Participants can win only one first place prize and grand prize with 3 prizes overall. 

•Best in Show category requires no separate submission. Judges will determine the best image from all submissions in all categories. The Best in Show winning image will cede the first place prize of that category to the next best image in that category in order to win the grand prize. 

•Submit still images in JPEG format with images sized to 12 inches on the longest end and resolution no greater than 300ppi. Video files must be in mp4 or .mov format. Bring your own device to transfer images to judges computer. If the judge cannot play the file, it will not get judged. 

•Post processing of still images is acceptable but over processed images will be disqualified at the discretion of the judge(s). i.e. clone stamped marine life, excessive color saturation and sharpness.

•Contestants will be given a number from 1-45 prior to submitting images for competition. That number must be first in the file name followed by the category of each photo or video file submitted. ie 35_Wreck, ie 20_shark; Best Portfolio must have each file numbered sequentially ie 35_Portfolio_1 or 2 or 3 or 4. This method will provide complete anonymity of the contestant to the judges.

•All images submitted must be taken on the dates of the shootout only. Metadata of the files will be required.

•Submissions will only be accepted by the judge from the participant only. 

•Files must be delivered in person to the judge no later than 6pm Saturday, June 3 at the Olympus Dive Center. No emailed files or FTP files will be accepted. 

•Video files must be no longer than the prescribed length of time for that category otherwise they will be disqualified. 

•Best Video Edited category submissions must be no longer than 2 minutes in length with maximum of 20 seconds of above water footage. Still images may not be used in this category

•Best Video Un-edited category submissions must be shorter than 30 seconds and a single un-edited clip. This clip can be used as part of the edited category.

Point & Shoot Criteria: What is a point & shoot camera? Any camera that does not have internally housed interchangeable lenses such as SLR's or mirrorless cameras will be allowed to enter the point & shoot category.  Examples of point & shoot cameras are Go-Pro's and SeaLife cameras. 

      Example Categories (subject to change)

•Grand Prize Best in Show - One photo or video will be selected out of all submissions in all the categories and take home the grand prize.

•Best Wreck Photo- Submit any photo that has a wreck as the primary focus of the shot. 

•Best Shark Photo - The most compelling image of any shark species will be accepted in this category.

•Best Video Short - Edited - 2 minutes max length

•Best Video Short - Unedited - Single stunning clip unedited under 30 seconds or less. Edited clips will be disqualified. This clip may be used as part of the Edited category submission. 

•Best Point & Shoot Camera Photo - The best photo of any subject matter will be the winner of this category. See above for criteria. 

•Best Portfolio  - Submit 4 images and win based on the body of work and not a single image.

•Best Creative Image - This image can be outside the box; ie creative lighting, digital processing