Island Of The White Sharks

Do you want to know what it is like to come to Guadalupe Island and meet the Great White Sharks? Read the following trip report and look at the pictures from John Gunn and Katrien De Maertelaere who joined us at Guadalupe Island back in August.  

Island Of The White Sharks
As we boarded Horizon, the 80 foot long dive boat that would be our home for the next week, we had no idea of the adventures that lay ahead. Fulfilling a life long dream to dive with Great White Sharks, I was about to embark on a trip out to Guadalupe Island in Mexico. A rocky desolate island 150 miles west of Baja California, which is now recognized as the best place to dive with these wonderful creatures in crystal clear waters. Having recently spent time out at the Farallon Islands (The west coast’s other hub of Great White activity) I couldn’t wait to experience the magic of Guadalupe.

Shark Diver (www.sharkdiver.com) were our hosts and the crew of the Horizon greeted us warmly as we strolled past the monstrous steel shark cages out on deck and settled into our cosy sleeping quarters. The trip out to Guadalupe isn’t for the light hearted, a 36 hour trek in decent swells (and apparently we had it calm!) but the Horizon was a wonderful vessel and once we’d past through immigration in Ensenada, Mexico we were out in the open ocean, heading due west over some of the richest and biologically diverse stretches of water in the world. Within a couple of hours of leaving the Mexican mainland we were accompanied by a large group of Pilot Whales, who stayed with us for over an hour, breaching out of the water just a few feet from the boat. It was a wonderful start to what we were all hoping would be the adventure of a lifetime. 
 

After a bumpy couple of nights sleep, we awoke on the second morning to the sounds of clucking steel and rushed up on deck. The cages were slowly being lowered into the water, overshadowed by the towering, volcanic rock face of Guadalupe Island. It was quite a sight and it felt only right that one of the world’s largest congregations of Great White Sharks had chosen this alien rocky outpost as their hunting ground. After a quick but delicious cooked breakfast (the food on the entire trip was divine!) and an introduction to the cage rotations (we’d be tag teaming one hour in and one hour out of the cage for the next 2 days!) it was time to gear up and get diving!

I was part of the first rotation and with the bate lines floating next to the cages and chum being poured over the side of the boat, we anxiously waited for our first glimpse of the world’s oldest apex predator! The hour ticked by without an appearance and the next team of divers jumped in to try their luck. Within minutes we were startled by the soon to be familiar shout, ‘WHITE SHARK!’ as a huge dark shadow gracefully glided past the boat. I could only imagine the sight from below the surface.

There had been no need to panic! Our second dive of the day turned out to be one of the best dives of the entire trip. We were treated to 3 White Sharks, circling the cages for the full hour. The opportunity to see these animals up close in clear water was truly special. They’re both graceful and terrifying at the same time. A monster from your nightmares, that you can’t take your eyes off. The 14 foot sharks glided inches from the cage, ominously disappearing into the blue, before somehow re-appearing moments later from the completely opposite direction. While at first glance their eyes are black and sinister, a closer look reveals a soft light blue interior that focused in on the divers as the shark glides past. These guys were definitely checking us out!

As rotations merged into each other, the action never stopped and as we experienced more sharks, we were privileged to witness an array of different personalities that each gave a unique interaction. Shark Diver keep a log of all the White Sharks they encounter and name them, as a way of keeping track. Over time, we learned who was who; ‘Legend’ was a mid- sized feisty shark that would charge and breach for the bait, giving the topside divers and crew quite a show. ‘Johnny’ was a more relaxed but larger and proud shark and every now and then we’d be lucky enough to look down into the depths and see the infamous ‘Bruce’, a monstrous male White Shark circling below. 

From the surface, the water was so clear it was like watching the sharks swimming in a pool and from below, the 100+ foot visibility offered photo opportunities I’m yet to encounter anywhere in the world. On our last night we were treated to a fantastic presentation from a couple of local researchers (the only inhabitants on the island, with the exception of a small fishing community) from Pelagios Kakunja Marine Conservation, educating us on the vital science and research currently being done to understand more about the Guadalupe ecosystem and the best ways to protect it in the future. As well as the informative talk, the two researchers showed us a ‘deep sea monster’ that they’d found floating on the surface, a bizarre bottom dwelling creature that we figured out probably belonged to the ‘Frog Fish’ family. 

Finally, we were treated to up close GoPro footage of a recent Great White predication on an Elephant Seal at the island (only the third time such an attack had been caught on camera), before we all slunked down to our cabins beneath the waves and looked forward to the final morning of diving before our departure back to the mainland.

The final morning didn’t disappoint, as we were continuously circled by a large male shark called ‘Biteface’. At nearly 16 feet in length, he dwarfed the cage as he glided inches from the steel cage and our busy cameras! After lunch the cages were hoisted back onto the Horizon and we set pace at a steady 10 knots, back to San Diego. Within a few hours, just as the sun was setting, we were accompanied by a stunning group of breaching Dolphins, giving the entire group a great opportunity to reflect on this wonderfully rich and wild stretch of ocean and the trip of a lifetime.

Will I be returning to Guadalupe? Most certainly, but probably not before my passion for Sharks and underwater photography takes me to the Tiger Sharks of the Bahamas and the resident Bulls Sharks of Fiji. Take a bow Shark Diver, you well and truly delivered!

Thank you John and Katrien for coming out with us and writing this great report! It was a pleasure having you on board and we enjoyed introducing you to our “friends” at Guadalupe Island. We are looking forward to taking you to the Bahamas and Fiji for your next shark diving adventure!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

“Expert” advice by Julie Andersen

Once again I’ve been scooped by “DaShark“, who beat me to the punch in pointing out Julie Andersen’s hypocrisy in her latest post, telling us to “Do as I say and not as I do”. I other words he pointed out what a complete hypocrite this “Shark Angel” and “shark expert” really is. She once again showed that she is much more interested in promoting herself, rather than shark conservation.

Read “DaShark’s” blog here

Back in 2013 Julie wrote an article for “SCUBA Diving” where she wrote. “The topic of touching sharks can spark heated debates. It’s an inner turmoil I wrestle with often, having spent hundreds of hours underwater with them. A quick Google search reveals many images in which I am brazenly touching sharks. Yes, it is something I did (and often still am tempted to do), but it is something I don’t encourage. In fact, just the opposite.”

I have to admit, that I did have a problem with her stand, because she gained her fame by touching and riding sharks and once she had that name recognition, she didn’t want others to get in on the act and compete with her for sponsorships, money and fame. Ok, we all make mistakes and who hasn’t done something we are not proud of? I thought: “at least she admits that she did something that wasn’t good and is changing”.

Skip a couple of years and here is her latest post on  “Shark Angels

It’s time to change your perspective.

Watch this stunning new video from Built By Wildman featuring founder Julie Andersen showing the world sharks aren’t what they seem. Give sharks a chance. After all, it’s about our oceans… and our collective futures.
 

What they really meant to say it this “It’s time to change your perspective. Watch this stunning new video from Built By Wildman featuring founder Julie Andersen touching sharks and showing the world she isn’t what she seems. She says “Don’t touch sharks!” while still doing it herself. Give Julie a chance. After all, it’s about her… and her future as a spokesperson and her ability to maintain her fame.

We at Shark Diver promote “Safe and sane” diving with sharks. We respect the sharks by not touching them and staying inside that cages at Guadalupe Island. We realize that is is all about the sharks. Protecting them and supporting conservation is our primary goal. 

If you want to come and experience what it feels like to come face to face with these awesome predators in a safe and respectful way, give us a call. You can reach us at 855.987.4275 or via email at staff@sharkdiver.com

We dive with great white sharks at Guadalupe Island, with bull sharks in Fiji and tiger sharks in the Bahamas. 

Let’s go shark diving!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

Wanna join us on a film expediton to visit the Great White Sharks at Guadalupe Island?

Join Shark Diver and Emmy award winning underwater cinematographer Peter Kragh at the peak of Isla Guadalupe‘s shark season, to learn about the many facets of underwater documentary film making. Whether you are just an amateur or an emerging filmmaker, this is an opportunity to get some expert tips to improve your videos and, of course, see some of the greatest sharks in the world.

Peter Kragh

Peter is intimately familiar with sharks. He has filmed everything from little horn sharks to whale sharks and great whites and worked on many Shark Week episodes. He will be there to help you improve your photography skills and experience. There will also be screenings of some of Peters work. With all his diving experience from around the world, Peter can also help you find that “secret” location for your next diving adventure.

Here is a short video, showcasing Peter’s work.

Demo Reel 2014 from Peter Kragh on Vimeo.

As a professional cameraman for over 10 years, Peter has worked on well known BBC and National Geographic projects like Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life and Secret Life of Predators. In 2013 he won an Emmy award for outstanding cinematography on the Nat Geo series “Untamed Americas”. He has also worked on multiple Imax films: Deep Sea 3D, Hubble 3D, Under The Sea 3D, and Journey to the South Pacific 3D.

With all his experience filming both underwater and topside, you are sure to learn a lot from Peter. This is a unique opportunity to both improve your filming skills and have an experience of a lifetime, coming face to face with the Great White Sharks at Isla Guadalupe.

Come join us and Peter on either September 4-9 2015 or September 9-14 2015 for a trip of a lifetime.
Cost is $3,300 for a 5 day live aboard trip, leaving from and returning to San Diego.

For more information visit www.sharkdiver.com/dive-packages/great-white-shark-diving-film-expedition/ or call us at 619.887.4275 toll free 855.987.4275 email staff@sharkdiver.com

You can also contact us via our website http://www.sharkdiver.com//bookings/

I hope to see you this in September.

Let’s go shark diving!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

Peter is intimately familiar with sharks. He has filmed everything from little horn sharks to whale sharks and great whites and worked on many Shark Week episodes. He will be there to help you improve your photography skills and experience. There will also be screenings of some of Peters work. With all his diving experience from around the world, Peter can also help you find that “secret” location for your next diving adventure. – See more at: http://www.sharkdiver.com/dive-packages/great-white-shark-diving-film-expedition/#sthash.Jnwq8Fgl.dpuf

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

What is it like to come face to face with a Great White Shark?

Allan Davey and his son were part of our first Great White Shark expedition to Guadalupe Island this season. He has documented his experience in his blog, A Truly Great White Shark Adventure.

He writes:
 

“Gunther” nibbling on cage. Photo Allan Davey.

We had sharks visit on every session in the cage which apparently isn’t always the case. There was a lot more action on our trip then on previous trips. ( This has continued on trips after ours ). Two of the larger sharks exhibited unusual behaviour which prompted discussions amongst the crew. They were repeatedly gnawing on the cage and one would get under it and knock it from below. They weren’t trying to attack but they were being aggressive. At one point while one of the sharks was biting the cage, a tooth dislodged and started to flutter down. My cage mate went to grab it then realized what he was doing as he started to reach towards the gaping jaws and quickly and fortunately realized that would be unwise. Made for some great personal experiences but made me ponder what is happening to these sharks and their environment that might explain this behaviour. Then again our Dive Master Martin Graf said that as soon as you think you know something about white sharks they do something unexpected and everything goes out the window.

It was very unusual that during our first 2 trips, some sharks that have been around our cages for years, “Gunther” and “Drogin” were repeatedly nibbling on our cages. There was no food by the cages and they did it in slow motion, with their eyes open and not rolled back. I have never observed that kind of behavior before.

We also saw some great interaction between sea lions and sharks that Allan has documented with these awesome pictures.

Well, hello there! How are you today?

Hey, wanna go play?

You can read Allan’s blog here. Along with a lot of awesome pictures, he also has some great info and tips for photographers. Thanks Allen!

Here are some more samples of his pictures!

Check out the blue eyes!

If you would like to experience these shark up close and personal yourself, call us at 619.887.4275 or email staff@sharkdiver.com. You can find our expedition schedule at http://www.sharkdiver.com/dive-packages/great-white-shark-diving/

Let’s go shark diving!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

No more drumlines, let the shark killing begin?

Shark Year Magazine just published this:

Western  Australian Government to take action to protect human life when necessary due to an imminent shark threat
 
The State Government has reached an agreement with the Commonwealth Government that will ensure in the event of a shark attack or threat; immediate action can be taken by the Western Australian Government to implement the imminent threat policy.
 
Premier Colin Barnett said this would enable the State Government to respond quickly in the event of a shark posing a threat, or after an attack.
 
“It is important that that we can take action to protect human life when necessary due to an imminent threat, without delay,” he said.
 
“Protocols are being developed to this effect, consistent with Federal environmental law so no ongoing further approvals would be required from the Commonwealth,” Mr Barnett said.
 
“The Federal and State governments will work together so that the State Government can take appropriate action to protect public safety when there is an imminent threat from a shark, as was the case in the recent attack in Esperance.”
 
“This approach strikes the necessary balance between protecting public safety and protecting our environment,” he said.
 
The Premier confirmed the State Government had withdrawn its application for Commonwealth approval of the drum line shark hazard mitigation program.
 
In light of the recommendations from the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority, he said that the application to the Commonwealth had been withdrawn.
 
“We have withdrawn the application after reaching agreement with the Commonwealth which enables us to take immediate action when there is an imminent threat,” Mr Barnett said.
 
“This will mean we will not need to wait for approvals from Canberra in the event of an imminent threat.”
Source: Government of Western Australia

I wonder, what this really means. What constitutes an imminent threat? I’m not sure that Barnett, who doesn’t seem to know a whole lot about sharks, is a good person to answer that question.Shark diving, swimming with sharks, cage diving, great white sharks,
After diving with great white sharks for 14 years, I’ve come to the conclusion, that these sharks are “predictably unpredictable” and I wouldn’t know, how to reduce the already miniscule risk of a shark attack, other than avoiding certain spots or spots at certain times. In my opinion, if they are concerned about swimmers safety, they should spend the money they use for shark mitigation on additional life guards or better equipment for them. That might actually save some swimmers from drowning, a far greater risk than getting bit by a shark.

We shall see, how this turns out. 
We cage dive with great white sharks, swim with sharks at Isla Guadalupe Island.
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at staff@sharkdiver.com.

A whole lot of fighting going on at Isla Guadalupe.

We have seen an unusual number of sharks with fresh bite marks at Guadalupe Island this season. It seems like most sharks, over about 12 ft long have some kind of new bite marks on their bodies. Chugey has another nice bite to his head, a new shark’s f…