Sunday, August 2, 2009

Isla Guadalupe - Timing is Everything - Dominatrix are Fun

Editors Note: Got off the phone with Nicole Nasby Lucas of the Marine Conservation Science Institute (MCSI) this morning. She tells us that two of the islands well known resident sharks "just arrived" August 2nd. MCSI continues to tag and track this unique population of sharks year after year.

If you want to know exactly where I.G's white sharks are at any given moment, ask Nicole.

You can donate to their critical ongoing efforts here.

Trip Report July 27-31

They say "timing is everything". With migratory white sharks even more so. When we arrived to Isla Guadalupe on July 28th our crew, divers, and one magazine reporter were in high spirits.

We were here to meet
Carcharodon carcharias at one of the finest and most productive white shark sites on the planet.

They also say "ego and pride is a fastest way to disappointment".

Day one started like any other, cages in the water at 9.00 am, safety meeting at 9.20, divers wet shortly after. This trip I offered some Shark Diver Swag to the diver who called the arrival of our first shark, I gave our divers a window until 12.00 noon. At 10.33 the first shark appeared, an animal we know as Pablo aka Harvey.

This shark was a 9-10 foot male with a prominent white scar on his nose (Pablo Escobar). Our crew cheered, the divers cheered, and we relaxed just a bit, the 2009 white shark season at Isla Guadalupe had officially begun!

Remember that saying about ego and pride?

Within 5 minutes Pablo decided to leave...and never came back. No worries, we all thought, another shark, perhaps Shredder, Bruce, Magix, or even Stella will be around to replace him shortly. This is typically how it goes at Isla Guadalupe and how it has been for the past 8 seasons.

It was not to be.

We spent the next 9 hours waiting, and waiting and waiting. Our divers noticed many forms of jelly fish floating by and not much else. The crew on the other hand noticed many hundreds of seals floating on the surface without a care in the world...bad sign.

Day one ended with some minor disappointments and a move to the south end of the island. Along with no sharks at Point Norte, there was also no current in the bay, just a jelly-soup.

Day two, we all thought, would be better.

Day two was another typical day, great current in the area, loads of tuna boats close by, and one shark sighting, today was the day! We set up on The Westies and...waited. By 12.00 noon we decided to make a move 100 yards to the left and voila, a shark!

The crew went into high action, divers raced about, Houston we have liftoff. This time another 9-10 foot male arrived. This animal was a new shark, not in the extensive shark ID book we keep on board. The new shark swept by our shark cages, peeked in at the divers, and...promptly left the area.

Right about now as a commercial shark diving operator you start to feel very insignificant. You also have a vessel load of great divers from as far away as Brazil who start asking the question "where are the sharks you promised us?", we had no answer. Day two was a complete bomb and we spent the night on the extreme south end of the island.

That night we made a sacrifice to the islands Shark Gods. The ceremony involves flame and the tossing of all bananas off the vessel. The offending item to be burned was a Speedo. Since 2003 and an unfortunate incident with a diver who only wore a red Speedo 24/7, we have had a "no Speedo rule" aboard all our fleet vessels - it went up in flames and we hoped the Shark Gods would be satisfied...hoped.

Day three, back to Point Norte. More seals, no sharks. Not even one. If hope and prayer resides at the Vatican, I can guarantee you there was none of it there on July 30th, every last drop of it was on a commercial shark diving vessel 210 miles off the coast of Mexico being dispensed by the crew and divers of Shark Diver. Never in the history of shark diving have a group of people had more faith in "shark miracles".

Final Summation

We were early this year. Isla Guadalupe is a remarkable place and very consistent for great whites. Clearly, the migration back to the island had not arrived as we did not see any animals and the local seal population apparently had not seen them either. I have never seen island seals so care free, floating about in "big tasty rafts" past out cages.

As for our intrepid divers and an expedition without sharks?

Our company name is Shark Diver not, as such we extended a free trip back with us within three years to do this expedition right, with sharks. Kudos to the entire group including a very interesting gal from Canada who, along with being a mild mannered admin, turned out to also be a professional Dominatrix!

You learn a lot about people on the back deck of a shark vessel when there are no sharks around.

Thanks to all our divers for their great cheer, ongoing faith in shark diving, and awesome personalities, we look forward to seeing you all again...soon.

As for July 27-31? That date will be been officially "retired" on Monday. Sometimes nature takes one back, all we can do is make sure our divers are there when "sharks happen", a promise made - a promise kept.

Patric Douglas CEO

Hat tip image: Juanmi Alamany