Friday, August 31, 2012

Can white shark cage diving get any better?


Sea Lion Pup with Shark Photo by Ken Bill
After a pretty nice crossing, we arrived at Guadalupe this morning and started sharking right away. What can I say? Wow, wow, wow!!! doesn't quite describe it. What a day!

14 different sharks, including 2 new ones, a sea lion pup swimming with a shark, a full breach just about 3 ft. from the boat, up to 6 sharks around the cages at once.

Everyone got tons of great pictures. Easily one of the best days at Guadalupe ever!
Day 3 Today things went back to normal.  We had 4 sharks today, but everyone is still talking about yesterday.
"Thor" swimming by the cages! Photo by Ken Bill
Day 4 Another good day, with 3 sharks showing up and another male, that hasn't been seen before at Guadalupe, making an appearance.
Day 5 The awesome shark action was followed by a really smooth trip home. What a perfect trip!



Cheers,
Martin Graf
Dive Operations Manager
Horizon Charters
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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Great White Shark in Ensenada?


A blue whale. The worlds largest animal!
August 22 We had smooth sailing through the night and passed customs in Ensenada. About an hour outside Ensenada we spotted some dolphins and a few blue whales. The largest animal on earth, just a few yards away from the boat.

And then......... Shaaaaaaaaark!

We spotted a shark fin cruising on the surface and didn't know at first, what kind of shark it was. A mako? A Great White? Upon examining the photos, it was a juvenile Great White Shark!Maybe 3-4ft. just a tiny shark, cruising on the surface for a while.
Baby Great White Shark, outside Ensenada

So now we're cruising towards Guadalupe. The Ocean is flat calm, very nice indeed.
August 23 - We had 3 sharks today with some close passes in the afternoon. One of the Sharks we saw has not been seen in 3 years! It's great to have our old friends back.
August 24 - Another great day of Sharking! 6 known sharks along a few unidentified ones. Everyone got to look into a sharks eyes and had him look back. That's probably the experience that hooked me on sharkdiving some 11 years ago. There is no other experience quite like that. If you haven't been there, you just have to come out and see for yourself!
August 25 - Today was great again. It's amazing, how these sharks come by our vessel day after day! The ride home is starting out smooth as well.  Another amazing trip!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
Dive Operations Manager
Horizon Charters
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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shark Diver Trip Report Isla Guadalupe - August 16-22, 2012


Shark Diver Trip Report
Isla Guadalupe - August 16-22, 2012

Matt Nobles, Shark Diver

If you're reading this, you're probably already "into" sharks.  Maybe you are a diver (possibly even a diver who has done shark dives), and maybe not.  In all likelihood, nobody needs to sell you on how captivating and charismatic white sharks can be.  You may be wondering, however, why Shark Diver is the right choice for your trip of a lifetime.  I hope I can share my reasons for choosing Shark Diver and relay a bit about my experience to help you decide.  For the cynical among you, I'd like to state upfront that I have no stake in the Shark Diver operation.  I began as only an enthusiast like many of you, and now I am a highly satisfied client.

Virtually everything about our trip was organized and well prepared.  Our journey began when we boarded the vessel in San Diego -- there was a quick round of introductions, some paperwork, and everyone was quickly settled.  We learned basics of the Horizon and the crew were all extremely helpful, professional, and fun to be around.  The meals were excellent every time (some examples throughout the week were the cinnamon amaretto french toast, cornish game hens with raspberry-chipotle glaze, and outstanding prime rib).  The ride from Ensenada to Guadalupe was filled with excitement and anticipation.  On our way out of the Ensenada area we encountered a pod of dolphins feeding -- a wonderful bonus and a positive omen for what was in store.

One aspect of the trip that I was not entirely prepared for was how easily everyone integrated onboard.  Without exception, I found all of my shipmates (as well as the crew) to be pleasant and easygoing.  We spent several nights talking, sharing personal stories, and of course we all bonded over the unbelievable common experience we shared throughout the week.  One of my shipmates, Sarah, observed that having 16 strangers in close proximity for several days would ordinarily end with us all eager to go our separate ways, but instead we experienced the opposite.  When we returned to San Diego, the first thing we all wanted to do was spend time together over dinner and drinks.  Here's hoping we can arrange a Shark Diver reunion in 2013!

So what about those white sharks?  Our divemaster, Martin, remarked during one of the pre-dive briefings that seeing white sharks at Guadalupe is much more fascinating than the spectacle of endless chomping, breaching, and "most dangerous sharks" lists that we regularly see on television.  Sure, we all love that stuff too, and everyone has seen Jaws a thousand times, but your experience in-person with these animals will give you a perspective that you can get no other way.

At Guadalupe, you will have the opportunity to see white sharks behave as they do naturally -- with stealthy cautiousness, curiosity, and occasional aggression.  We had some days with lots of sharks (as many as 12 individuals that we captured on photo/video in a single day) and some days with fewer, but more active sharks.  The sharks have individual personalities, thus you will probably have a range of experiences.  Some sharks circle underneath and others are more direct.  Some of the sharks display very clear intelligence and adaptation, which is highly interesting to observe.  I personally saw a shark adapt in minutes from slow surveillance to making tight, quick circles under the Horizon, using the boat and cages for camouflage to strike at the floating baits.  You will witness them puzzling over divers in the cages, at first from afar, and later in very close proximity.  Nothing (NOTHING) compares to having a white shark look directly into the eyes of each diver in your cage in turn as it cruises slowly past. 

The final dive of our trip was the most spectacular.  When we entered the cages, there was a single male about 14ft in length named Bullseye in the area.  For 15 minutes, the shark cruised around us, some 30-40ft below.  Then he exploded.  Suddenly he was everywhere -- disappearing into the blue and only moments later appearing in startling fashion behind us.  He struck at several floating baits and became increasingly bold.  He bumped our cage with his snout, delivering a glancing blow.  On another pass, he chomped at the float bait and thrashed between the cage and the stern of the boat, solidly striking our cage and poking his nose into the cage window, before twisting away.  All of us gawked at each other underwater, our hearts racing and our eyes wide.  Our shipmates in the other cage rotation, who witnessed this topside, were equally in-awe of the action, running from side to side and watching the shark churn the sea into foam.  That hour in the cage passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye.  Several hours later, as we prepared to depart from Guadalupe, we took a group photo on the Horizon's bow; as everyone gathered for the shot, Bullseye appeared again in the water to starboard, as if he wanted to signal farewell.  A perfect coda to an unbelievable day.

I am not much of a photographer, but documenting this trip was really important to me.  The environment at Guadalupe seems custom-built for seeing white sharks.  The backdrop of the island features sheer rock faces, deep blue water, and variable sunshine.  It was generally warm and beautiful throughout our time on-site.  Water visibility at Guadalupe ranged from good to absurdly good during our three days of diving.  If you are a photographer, I would recommend a DSLR-type camera with a sturdy housing.  Wide angle lenses are best inside the cages (I shot mostly with a 16mm prime lens), and you'll probably want to shoot in shutter priority mode at 1/125 or faster to capture the sharks in motion.  I'd recommend good quality flash cards too, since you will probably shoot continuous drive photos in sequence and speed in writing to the media can make a difference.  Don't bother with a strobe, everyone shoots in ambient light and a strobe will only help to illuminate floating particles rather than the sharks themselves.  Also bring a polarize lens for topside shots -- I got several great stills of the sharks around the boat and near the cages.  In total, I probably shot 600+ stills during the entire trip.

Everyone associated with the Shark Diver and Horizon operation are true professionals.  Not only do they know exactly what they are doing in every respect, they really care about you, and they are deeply invested in shark conservation and research.  They understand that people are thrilled by sharks but they aren't interested in operating in a way that would put the sharks at risk.  For example, the crew are very explicitly NOT feeding the sharks with the floating baits; they also aren't leading the sharks intentionally to crash into the cages, which wouldn't be good for the sharks.  Everything that happened on board was safety-focused and I felt as though we were all in good hands at all times.  These issues, especially the sensitivity to ecology and conservation, were very important deciding factors for me.  Not sure about your priorities, but personally, I don't really care as much about having a hot tub on my boat.  I DO want to support people who treat sharks the right way and work to protect them for future generations.

To my fellow shipmates and to all of the Horizon crew, I thank you sincerely for the time we spent together.  I knew I would see white sharks on this trip but I had no idea I would return with so many new friends.   

To Patric Douglas, your reputation and work ethic are glowing for good reason -- Shark Diver is a first-class operation.  To future shark divers, I wish for you the same kind of experience I had: one you'll never forget.

Smooth sailing,
Matt

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jawesome trip to Guadalupe Island 2012!


Another great trip to report for the 2012 white shark season. Smooth sailing down to Guadalupe Island and 12 different sharks on the first day with visits from Diablo, Thor, The Russian, Bite Face, Harvey, Mau and Chugey along with 2 new, unidentified sharks were among the sharks competing to be photographed by our divers.

The second day was a bit slower, but we had one new shark entertain our divers all day long with some fantastic passes close to the cage.

On our last day we had" Bullseye" show up and put on the best show of the season. He has not been seen since 2009 and was curious to check us out. He was investigating our cages, propellers and divers at extremely close range, this is what we call "Epic" shark diving. Our trip back was a smooth as it gets, with glassy ocean waters and no waves.

Are you on our next trip, we cannot wait to see you!

Cheers,

Martin Graf
Dive Operations
M/V Horizon
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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Commodore Decker aka William Windom R.I.P

If you're a Trek Fan, and who isn't, you'll note the sad passing of one of the franchises most beloved episode characters, Commodore Decker in The Doomsday Machine 1967.

William Windom gave an outstanding Trek performance in his role as the emotionally wrecked Commodore channeling his inner Captain Ahab to kill "The Mechanical Devil" on board the USS Constellation.

It was a role that left William Shatner the consummate and undisputed king of "over-the-top" acting in an unusual acting space, that of second banana.

Television lost a lion yesterday, but thanks to You Tube we'll always have his roar. Enjoy:



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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shark Photographer James Dylan - Epic!

In 2011 we were excited to have underwater photographer James Dylan aboard the good ship Horizon for a week of shark adventures at Isla Guadalupe. Famed for white shark encounters that have been thrilling divers for the past decade.

James and his sharks did not disappoint and he cranked our some amazing shark images. Here's his report and his website for a closer look at his white sharks:

"I climbed slowly down the ladder trying to adjust to the extra weight strapped to my waist. I looked around for my designated regulator and drop into the royal blue Pacific. The water was cold as ice, but I didn’t care. The metal enclosure that I stood in rocked back and forth with the waves and I had to grab onto the bars to keep my balance. I scanned the endless ocean for some sign of life besides the school of fish surrounding me. A dark shadow moves in the distance. A massive great white shark materializes out of the depths. My heart stops and I have to remind myself to breathe out of the regulator. This was the one moment I had been waiting for for 17 years and that one moment will forever be seared into my mind. 

Over the next two days I came in contact with between 10 and 15 different white sharks, all with different personalities. On day two, perhaps the most famous shark at Guadalupe showed up. They call him shredder. He is 16 feet long and always loves to show off to the divers watching him. He circled the cage for three hours giving everyone a good look. As he swims past you, he looks at you dead in the eye and you can see his eye snap from diver to diver. Let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing more amazing, thrilling, and terrifying than having a 16 foot great white, swimming mere inches away from you, stare at you; studying you.  Another smaller, unidentified shark, paid us a visit later that day. This one was showing more… aggressive tendencies. He would dive deep and torpedo up from the bottom right at our cage and veer off at the last second.

The whole reason I got into photography was for this very reason.  Shark Diver was able to provide me with the opportunity to capture stunning images which I was able to display at an exhibition last spring.  Several examples from this exhibition are posted above.  For more of my work, please visit my website at www.james-dylan.com.

I had an incredible experience with Shark Diver.  I hope to see you all again very soon."

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Self Propelled Shark Cages - Then There's Cool

Patric Douglas Shark Diver with SOVW on site 2012
With the wrap of Shark Week 2012 it's time to look at the world of self propelled shark cages our teams recent commercial with Volkswagen (whole series here) featuring arguably the coolest self propelled shark cage ever built.

So cool in fact that this vehicle will now be ensconced in the hallowed halls of Volkswagen Corporate for all time.

You don't get to VW Corporate if you don't produce paradigm shaking innovation.

This years commercial series was shot in Florida and the Bahamas over a month with a unique team of creatives, shark divers, RED shooters, and serious front of the camera talent.

The end result has been nothing but net and Kudos to the entire team for an effort hampered by some serious weather. We have a saying here at Shark Diver about weather, design builds, and film and television productions....at the end of the day its all, "accidentally perfect."

Here's to next year!

 

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving, unique film and television productions with sharks 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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012 Isla Guadalupe Shark Week - Best Ever?

Up close and personal - Kinga Phillips (click to see)
Dive Operations Manager Martin Graf is just back in port long enough to file this quick report with a couple of images for divers joining us for the 2012 white shark season.

Sounds like they just lit the fuse on the biggest white shark opener ever!

August 11th: We are boarding the M/V Horizon in San Diego, eager to dive with Great White Sharks at Isla Guadalupe

For me this marks the start of the 11th season diving with these magnificent creatures and I wonder who will be there? Did the regulars make it back? I guess we will see.


August 13th: We had a pretty smooth ride down here, the cages are in the water, the divers ready ..... and the Sharks? 
 8:40am: "White Shaaaaaaaaaaark!"  Chugey is here! He's a 15+ ft male that we have seen every year since 2004. It looks like he got into a fight. His face isn't looking too pretty!
Noon:  All I have to say is "WOW!" Unbelievable! We had at least 7 different Sharks this morning! We can't possibly top this! 
Evening: Well, we did top the morning! 11 different Sharks! 3 at the cage at once. Great up and close encounters. A couple actually touched the cage. The Russian, Schmitty and Bite Face are back as well. It looks like Bite Face lost his transmitter (more from Patric later) and now we have prime rib for dinner. That's what I call a perfect day! 
PS Bruce, a 16+ ft male just swam by the boat!

August 14: Who said it couldn't get any better?  12 different Sharks today. Tapikul, Thor, Big, and Flipkin made their first appearance of the season. Phenomenal action all day!
August 15th: We had another good morning, with 5 sharks showing up and now we're packing up to make our way home. 

What an incredible "Shark Week" here's to the start of 2012!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
Dive Operations Manager
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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Shark Week Volkswagen Commercial 2012 Bahamas

The final episode of the three part anchor commercial to Shark Week is complete with last nights much anticipated dropping of the SOVW aka "Skittles" into waters swarming with sharks.

In case you missed it here it is in all it's commercial magnificence.

Taking a cue from a current crop of tv build shows, a dash of Mythbusters inspired mayhem, and of course the pure DNA of Shark Week to thrill audiences from Canada to the Florida Keys.

Produced by: Discovery Creative / What We Do Media / Engine Pictures
Executive Producer/Host: Luke Tipple
Line Producer: Patric Douglas
Field Producer / Dive Safety Officer: Greg Mooney
Engineer: Andre Verwey
Assistant Engineer: Marcelo Jerez
Captain: Scott Grey
Safety Divers: Rob MacDonald & Andrew Driver
Underwater DP: John Friday
Underwater B Camera: Alfredo Ruiz
 


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving, film and television commercials with sharks, 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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Conservation Messaging - PSA's To Watch

Conservation PSA's are the lifeblood of any movement and one of the leaders of the shark movement is David Diley who produced this great look at Fiji's sharks.

Sadly for the folks in Fiji, the Shark Sanctuary did not pass, a rare set back in an island nation that has, until last month, been a leader in shark conservation efforts.

All things comes to pass and we're sure the fine folks in Fiji (many of them in this video) will be back on the hunt for new shark protections soon, it's in their DNA to be innovative.

In the meantime watch this video and share it. Inspiration can also be a useful tool and this video has it in spades.

Kudos David, thank you for the images, the words, and the beauty and joy of sharks:




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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.