Guadalupe ... cage diving with Great Whites!
"Nothing quite prepares you for that unforgettable rush of adrenalin when you come face-to-face with a Great White!"
Dave and Lisa hosted our Exclusive Tour trip to Guadalupe last year and here they share with us the amazing experience of cage diving with Great Whites!
The trip started with guests being met at the Best Western Hotel, Shelter Island, San Diego by one of the team from the Nautilus Explorer. We spent the afternoon relaxing around the pool or visiting the USS Midway aircraft carrier. A two hour coach transfer took us across the Mexican border to Ensenada to join the boat. While we all settled on board with a strong welcome cocktail, the crew took our bags down to our cabins ready for us to unpack.
We set sail around 8pm for a sea crossing to the volcanic island of Guadalupe located 150 miles off the Pacific West Coast of Mexican Baja California Peninsula.
After dinner we had the safety briefing and were instructed on how to enter the cages. We were also given emergency drills in case anything happened to the hookah system* regulators that all divers use. Each cage had two sets of scuba tanks along with regulators and also a ballast tank on each side off the upper platform balcony for emergency purposes.
* The hookah system uses a compressor at the surface that delivers air to the divers via long hoses and a demand regulator. No tanks or BCDs required!
And then to bed. And what did we dream of that night? BIG sharks, of course!
Early morning of the second day and all four cages had checks done before being lowered into the water ready for our three days of unforgettable shark interaction!
A daily schedule was put up on the notice boards which gave time slots showing who was in which cage and at what time. The two submersible 10m cages started around 7am and operated until 6pm - each cage took three divers and each dive lasted around 45 minutes.
The two surface cages were open to allow divers unlimited time in the water. These cages could hold four divers in total, but most of the time just one or two divers were using them.
The first time you enter the cage and are lowered to meet the sharks is a memory you will never forget! Nothing quite prepares you for that unforgettable rush of adrenalin when you come face-to-face with a Great White less than 10ft away from you! You totally forget you are in the cage and you are in total awe of the shark. What an amazing experience!!!!
Over the three days we typically had up to two sharks at one time - with the best dives having five sharks.
One of the crew gave a very interesting presentation about the Guadalupe Great Whites and what the many companies and Park Rangers are trying to do to protect and study the sharks. This was followed by the guests and crew trying to ID the sharks we had had the pleasure of seeing under water during our stay and adding them to the database.
As well as diving in the cages, there was also huge excitement from the boat watching the sharks being tempted by the wrangler who is on a purpose built gang plank. They use bio-degradable edible line which breaks if the shark takes the fish and only chunks of yellow fin tuna are used to tempt the shark in. This is done in a safe way so the sharks are directed away from the cages to avoid potential injuries from hitting the cage or the boat, but still close enough to get fantastic photos.
This is an important point - particularly after the disgraceful YouTube video showing a diver and a shark in a life threatening situation. Mexican Park Regulations limit each boat on the amount of fish which can be used by wranglers and once the fish is used up, they are not allowed to catch any more. This limits shark feeding. Also, the cages often get inspected to check their integrity and also make sure they are smooth in order to stop any chance of injury to the shark and for safety to the divers.
This was one unforgettable holiday and highly recommended to any keen shark lovers. Meet the top predator and do it with a very professional team.
THE NAUTILUS BOAT AND CREW ARE SUPERB!
- Dave and Lisa Allison
Jim Kearney, a guest on this trip, took some amazing footage - click through to vimeo to take a look!