That picture pretty much sums it up! After a lot of anticipation, and a loooonng – but fun – trip from NYC to Guadalupe Island, we were in the cages and getting some fantastic photo ops with the great Tiburón Blanco! A once in a lifetime adventure…that I hope to do again, someday.
Isla Guadalupe is definitely off the beaten path. Once in San Diego, we took a 2-3 hour road trip south across the Mexican border, down the Baja coast to the marina, and boarded our live-aboard vessel, The Sea Escape, around Noon.
It was mid-afternoon once we were settled, cleared by the harbor authorities, and underway. From there, we enjoyed a beautiful, all-day ride on the open ocean and toward the setting sun, followed by a lovely dinner provided by the chef and his assistant, and a perfectly good but undeniably cramped night’s sleep (please listen to advice when you go: do not pack a lot. It’s unnecessary, and only leads to sharing your tiny top bunk with a half-full duffel bag.)
We were all champing at the bit to get into those cages, so we geared up and with the help of the awesome Sea Escape crew, were in the water and ready for some Great White action!
Unfortunately, that first encounter, shown above, was the last for the first day.
And the second day…
Turns out, there were some environmental factors conspiring against us. We were lucky not only to have a top-notch dive operation aboard the Sea Escape, but some visits by a well-known marine scholar in the area, who was busy with various research tasks–including checking in on the two dive boats at Guadalupe that day.
Dr. Mauricio Hoyos Padilla is the founder and Executive Director of Pelagios Kakunjá, a marine conservation organization based in La Paz, MX, that studies the migratory marine species in the Mexican Pacific. He came on board and treated us to a lesson on the local great white sharks of Guadalupe. Mauricio gave us a power-point presentation on general GWS biology and behavior, showed photos of the local sharks and explained how to identify them by their various markings, and so on. He also let us know that the lack of activity that week was very likely due to the recent storm in the area. The storm created warmer surface waters than the sharks typically respond to, and had also churned up the ocean a bit more, so the visibility was lower than normal; Great white sharks are quite visual, so they couldn’t necessarily see the nice big tuna and yellowtail being served up by our crew. Those conditions were probably contributing to the local sharks hanging out way down deep – and not circling our cages.
The cages we had traveled so far to climb into, and that we only had for one last day!
Well…luckily, the last day was well worth the wait! We saw at least 7-8 different great whites, perhaps more. They came early in the morning, and treated all of us to a constant show, all day long. It was such an incredible thing to see, and from virtually all angles – they swim below you, above you, around you, under the boat – which gives a pretty awesome sense of scale so you can understand their large size (many we saw were in the 15-16 foot range). The crew kept up their incredibly skilled pole fishing, too, so we got to see a lot of surging, chomping and wrestling with those big fish. Truly a breathtaking thing to watch, up close and personal.
Once again, none of this would’ve been possible without the beloved Ocean Horizons Scuba in Brooklyn, NY, and the wonderful work and guidance of our dive master, Antonio Aguilar. I also loved the Sea Escape from La Paz’s Club Cantamar, and want to give thanks to the whole crew–for their masterful skill and service, and their fun and camaraderie.
This is a true diving must, at least once in your life. I’ll certainly never forget it.
Next up – a return to lovely Cozumel, at long last.
Thanks for reading!