The following article from Mexico's "La Jornada" details a full cage breach event (one of the worst ever caught on tape) at Isla Guadalupe, November 2007.
This video, shot by clients of the operation in question was quickly posted to You Tube where it has been viewed over 120,000 times. Presumably by Mexican environmentalists and policy makers as well.
Many in the environmentalist community and anti-shark diving lobby within Mexico are using this video and this singular event as a "raison d’être" for everything bad about cage diving within Mexico. One look at the video and you can understand why.
This video continues to overshadow the ongoing "laundry list" of positive steps taken by eco tour operators in good faith at this site. From donations of building material, boat engines, fuel, food and medicine, to the full support of Mexican lead white shark tagging and research.
It is high time those responsible for this event-step forward and take full responsibility for their actions of last November 2007. That means the following:
1. An open letter to the Mexican government posted to major newspapers and a full apology
2. A self imposed fine with funds being turned over to the new Bio-Sphere for enforcement activities
3. The removal of this video from You Tube. Its continued presence serves only to misinform and provide an incomplete look at the many thousands of hours of safe and eco minded shark diving that has been done at this pristine site.
Without steps taken now to mitigate the media and perceptional damage done to the entire white shark eco tour fleet, Isla Guadalupe and those who would see all shark diving activities at this site stopped is becoming a very real possibility:
A remote chunk of land off the Pacific Coast of Baja California, Guadalupe Island is a hot spot for shark cage diving. Every year one hundred or more great white sharks gather near the island, likely drawn by Guadalupe's tasty seals. In April 2005,
According to Mexican environmentalist and columnist Ivan Restrepo, a November 4 trip crossed the line in keeping sharks and people at safe distances. Restrepo reported in a recent column that a great white shark snagged itself on a cage which contained two tourists, ripping apart an entire section of the "barrier." Luckily, the two thrill-seeking tourists, who presumably got their money's worth, escaped harm.
Restrepo said a previous pilot study conducted by Dr. Jose L. Castillo Geniz, a researcher with Mexico's Regional Fisheries Research Center of Ensenada, resulted in recommendations to tour operators about where to place the bait and how to keep a prudent distance from the sharks.
"(Tour operators) promised to do it, but nothing more," Restrepo charged. "The lives of tourists and sharks continue being at risk."
The incident reported by Restrepo once again raised questions about the possible impacts of ecotourism on wild animals. Whale-watching, for instance, is an economic plus for coastal residents in
According to Restrepo,
"The business of taking tourists to watch white sharks on
On the other hand, tour operators maintain that their
"Great whites are listed as endangered in
Experts regard closer US-Mexico collaboration as essential for preserving the great white shark, which is an international traveler of excellence. After tagging a male great white shark with an electronic tracking device in early 2007, a cross-border team of researchers released the young predator into the ocean from the privately-owned Monterey Bay Aquarium in north-central
"It clearly shows that like many migratory animals, sharks don't recognize international boundaries," said Dr. Salvador Jorgensen, a researcher with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Hopkins Marine Station. "It underscores how important it is to work closely with our Mexican colleagues to make sure we have adequate protection for the species," Jorgensen told a
Sources: La Jornada, February 4, 2008. Article by Ivan Restrepo. Article by Kevin Howe. Guadalupefund.org