Saturday, January 3, 2009

When Shark Tourism

We got a nice surprise last week in the form of a USA Today travel article on sharks featuring a shark diver from many years ago Jupp Kerckerinck zur Borg and his daughter Philipa. They both joined us in 2003 at our Isla Guadalupe white shark dive site.

Jupp has gone on to become a world class shark diver with over 120 shark dives to his credit and is the driving force behind his own shark conservation website.

Done right
, commercial shark diving inspires others to raise awareness about sharks and conservation. Thanks Jupp!

He was in over his head — and loving it

I learned scuba diving at the request of my daughter Philipa when I was 60 years old and fell in love with it. As a thank you, I invited her on a cage dive to see great white sharks at the Pacific island of Guadalupe, Mexico, with Standing in the cage, I saw my first shark swimming by, so close that I could almost touch him. I was 64 years then and I never imagined how this trip would give my life a totally different direction.

When I sold my ranch in upstate New York a couple years later, I started to book dive trips where sharks were included. My first shark dive without a cage was in the Bahamas. Jumping into the ocean, knowing that there were at least a dozen Caribbean reef sharks down there, was a bit weird. But I jumped in anyway.

The sharks were inquisitive but never aggressive. I fell in love with those beautiful, amazing and highly developed animals. I started to read every book I could find and started my own website, I am now an avid shark protector and am now on the Board of Trustees of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton, N.J. I give presentations about sharks in schools and colleges to tell as many young people about the importance of sharks in our oceans.

After 120 shark dives, I am still in love with sharks and take every opportunity I get to dive with them.

— Jupp Kerckerinck zur Borg, Millbrook, N.Y

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