Isla Guadalupe, Mexico is an ecological gem. A site with a seasonal white shark population estimated at perhaps as much as 33% of the entire western pacific base.
Why would anyone do anything at this site that could cause a shark to attack a human?
That's the question all the operators are asking this week as another promotional flyer circulated the dive world offering cage free encounters with great whites for $5900 per diver.
For operators who have dedicated almost a decade at this site, out of cage experiences with regular divers is an unwritten policy we have all agreed never to do - for reasons that time spent with these magnificent animals have taught us first hand.
Unfortunately, the nature of organic shark diving sites often finds newer operators who are willing to push the limits of shark diving encounters past sustainability. We have seen this kind of thing all over the planet.
An attack on a diver outside of a cage at Isla Guadalupe would certainly end commercial shark diving at this pristine site and perhaps end the very existence of white sharks here as well. This unique site, now devoid of a seasonal dive boat presence and left open to sport fishermen, would become a scene of mass slaughter.
Is it worth the risk? For $5900 per diver and a few images?
"For an additional fee 5 people will be able to experience a once-in-a-lifetime experience of being out in the blue with these incredible animals. Under the right conditions and with safety divers watching your back, you will be able to witness what it is like to be closer to a great white shark than anyone can dream of. Amos Nachoum has 28 years experience diving with Great White Sharks off Long Island New York, Australia,South Africa, and off the Farallon Islands, San Francisco. Ask about this option when you register for the expedition."
As the owner of Shark Diver I am saying it is not worth the risk.
Back in January of this year I spoke with Amos Nachoum directly and he assured myself and all the operators at Isla Guadalupe he would not be offering out of cage diving with with his divers in 2009. Full stop.
This week he sent a promotional flyer to a well known diver in our small community and even offered a discount on this same trip. The flyer was sent to me and I am posting it here. It refutes all earlier claims told to me in good faith and clearly, in no ambiguous terms, highlights cageless encounters for $5900.
Is it worth the risk?
Yes, we all know divers assume risk when encountering sharks, but what of the aftermath of an attack? What happens to the sharks? Does anyone care?
As a dive community we have responsibilities to the animals we make a living from. We should never assume "it can never happen" that is a fools bet. Putting wild predatory animals into a seemingly no-win situation with divers from the general community is both wrong and irresponsible. I believe that out of cage experiences with white sharks at Isla Guadalupe is something the general public should never do, and we as operators should not enable it.
Film and television productions with dive professionals is a different subject. Amos has what it takes to go cageless with white sharks. I have been a fan of his underwater work, he has more hours in water with big animals than many of his peers, that gives him the right to interact with these animals cageless on his own time and in his own manner - but not the right to invite a diver from the broader dive community to join him.
This blog post is, of course, one mans opinion, one operators choice. A choice made with the sharks in mind first and foremost, and an eye towards a long term future where man and wild animal benefit from close proximity and mutual understanding.
Isla Guadalupe is not a proving ground for new dive and predatory animal interactions. It is and remains one of the planets most unique dive sites. We are fortunate to encounter white sharks here and in deference to a long term future with them - we stay behind cages.
Amos and those like him should consider doing the same.
Patric Douglas CEO