Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cage Diving Trip Report - 2009

Editors Note: Pam Vaughn joined us in 2009 at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. As a shark fan who had only experienced sharks on the television, her many face to face encounters with the great whites here fundamentally changed her in ways that only experiential travel with "charismatic megafauna" can:

First I want to thank you and the entire crew of Shark Diver and Horizon for a fabulous "vacation". The atmosphere aboard the ship was definitely 5 Star! Every detail seemed to be taken care of, thus creating a very homey environment.

I had never considered Shark diving and it was not on my bucket list of things to do. I had never even put my head in any ocean. The best I had done was wade in the ocean. The ocean is a powerful force and one that contains many secrets including beauty, tragedy, and life lessons. My friend, Sudip asked me one day if I wanted to go shark diving as it was something he always wanted many to do. At first I thought, "No way!" My hesitation did not come from the likelihood of facing a great white shark. My hesitation was I had never been in the ocean much less diving. I listened to what he had learned from Patric of Shark Diver and my interest was tweeked.

I decided it was definitely something I wanted to do so we made plans for an August trip. Patrick kept in touch with us all along the way which for me was very helpful. His enthusiasm spilled over and soon I couldn't wait to go. Patric was awesome in answering all my questions and explaining how they accomplished the dives with nubies like me. Without giving away my age I truly thought I would be the oldest person on the trip. No way ! We had a 74 year old PRO on board. I am sure some of his pictures will be all over the world by now.

The crew was outstanding and very knowledgeable. They seemed like friends before we were even out of the harbor. I have to say the food on board was outstanding. We had gone sportfishing the day before and brought our "catch" to our chef extraordinaire.

For several days WE had the best sushi I have ever had!

When it was time to take my first dive I found myself for the first time in a "wet suit". Now getting one of these suits on takes some doing and often help. The staff was always there to help you in AND out of your suit. I also discovered a new use for hair conditioner. Mixed with water in a spray bottle and applied to the sleeves and legs of the suit made for a smoother climb into the wet suit. And the bonus was conditioning while you were diving.

Martin, the dive master was very patient and reassuring as he instructed us (5 nubies) in the art of cage diving. He was always mindful of our safety and when we were not in the cages he would point out various things of importance. He did so in the evening as we looked at our fotos! Initially I was a bit uncomfortable in the water but with each dive I gained more confidence.

When I saw my first great white shark in "the wild" I couldn't believe the grace and beauty of each shark. Each one seemed to have it's own personality and was identified by unique markings. Many of the sharks were well known to the crew and most had names. Sometimes I thought they were parading for the audience in the cages. Occasionally I got the feeling there was almost a game type atmosphere with the hang baits. I was completely captivated and our 1 hour dive rotations went by quickly. I never seemed to tire of seeing the sharks. The visibility was great and I could see them way below our cage. At times I was so captivated by them I forgot to snap a photo.

At one point a small boat came up along side of the Horizon. We were privileged to meet Mauricio and his crew. Mauricio is a well known shark researcher with an obvious passion for protecting the great white. We learned so much from talking with him and his crew. He is a dedicated young man that deserves all the support we can give him. He readily shares his knowledge with those he meets and his passion for sharks is infectious. After returning home I watched the DVD, "Island of the Great White Shark" and then I really was in awe of Mauricio"s accomplishments. I also saw the bond he has with the crew of the Horizon. They work together for a common goal.

I am definitely proud that I went shark diving. It was one of those moments in life that change you forever. I hope that the Great White Shark will be protected for all generations to see, not in a zoo but in their own environment.

Thank you for a wonderful experience,

Pam Vaughn

Minneapolis, MN

No comments: