Thursday, April 23, 2020

Introducing "Luca Arnone" a subadult Great White Shark at Guadalupe


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In our continuing effort to bring the sharks to you while we are all confined to our homes, let me introduce you to Luca Arnone. He is listed as #163 in our photo ID database at Guadalupe Island. We first met him in 2013 and he has been coming back every year since.


A few years ago "Luca" looked a bit rough. He was partially wrapped in a thick rope, which fortunately was being removed by Dr. Mauricio Hoyos, the local researcher at Guadalupe Island. The cut caused by the rope was not too deep and since white sharks have an amazing ability to heal, it did not cause him any permanent harm. When he swam by me last year, his injury was barely noticeable, with just a faint black mark remaining.




"Luca" was a fairly small shark when we first met him, probably just shy of 12', but he didn't seem to mind the bigger sharks and was a frequent visitor to our cages. He has grown quite a bit in the last seven years but hasn't lost his active behavior. He is still as curious as ever and exhibits a fairly dominant behavior, even towards bigger sharks.


Luca was named by one of our divers, who named 2 different sharks, one after his son, Luca and the other after his daughter Milana. Naming a shark is one way our divers support the ongoing research at Guadalupe Island. The Marine Science Conservation Institute, "MCSI" who maintains the photo ID has various levels of sponsorship available, including naming a shark.


Another way you can support "MCSI" is by coming on one of our "science" trips. A portion of these expeditions goes to fund the research and Nicole Lucas-Nasby, the researcher maintaining that database is coming along as the host. She is sharing the results of her research with you and if we encounter a new shark, you'll also have an opportunity to name that shark. How cool would it be, if you see a shark that you named on "Sharkweek"?

In the video below you'll see "Luca Arnone" with Alyssa and Tristan who named Crazy "Tryss" who we introduced you to earlier here


Our divers can also support the research by letting "MCSI" use their pictures to update the Photo ID database.

If you want to find out for yourself what it's like to come face to face with a great white shark once this virus crisis is over and maybe name one of these sharks, come join us on one of our expeditions. We do have some spaces open and would love to introduce you to our sharks.

Call 619.887.4275, email crew@sharkdiver.com or visit www.sharkdiver.com for more information.

Let's go shark diving!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives, Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Introducing Slash Fin, an iconic Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island


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Continuing to introduce you to the Great White Sharks of Guadalupe Island during our coronavirus quarantine, I'd like you to meet "Slash Fin",  #213 in our Photo ID database. She is a very active shark, swimming around normally and exhibiting all the typical white shark behaviors.


There is however something very different about this shark. Aside from a big lump on her side, she only has 3 visible gill plates on her left side. When looked at from the top, the left side of her head is pretty straight, while the right side curves out around her gills. It doesn't look like she is getting much water through her left side gills either and she seems to be breathing mainly through her right side gills.


Check out the video below. Aside from a nice bite injury she has, there are only 3 visible gill plates.



 When you look closely, you can see that she has 5 gill slits, but 2 of her gills are completely covered by another gill plate. The bite on her gills has nothing to do with this oddity, since she has looked this way since we first met her and the injury is new.



Aside from her gills, she also has a deformed dorsal fin, with the trailing edge looking all ragged. It could be due to an injury, but I don't see an obvious signs of a trauma there.


On her right side, just behind and below her dorsal fin, she has a growth that is sticking out at least 6 inches. Is it a tumor, or is something embedded in her body?

Watch the video below and check out that growth for yourself.



Slash fin is a subadult female and about 13' in lenght. Despite her deformities, she doesn't exhibit any signs of distress and seems to be doing well.

The longer I dive with these sharks, the more I'm amazed by the new things we discover and learn about them. Are her deformities genetic? Is it a birth defect? Or....? I don't know, I'm just reporting my observations. Any scientists out there want to take a look at this?

Once we leave this coronavirus behind us, come and join us on one of our expeditions to Guadalupe Island and meet our sharks face to face.

Contact us at 619.887.4275 or crew@sharkdiver.com for more info.

Let's go shark diving!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Introducing Screaming Mimi, a very unique Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island


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During our confinement at home due to the coronavirus, we are introducing you to a few of our favorite characters you might meet when you visit Guadalupe Island through a series of blogs. Today we'd like you to meet "Screaming Mimi"!

At Shark Diver, our goal is to not just take you to Guadalupe to see some Great White Sharks, we want you to get to know these awesome creatures individually. They all have different character traits and behaviors. How awesome would it be when the next time you watch shark week you can say "this is the shark that swam right next to me!"? So that you can identify the individual sharks when you come home from your trip, every one of our divers will receive a copy of our Photo ID to take home.

 We met "Screaming Mimi" a couple of years ago. When I first encountered her, I nicknamed her "Kinky".  She has a very distinct kink in her tail. I have no idea what caused that kink, since she doesn't have any obvious scars or signs of injury. She was named "Screaming Mimi" by someone through the "Sponsor a shark" program of the Marine Conservation Science Institute. That sponsor program is one of the ways they raise funds for the Photo ID database at Guadalupe Island.



Mimi is a very active and curious shark. When she encounters something new in the water, she exhibits a typical white shark trait. Unlike what most people think, white sharks don't just attack when they encounter something they don't know. They swim by close to check it out. It is actually quite funny some times. A couple of years ago, a beach towel blew overboard and started to drift down. 3 white sharks came by to investigate it. 2 of them jerked away and rapidly swam away when the towel moved a little in the current. The 3rd. one kept swimming close to it, jerking away, and getting closer again. I don't know if it eventually bit the towel or not, as I lost sight of both the shark and the towel in the distance.


Watch the video below of Mimi checking out my GoPro camera that was attached to a long pole and handled from the boat.


You can see that they don't just attack something they don't know. The swim by and check things out first.
Screaming Mimi ©Tim Peterson

Mimi also likes to swim really close to the cages and makes eye contact with the divers.



Mimi is around 14' long and not quite mature yet. It is amazing how big these sharks have to be, before they are mature and able to reproduce.

I hope we'll see her again this year. She loves to swim around the cages, sometimes for hours. It never ceases to amaze me that we keep seeing the same individual sharks year after year. It's not like they are resident sharks. They migrate thousands of miles each year but come right back to the same spot at Guadalupe Island.

If you want to come face to face with a great white shark and would like to learn how to identify these sharks, join us on one of our "science" expeditions. We do have some spaces open and would love to introduce you to our sharks.

Call 619.887.4275, email crew@sharkdiver.com or visit www.sharkdiver.com for more information.

Let's go shark diving!

Cheers,

Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Introducing "Chugey" an iconic Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island.

Since most of us are still staying at home during this corona crisis, I'll continue to bring some "shark joy" to everyone by introducing you to our great white sharks at Guadalupe. Today I'd like you to meet Chugey. He is one of the iconic sharks at Guadalupe. We first encountered him in 2004 and he's been regularly sighted ever since. One of his characteristics is his cut caudal (tail) fin. It pretty much resembles the tail of an airplane, with a flat top.

Chugey is a very active shark, to say the least. Being cautious doesn't seem to factor into his actions. He's had numerous injuries throughout the years, but seems to be just fine despite of it.

Just how rough a life does he have? We have talked about the amazing healing power of these amazing Great White Sharks here and it looks like they really need that ability to heal. Chugey, the shark we were talking about in that blog, was back at Guadalupe Island in 2018 and it looked like that he hadn't gotten any more careful since he got his face bit the first time. While his original wound closed quite nicely, he was sporting some brand new bite marks.

As a reminder, here is what he looked like 2 years earlier.


Here is what he looked like with his old scar and new bite marks.



This is another picture of Chugey, taken by one of our divers, Marie Tartar.



It's great to see him back at Guadalupe every year, acting like nothing happened. I continue to be blown away by both their ability to heal and never showing any signs of discomfort or indication that they are in pain, when swimming around with severe bite injuries.

Once this corona virus pandemic is over in the fall, we are heading back to Guadalupe Island for our 20th season of diving with our Great White Sharks. Nicole Nasby-Lucas, who is the person responsible for our photo ID database, will be coming out with us on 4 of our expeditions.  Thanks to her database, we can individually identify the sharks and also have a history of when they visited Guadalupe Island. In 2019 we added over 60 new sharks and are now over 360 individuals that have been sighted since we first started diving there in 2001.

How many new sharks will we encounter this season? I can't wait to get back there and find out.

What will he be named?


If you would like more information on our expeditions once this corona virus pandemic is over, Call 619.887.4275 or email us at crew@sharkdiver.com

Hopefully soon we'll be able to once again say "Let's go shark diving!"

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO
Shark Diver


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives, Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.
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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Introducing "Crazy" Tryss, a very unique Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island


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Continuing to introduce you to the Great White Sharks at Guadalupe Island during this coronavirus crisis, I'd like you to meet "Crazy" Tryss. Thanks to Nicole Lucas from the Marine Conservation Science Institute, we have a way to identify and keep a record of all the sharks seen at Guadalupe Island. This is how we know that on one of our 2018 expeditions we encountered a record-breaking 52 different individuals, including a whopping 16 sharks that have not been previously identified. This shattered our previous record of 34 individuals seen on a single trip.




It was not just the number of sharks we encountered that was unusual, it was also the behavior of one of the new sharks. Meet "Tryss", or crazy Tryss as I like to call her!  Tryss displayed a very unusual behavior for a Great White Shark. She came to the cages multiple times, without any bait attracting her, sticking her nose into it,  bumping the boat and squeezing through narrow gaps. She did all that in slow motion, never freaking out  like other sharks would, when they touch the cage, keeping her eyes open, totally aware of her surroundings.

Check out the pictures and videos of her.


"Tryss" coming between the cages and the boat.


"Tryss" sticking her nose into the cage.

Checking out the boat.


Sticking her nose into the cage.


Hello there!


Hey, anyone up there?



See ya guys!

In 18 years of diving with these amazing animals, I have never witnessed a shark behave quite like this. It just goes to show that they will never stop surprising you. That's why I love my job and am completely fascinated by these awesome creatures.

Shark Diver proudly supports the Marine Conservation Science Institute through our MCSI hosted expeditions.  Joining us on one of these expeditions is  a great way to learn about our sharks and support the research at the same time. Maybe you'll even get to name a shark, like the ones who named "Tryss" in 2018.

Once this coronavirus crisis is over and we are free to travel again, let's go shark diving!

For more information, visit  www.sharkdiver.com, email crew@sharkdiver.com, or call 619.887.4275

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives, Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Introducing Bruce, one of the biggest male Great White Sharks at Guadalupe.


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Continuing to bring you some positivity during our home confinement due to the Coronavirus,  I want to introduce you to "Bruce", another regular Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island. Bruce has been around since we started shark diving at Guadalupe in 2001. When we first encountered him, he was just a "little" teenager, probably not much longer than 11-12'. Of course we had no idea that we would see him year after year and that he would grow into one of the larger males at the Island. He is now on the north side of 16' and one of the dominant shark at the site. Despite his size, he is one of the more mellow sharks around. He keeps swimming around with, what seems to be, a grin that looks like he stole something and got away with it.

Bruce saying hello to Whitney, one of our divers!

Bruce is also the shark who got me interested in shark research. I have to admit, that reading scientific papers held about as much excitement to me as watching grass grow. It simply wasn't my thing. When Dr. Domeier tagged Bruce with a satellite transmitter and used some of the data it produced for his paper on white shark migration, Nicole Nasby-Lucas, who works with Dr. Domeier and is responsible for the Guadalupe photo ID database, gave me a copy of the research paper. I started reading it, and realized that this paper was not just a research paper, but more like Bruce's travel journal. It was exciting to find out where he was going, when not at Guadalupe and what he was doing. Who knew that he was vacationing near Hawaii?! I mean, who wouldn't want to vacation there? Did you know that Great White Sharks can go deeper than 3000'? Well, I didn't, until I read that paper.

Even though he is one of the more mellow sharks around, being a great white shark and male, Bruce was not averse to a little fighting here and there. I remember one particular morning. I was just getting into the cages to sort out all the regulators when I noticed some movement behind me. I turned and saw Bruce who looked me straight into the eyes. He sported a huge bite injury, just in front of his gills, with a hole that let me look straight through it and out his mouth. The amazing thing was, it didn't seem to bother him. He just kept swimming around and stayed active, like nothing had happened.

Bruce about a week after the bite.

Just like Chugey, when he came back the following year, his wound was closed and there was barely a scar to indicate that he was ever injured.

Bruce with his closed bite injury.


So that is Bruce.

Since we started shark diving at Guadalupe Island, we have met over 360 different individual sharks. Who is going to be back this year? Who is going to make its first appearance? Hopefully by the time we are ready to go back to Guadalupe, this coronavirus will be a thing of the past and we will find out! Maybe you'll be able to join us and get to meet them up close and personal. They do pose for pictures with you! Next time you watch shark week, you can say, "Hey, I know that guy!"


Hopefully, we will start our expeditions in August.  4 of our trips are research trips. On those trips, you'd get to meet the researcher who knows all about those sharks, Nicole Nasby-Lucas, along with all the rock-star white sharks of Guadalupe Island. Call us at 619.887.4275 or email crew@sharkdiver.com for more information.

Let's go shark diving!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Introducing "Scarboard" one of the biggest Great White Sharks at Guadalupe


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"Scarboard" is another one of my favorite sharks. You're probably beginning to see a pattern here. I have a lot of "favorite" sharks. It's is amazing how all these sharks have different behaviors. Some are a bit skittish, others are seemingly relaxed without a care in the world. Observing them for 16 years, I have grown attached to these guys and girls. However, as I always point out, I absolutely love these sharks, I'm crazy about them, but it is NOT a mutual feeling. As much as some people want you to believe that they just want to be hugged, they really don't. They are awesome predators, not out to get us, but they are not harmless pets either.

"Scarboard"

Scarboard is a massive female shark, one of our biggest at Guadalupe Island at around 19'. When we first met her in 2002, she was already huge. As most of our adult females, she shows up at Guadalupe Island every other year. After mating at Guadalupe, she is spending the year in between offshore, before giving birth off the coast of Baja or in the Sea of Cortez. She doesn't have any mutilations, like "Lucy" and so many others, but she does have a very unique characteristic that makes identifying her easy. She has a very distinct line from her nose halfway to her dorsal fin. Where most Great White Sharks' lines have a continuous curve, Scarboard's is straight.

"Scarboard"
After we first encountered her in 2002, she came back in 04 and 06, but then we didn't see her again until 2011. We don't know, if we simply didn't see her, or if she stayed away from Guadalupe for 5 years.

When we don't see a shark during the season we expect to see them, we always worry that something might have happened to them. Luckily, sometimes, like in Scarboard's case, we worry about nothing. Where do they go during that extended time away from the Island, what do they do? There is so much we don't know about those sharks.


The first time we saw Scarboard, after her 5 year absence, I was in the middle of our 2 cages, she slowly swam by the first cage, checking out each individual diver and when she came to me, she looked me straight into the eyes, stopped and did a 180-degree turn, looked at me again, swam off, turned and swam back at me, stopped again, turned and swam off. It looks like that she recognized me, even after a 5-year absence.

2 seasons ago, "Scarboard" was being used for protection by some baitfish. I've never seen anything like that before. When she swam by, she looked like the "Bearded Lady".

Scarboard the "Bearded Lady"
 
A lot of people are surprised to learn that Great White Sharks recognize individual divers. The fact that they do is not as strange as it seems. We know of lots of fish that recognize divers. Groupers that have a favorite individual they follow around, moray eels that come out of their holes when they recognize a diver, Wolf eels that wrap themselves around the neck of an individual etc. It's important to remember though, just because White Sharks recognize individual divers, doesn't mean that they "love" us, want to be petted, or have any feelings towards us. We need to respect them for what they are, amazing predators, neither mindless killers nor harmless pets.


For me there is nothing quite like seeing a familiar shark and realize it recognizes me as well. It still amazes me that we keep seeing the same individuals on a regular basis. They migrate thousands of miles but come right back to the same spot.

If you want to find out for yourself what it's like to come face to face with a great white shark and want to learn how to identify these sharks, join us on one of our "science" expeditions. We do have some spaces open and would love to introduce you to our sharks.

Call 619.887.4275, email crew@sharkdiver.com or visit www.sharkdiver.com for more information.

Let's go shark diving!

Cheers,

Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Introducing "Lucy", a Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island


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With the coronavirus holding us hostage in our homes, I decided to bring something positive into all of us shark lovers lives and introduce you to some of the sharks at Guadalupe Island.

First up is  Lucy! I love "Lucy", and I'm not referring to the popular TV show of the 50ies. "Lucy" is a large female Great White Shark, that is regularly visiting Guadalupe Island. Most mature females are only seen every other year. They mate at Guadalupe Island and then stay away from the Island until after they give birth off the coast of Baja and in the Sea of Cortes, about 18 months after they get pregnant at Guadalupe.



In 2008 she suffered an injury to her tail, most likely from a bite by another shark. Her tail is pretty much mangled and it probably affects her speed. Even though she is definitely a mature female,  we saw her every year until 2014, which meant that she didn't get pregnant, since pregnant females stay away from Guadalupe for a season and return every other year. I don't know if the mangled tail was the reason she didn't seem to get pregnant for all those years, but fortunately, she has started showing up every other year since then. Hopefully, this means that she is indeed getting pregnant now. We last saw her in 2018, so hopefully, we'll see her again this fall.


"Lucy's" tail makes it very easy to identify her. Usually we identify the individual sharks by their coloration. The transition from the white underbelly to the grey top is unique for every individual. Some people try to identify the sharks by their scars. That is how "Bite Face" got his name. The problem with scars is that they heal and if that is the only identifying characteristic you have, you would not recognize that same shark when it comes back the following year. Mutilations, like Lucy's tail, don't change and can be used in conjunction with the markings to identify her. We have a photo id database that is managed by Nicole Nasby-Lucas from the Marine Conservation Science Institute, with over 220 individual sharks identified.

If you are coming out on one of our "science" expeditions, you'll get a chance to learn how to identify these sharks from Nicole herself. You will also get the complete photo ID database, so you can identify all the sharks you encountered and what's really cool, you will then be able to identify the sharks you see on TV. How awesome will it be, when you see a shark on TV and realize that this is the individual that swam inches from your face at Guadalupe?




Even with her tail slowing her down, she seems to be healthy in every other way. She is definitely getting enough food and is holding her own among all the sharks at the Island. Lucy is a very curious shark and she swims very closely to the cages, making eye contact with our divers as she is gliding by slowly.


I hope to see Lucy when we return in the fall. She truly is one of my favorites.
If you would like to get more information, call 619.887.4275, email crew@sharkdiver.com or visit our website www.sharkdiver.com

Once this coronavirus allows us to get out of the house again, let's go shark diving!

Cheers,

Martin Graf
CEO Shark Diver

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives, Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.
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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

How easy is it to dive with Sharks?


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One of the big reasons why people never fulfill their dreams or take a leap of faith to try new things is because they fear the process requires a lot of work. So they throw up their hands and say “Forget it. It’s not worth it.”  We are here to tell you that the steps to experiencing an incredible life-changing adventure are easier than you think when you book with Shark Diver. It is our goal to make things simple and smooth as possible. The first step starts with a phone call or email; however you like to communicate.



The minute you connect with us, you have just done the hardest part; deciding that you are going to do something exciting with your life. Now, just let go and we will help you from here.


Gather information on the adventure that you are about to embark upon. There is plenty to know about shark diving. Ask questions. We will answer them and address your concerns. Is it safe? Yes. Do I need to be certified? No. How much does it cost? It varies on the stateroom style, but the starting price is $3095 per person.


You are ready to make the move? What do you do next? Put down a non-refundable $600 deposit per person. We take credit card information right over the phone. If you want to leave a deposit by another method of payment, such as a check or bank transfer, you can. Your spot will be held when we have received payment.

Next, purchase your Medical Evacuation Insurance. Shark Diver partners with AIG Travel Guard and DiveAssure for your convenience. It is mandatory to have this coverage since we are so far out at sea. Both of them include cancellation and trip interruption coverage as well.


Book your hotel accommodations IF you are flying or driving in from out of state and want to rest before and after your shark dive. Our adventure is a live-aboard trip, so no hotel accommodations are necessary if you arrive on the same day as your dive starts. Some people like to arrive a day or more early and stay after to prepare for their journey home. We partner with the Holiday Inn Bayside and Best Western Plus Island Palms which are both in the Point Loma area of San Diego; only 5-7 minutes from San Diego International Airport. Ask for the ‘Shark Diver Discount.’

Make a second payment of $600 by Jan 1st of your dive year and then pay off the full balance by May 15th of that same year. Payment plans are available as well if you want to make smaller payments along the way; monthly, etc.

Make sure your passport is valid and expires at least six months after you return from your shark dive.  We do travel to Mexico, so passports are required. If you need to order a passport, allow 6-8 weeks for it to be delivered back to you. Passports can be ordered through your local US Post Office.

If you are driving into San Diego and need to park your car, visit San Diego Airport Parking to find the perfect place to keep your vehicle while you are on your dive. You’ll find competitive rates and the best ways to save time and money.


Now you are ready to go! Pack your bags and prepare for an incredible adventure with Shark Diver. We will send you a suggested packing list. Keep your belongings to a minimum. You will be wearing a wetsuit for half of your trip, so there’s no need to bring the whole closet with you. This trip is casual all the way!

And there you have it; the basic steps to taking an incredibly memorable and life-changing adventure with Shark Diver. If you get nervous, just give me a call. I will walk you through any concerns you may have.  Shark Diver’s goal is to ensure that you have a great time. Making it great means smooth sailing from beginning to end.

Let’s go shark diving!

Cindy Michaels
Director of Communications, Shark Diver
 


About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives, Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at crew@sharkdiver.com.