Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guadalupe Island, T- Minus 5 Days

The most exciting white shark encounters on the planet begin in just 5 days for us here at Shark Diver.

For those of you who will be joining us this season here's a first person trip report from 2008 by Shark Diver Olivier:

Trip Report:

It has been about two weeks now since I got my first fix. The world then rocks for about 2 days which makes every simple task somewhat of a challenge. Then the rocking stops, but the static images flashbacks in my head have not stopped, if anything they increased.

Hi my name is Olivier and I am a great white sharkholic.

I work in an environment where I deal with sharks every day, mean ones too . And I do it without the safety of a cage. The TV business is full of them, one hungrier than the other. The hours are very long, the pace is at best hectic, the tension high and my imagination is always on demand but I love it all.

Every time Shark week hits the discovery channel, I hit that either live or with TiVo. "Cage diving with great whites, I really wanna do that!" My wife of 11 years, the woman who I love more than life itself looks at me with her beautiful blue eyes and in unison we start reciting a couple of line of jaws:" You go in the cage, the cage goes in the water, our shark is in the water too?" Yeah... I really wanna do that.

I asked her a few days ago if she really thought I would go through with it. "of course I did, I know you."

There is now a beautiful great white on my enormous computer monitor. Enormous, I'd say about a 17 footer. Powerful, majestic and I took that shot as it swam toward the cage to check me and the other sharkholics out.

Guadalupe Island is truly magical. It is a place of beauty. The perfect setting for this adventure. You forget why you are there, until the first fin appears, even then what a rush. The journey was pure and fantastic, I found myself for 5 days with people sharing the same interest or fascination. There is nothing like your first time they say. well I had my first time 5 or 6 hours a day every day for 3 days straight and every time I stepped in the cage my heart was pumping like my first dive. Not out of fear though which surprised even me. It is one thing to say you want to step in a cage where at times 3 or 4 great whites are swimming around the cage, it is something else to do it all together. The critters all have different names and personalities. Jacques, Bruce, Pablo, Lucy, Shredder among others, My favorite? "Jacques" of course. He came by quite a few times, seems he was as curious about me as I was about him. Now it is entirely possible he looked at me and saw lunch. Why not? I looked like a seal and he is the predator of all predators. Yet in the cage I was never afraid, always in awe, but never afraid. I can't even tell you how many times the soundtrack of jaws played in my head and I am willing to bet that every single diver who has stepped in a cage with a great white heard that soundtrack at least once if not 12 times. I am so glad I did this.

The Crew of the Horizon was perfect in every way. They know the animals and their behavior, they surely respect them all. They had great humor were very supportive and so helpful. On my trip there was a marine biologist who was nothing short than a shark encyclopedia . Perfect. Every question I had was answered. he was there to film, photographs the great white for a future documentary he is making. I gladly offered my services for any help he may require and I do hope he takes me on my offer.

Quite frankly I can't wait to go back and do it again And I will. I went from a sharkholic to a sharkaddict in one minute and I bet I am far from the only one. My beautiful wife got it and as much as she made sure every single part I was born with was still attached to my body when I got back, she seems to understand why I went even more than I do and for that I am and will be eternally grateful.


Caymans Elasmobranch Police

Cayman Island "Stingray City" is a world class destination for interactions with wildlife.

Unfortunately local operators have not managed to self regulate the encounters at this site leading to a remarkable and industry eye opening government intervention this week - The Cayman Elasmobranch Police:

The Department of Environment has hired a full–time enforcement officer to ensure the well being of stingrays at the Sandbar.

Part of his job is to make sure operators and visitors do not lift stingrays out of the water, that boat operators are licensed and that vessels do not anchor on the shallowest part of the sandbar, potentially injuring the stingrays.

Complete Story

Shark Free Marinas - Fiji Initiative

Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco Adventure Resort and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters take the leading role in the world with a major shark conservation initiative in the gamefishing community.

KADAVU, FIJI ISLANDS – 14 July 2009 – Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco-Adventure Resort and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters are proud to take a world wide leading role in the the international Shark-Free Marina Initiative.

The international Shark-Free Marina Initiative works with marinas, boaters and fishermen to develop policy designed to protect a vital component of the oceans health, our sharks.

Matava Director Stuart Gow said:

"We have worked hard over the past few months in Fiji at certifying many marinas and charter fishing boats as ‘Shark-Free Marinas’ and so far have more than any other country worldwide".

Matava and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters was the first in Fiji to sign up and is actively promoting, coordinating and distributing information about the Initiative. We are working towards when Fiji can be the first country to be proud to announce itself as a ‘Shark-Free Marinas’ Country!” he continued.

The majority of shark species caught by recreational and sport anglers are currently listed by the IUCN as ‘Threatened’ (or worse) and each year an average of a ½ Million of these sharks are killed in the United States alone. It is estimated that 70-100 million sharks are killed yearly world wide!

Bite Me Gamefishing Charters actively avoids fishing for any species of shark and encourages this practice to be followed by all. By encouraging non-lethal ‘catch-and-release’ shark fishing fishermen and those sharks inevitably caught accidentally can enjoy their sport while ensuring that shark populations are not further diminished. By promoting sustainable practices of ocean management we hope that sharks will be around to keep our oceans healthy for generations to come.

Many Fiji marinas and charter operations are already listed on the Shark-Free Marina website as well as having the right to use the SFMI logo and signs for their own publicity. We are now in the process of distributing the stickers, posters and metal dock signs to registered businesses, charter boats and marinas.

The SFMI website also has an education centre that we hope everyone will find useful, it includes tips on how to catch and release shark, a list of Endangered and Threatened species plus information on how they can help protect the ocean.

“At Matava, and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters we are of course both happy and proud to be spearheading this initiative in the South Pacific and indeed the World” said Matava Director and Bite Me Gamefishing Charter Captain, Captain Adrian Watt.

“We also see this as a great step forward and opportunity for all gamefishing and sportfishing charter boats, both on Kadavu and in the Fiji Islands, to move forward in their standards to achieve truly world class levels of service and capabilities demonstrated by the ‘catch and release’ programs.”

Captain Watt finished by saying “We would like to thank all friends and clients of Matava and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters past and present who have contributed to the success of our ecotouirsm principles and the resort and we look forward to exciting times ahead.”
The Shark-Free Marina Initiative has a singular purpose, to reduce worldwide shark mortality. We encourage shark conservation at sport fishing and resort marinas by prohibiting the landing of any shark at the participating marina. The SFMI works with marinas, fishermen and like minded non-profit groups to form community conscious policy and increase awareness of the need to protect our sharks, our ocean and our legacy.

Matava – Fiji’s Premier Eco Adventure Resort, is an eco adventure getaway offering you a fun and unique blend of cultural experiences and adventure activities in the environmentally pristine and remote island of Kadavu in the Fiji Islands. Matava – Fiji Premier Eco Adventure Resort is a PADI Dive Resort as well as a Project AWARE GoEco Operator. With more than 12 years experience in the Fiji Islands, Matava is recognized as a leading educational dive centre. Matava offers accommodation for up to 22 guests in lush tropical surroundings in traditional thatched Fijian ‘bures’ with hardwood polished floors, louvre windows and private decks offering privacy, comfort and superb ocean views.

Bite-Me Gamefishing Charters is our on-site IGFA game fishing specialists offering the best of superb record breaking blue water game fishing for tuna, wahoo, sailfish and marlin. As an active member of IGFA and The Billfish Association we advocate tag and release of all billfish and Trevally not deemed to be a National or World Record.

Blue Water White Death - Recap

The film that inspired JAWS, a fascinating historical film and the granddaddy of all white shark documentaries. If you're curious about today's perception of sharks on film, it probably started here: