Saturday, December 29, 2012

Isla Guadalupe White Shark Trip Report 2012


All my life I have wanted to dive with great whites.

My dad took me to see Jaws when I was about 10 years old – maybe he thought it would be fun to scare the kids? Well, I loved it, couldn’t get enough of sharks after that.

So to be fortunate enough to actually get to go on a trip with Shark Diver was the opportunity of a lifetime. And it was really really amazing.

I had not been able to convince anyone I knew to come with me, so I went on my own. It didn’t matter though, there were several others on the boat who also came on their own. We also had a family of 4, plus a couple (who turned out to be avid travelers and divers, with many entertaining stories to tell).

OK, early on the first morning (after a rocking and rolling 20 hours on the open ocean to get there), my new dive partner and I were standing on the back deck, no one else around (they were all either still in bed, or having breakfast inside, or getting ready to dive).  I was trying on my wetsuit for the first time, which was dry – and I was dry – so this was not an easy task. As I was bent over wrestling with the leg of the suit, a great white shark breached clear out of the water, hit the deck railing (hard – I mean, these things are 12 ft + long), and splashed back into the water. I was about 2 feet from the railing, and I saw it's belly!!!!!  We had no time to be scared, it was about a second or two at most. With the colour drained from his face, my dive partner looked at me, walked into the centre of the deck, and said quietly, "holy #$%&#! we're all gonna die."

The poor guy had come to Guadalupe Island to get over his fear of great white sharks… so, not a good way to start! He was convinced we were about to be eaten. But then he started to joke about it, saying that pretty much nothing else could top this experience of seeing a great white jump out of the water right in front of us. And it’s true. I will always remember that split second, putting me into the realm of a very minimal group of people in the world who have ever witnessed a great white shark breach.

We were grouped in pods of 4 for our dive rotations, which went hourly – this meant we had on average 5 hours a day in the water. Ample time to see white sharks! (and get very pruney fingers soaking in water all that time)  There was a half hour break (no divers in the water) at noon for lunch. The cages went in the water at 7am, and basically they let us go in until 5pm or 6pm or whenever we were all too exhausted to get back in the cage.  In our initial trip information from Patric, it said that some people skip their rotations and others could get extra cage time – I wondered why people would travel all that way and just stay on the deck! But experiencing it was very tiring! And yes, I did end up skipping at least one rotation, and then on the last day I didn’t do the last couple of hours that were an open rotation. I could hardly pull myself out of the water towards the end of each day; I was completely drained, but in a great ‘once in a lifetime’ way!

The crew worked their butts off making sure each of us had the perfect trip. We were safe at all times. We ate enormous amounts of food (which was fantastic). Some of us had food allergies or sensitivities, and chef Mark made sure to cook individual meals for those folks (including me, no wheat and no meat). Although I must admit I had a small piece of the raspberry glazed Cornish game hen served one evening, and it was delicious.  Most of us went to our lower-deck bunks around 8pm each night because we could hardly keep our eyes open by then. And surprisingly, there was no drinking at all. Well, I think a couple people had a few, but remember, we were on the ocean and the boat never stopped rocking. Our stomachs were often feeling a little woozy at times, but most of us were good at re-balancing ourselves by looking at the horizon (this little tip worked well for me). However, I gave up trying to shave my legs on day 2, because I kept bumping against the shower wall as the boat tipped from side to side. 

We saw 9 great whites over the 3 dive days, 2 of which were ‘new’ to divemaster Martin – they had not previously been identified. Being September, the female sharks are not (usually) in Guadalupe, but we did see one – the rest were males. They are nothing like in the movies and on tv – these sharks were calm, docile, just slowly cruising by our cages, sometimes a little closer than anticipated, but I never felt scared! One of them came so close to me I stopped breathing in my ventilator and couldn’t even take a photo. I was mesmerized by every tiny detail I could see of its skin, and eyeball (yes, it was that close!) Having a great white shark look you in the eye is what the word awesome was really meant for.

I was in a true state of awe, for sure! It’s difficult to describe the feeling of getting to do the one thing that has always been on my bucket list. Long before anyone called it a bucket list. As a kid, I thought it was just always going to be a dream. Going on this trip was exhilarating and I have so many adventurous stories and memories – and it’s kind of nice to have some bragging rights once in a while too. J  But it doesn’t have to be a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip … I’m already planning my next trip to Isla Guadalupe.

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shark Sanctuaries: Dancing on Bonfires?

For those who have been blogging about shark conservation for the past five years the subject of Shark Sanctuaries has been a hot topic.

The primary reason as we have long said is that, "getting politicians to declare vast tracts of the planet as no take zones is relatively easy...getting those same politicians or their successors to put real dollars into enforcement of these newly created zones is something else altogether."

So went the conservation head of steam for sharks from 2008-2011 with some great results. The Maldives, Honduras, and the Marshall Islands all declared huge ocean based no take, or limited take zones to ecstatic Facebook acclaim and kudos from the major NGO's.

Some of this effusive praise was over-the-top as if regional governments had in fact stopped the decline of sharks completely in their waters and increased shark stocks by 1000% overnight as if by magic. The simple intonation of the words, "Shark Sanctuary" and commitment to paper signed by politicians to be framed for photo opportunities later was the magic cure all for commercial shark take.

But what of these zones? We wrote about the looming issue of SINO's back in 2011.

SINO's - Sanctuary in Name Only is a pejorative term that refers to a nation state whose recently declared "Sanctuary Waters for Sharks" are considered insufficiently enforced or otherwise not conforming to actual sanctuaries in any form.

As it turns out the second act of the much vaulted Shark Sanctuary is now playing out - enforcement or lack of it. 

Mike, aka Da Shark in Fiji, has unloaded on this issue with his own spin towards the "fisheries biologists" citing a report from Simon Frasier University that ends with this prescient warning:

Shark sanctuaries provide hope, but there is no scientific evidence that they are effective—yet. Even worse, the positive press attention surrounding shark sanctuaries may preclude more effective conservation management. 

As we said back in 2011:

SINO's are the looming Act Two for shark conservation. Getting a politician to make promises for the environment is a time honored tradition. Getting that same politician or his or her successor to follow through with hard and fast enforcement is where the rubber meets the road.

That rubber will cost millions of dollars to the shark conservation movement who have managed thus far to get Sanctuaries declared at a pace that has been stunning to watch. It has also been a relatively cheap affair, conservation light, with dollars spent verses sanctuary acres created part of the ongoing equation.

Where enforcement monies, infrastructure, and boots on the ground will come from for these newly created sanctuaries anyone knows.

Before another country declares a Sanctuary for Sharks we should be looking at how we are going to manage the millions of remote acres we already have locked away in countries that have a long track record of SINO.


It's where we have to focus in the next decade and it all starts with dollars and a plan.

 
Cheers, 

Patric Douglas 
Special Operations Film & TV 
Shark Divers 
www.sharkdivers.com 
415.235.9410

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all our friends from everyone at Shark Diver.

Cheers,

Martin Graf
Managing Director
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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Great White Shark season at Guadalupe (video)

It's been a great season at Isla Guadalaupe, with lots of breaches, multiple sharks around the cages, Sea Lions chasing sharks and the best Shark Divers in the world, you, our guests.

I finally got around to putting together a slide show/video for you.
Enjoy!

Cheers,
Martin Graf
Managing Director
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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good shark news out of China?

Hopefully this sight will soon disappear!
It seems like the tide is slowly, slowly turning. According to "Chinadaily.com.cn" About 6 percent of luxury hotels in three major Chinese cities have stopped serving shark fin.

The article further states that In Beijing, 132 hotels completed the phone questionnaire between Nov 20 and Dec 12. Only 12 hotels, 9 percent, said they do not serve shark fin. A similar survey of 131 Beijing hotels conducted a year ago found only one hotel that did not serve shark fin, Wang Xue, chief coordinator of the survey, said on Saturday.

Granted, it's a very small step, but especially viewed together with the recent announcement by the Chinese government that they will stop serving shark fin soup at state dinners, it's a sign that the Chinese are becoming aware of the international view on shark finning and are starting to respond.

You can read the whole story here.

We at Shark Diver hope that by sharing this article and acknowledging the positive steps they take, we also send a signal to China that we don't just criticize them, but also give credit when they do something right.


Cheers,

Martin Graf
Managing Director
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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The RTSea Archive - Brilliant Blog/Research Goodness

What can we say about the all new RTSea Archive 

It's a brilliant research tool for folks wanting background info on a wide variety of ocean conservation issues and film and television research.

Nothing like it exists on the Internet today and it will remain for a long while a simply great resource.

Next film project, check the Archive first,chances are you'll find some info in there that will change the way you tackle the issues.

Best of all The RTSea Archive is 100% free.

Enjoy your next archive visit.


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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bravo Mauricio - Isla Guadalupe Great

 

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Bull Sharks Killed in Playa del Carmen? Yup, We Know.

Image: proyectotiburon.blogspot.com
When you start blogging about the global commercial shark diving industry in 2008 you cover a lot of topics ranging from sharks, to conservation, to operations.

And after four years of blogging, 3800 posts, and over 1.5 million blog page views, we're running out of things to write about.

Well, let's qualify that to suggest we're starting to blog about the same issues over, and over, and over.

How many times can you talk about the shark nets in S.A?

Case in point, the ongoing shark slaughter (yes it is a slaughter) in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

We have been on this one since late 2009 and early 2010. It wasn't just us. Da Shark in Fiji has devoted many pages of good thoughts on the matter. He's the thing, there are good solutions being put forward by seasoned industry individuals in shark blogs and elsewhere.

Every commercial shark site is unique. Each site has its own mix of government regulation, or non regulation, dive site competition, outside pressures and in far too many cases - unwanted shark harvest.

While these mitigating factors may seem insurmountable they are all governed by basic conservation tenants and a plethora of tried and true conservation ideas and in place programs that work.

Getting back to Da Shark, once again he has proposed a number of these good ideas but will they be adopted? Probably not, and if anyone cares to note we're going into the third and fourth year of slaughter in Playa with no end in sight.

Yes, a number of good people have stepped up to help raise awareness and that is a good first start, but like all awareness programs the rubber meets the road when the slaughter ends or at least is curbed.

So for those wondering why we have been unusually quiet on the blog front? It's been covered.

It's up to the global shark diving industry now to innovate past what we have been talking about for many years. Up to individuals to create new tourism and conservation paradigms for sharks. It's not rocket science, it just takes time and energy and some thought. We're at the point now when it comes to shark conservation and commercial shark diving that many regional problems are in fact global problems being prosecuted elsewhere.

We'll stay active on the blog front, but just don't expect us to jump in on seemingly endless problems when real solutions, out of the box ideas, and innovation is as easy to access these days as a click of the mouse.

The commercial shark diving industry was born from the dive industry. It's time for those who dive with sharks to leave behind the stagnation and non innovative culture of diving and create something completely new and vibrant.

We know there are people out there ready to make this move. Make 2013 your year and maybe save some sharks along the way.

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sorry Everyone - No Shark Diver Sale


So now to addressing a "rumor" swirling around the Internet and the industry that Shark Diver has been sold. Rumors in the shark diving industry are as commonplace as those annoying little balls that get on cheap fleece sweaters.

To those in the industry who trade in rumors exclusively, we know this news might be of particular interest to you, and thanks for the the continued interest in our little company for the past 12 years.

Seriously guys don't you have better things to do but follow our lead?

In all seriousness the company has not sold. A cartel of high powered investors has not offered us $2 million, and no, we are not going away anytime soon. 

The reason? Probabaly because our divers love us:

 2012 Isla Guadalupe Trip Reports

We offer great shark tours with great staff and at the end of the day Shark Diver is a great brand. It was built on a strong foundation and made better year after year with the help of some seriously smart and talented people. When you work with the best the end product is pretty darn good.

That's tourism 101.

See you all for season 13 and another year of incredible shark encounters. 

Maybe we can come up with a better rumor next year?

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Sharky Boo Boo? WARNING Do Not Drink Hot Liquids While Reading!

We saying we're wiser now, o.k?
We might actually be considered Grey Beards in the shark diving/conservation space after 12 years.

That's a long time in any industry. 

We have been watching with some amusement the antics of an entirely new crop of Shark Kids on the block because you would have to have been living under a rock not to notice the plethora of in-your-face shark shenanigans going on across the world.

These exploits with sharks run the gamut from Speedo wearing daredevils attaching themselves to monster white sharks, to half witted warrior class shark saviors traveling the world to post lip stick written signs at the sites of dead sharks decrying the global harvest.

"Save the Sharks!"

"Buy our T-Shirt!"

"Watch our Show!"

For the most part all of these exploits, stunts, and media moments have been carefully staged under the heading of Shark Conservation. To us older folks who have been around a while, this hyper race to "get noticed," smacks more and more of PT Barnum Hucksterism then actual shark saving.

And so it was with great satisfaction we noticed another Grey Beard in Fiji highlighting the same thing in this weeks blog post - Sharky Boo Boo.

Now a note of caution here. If you have just started in the shark world none of this post will make any sense to you, as this is the world you know filled with wacky folks doing wacky things with sharks. Perhaps to get a series on Discovery Networks, who knows.

If you happen to have been around a while, own your own shark diving company, done a few doco's, then this post should be read without a hot beverage nearby as we have discovered the hard way that posts like these and hot beverages do not mix. 

Thanks Da Shark, welcome back from the DEMA Shark Circus.

Remember a decade ago when there were only two shark booths?

My how time marches on.

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Research Associate Position - Shark Research and Conservation Program

Research Associate Position - Shark Research and Conservation Program

Position Description
The Shark Research and Conservation Program (SRCP) based at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI), is seeking a Research Associate to assist with gener

al program management, including assisting with and/or overseeing all field research, education and outreach initiatives conducted by the program. The SRCP, founded in 2006, is based at the Cape Eleuthera Institute research facility situated on Cape Eleuthera, Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Over recent years the program has expanded its portfolio of elasmobranch related projects to include every major marine ecosystem in the greater Caribbean region and incorporates a diverse range of research techniques to approach predominantly applied conservation science questions.

This position would suite a recently graduated masters or PhD student wishing to expand their field experience and skill set. The ideal candidate is well-organized, attentive to detail, a self-starter who takes initiative, demonstrates stewardship, works well in adverse field conditions, has a passion for environmental conservation and a love of teaching students of all ages. They must be willing to stretch beyond a traditional job description as they live and work closely with the local community and The Island School (www.islandschool.org) and Deep Creek Middle School (www.dcmsbahamas.org). Research Associates work in a team environment with other research staff at CEI and will report to the SRCP Program Manager. Qualified Bahamians are strongly encouraged to apply.

Qualifications & Skills
MSc in Biological Science or related field preferred, or BSc with 3 years relevant research experience
Extensive experience with elasmobranch field techniques including capture based surveys and safe handling practices
Experience with grant writing and fund raising
Experience in experimental design, and biological statistics
Strong writing and presentation skills supported by a good record of peer reviewed publications and conference proceedings
Prior teaching experience
Excellent computer skills which include experience in Excel, Word, PowerPoint and statistical packages
Experience handling and operating small boats
Data collection, organization and management experience
Must tolerate a seasonal (very) hot climate, bugs, long field days and isolated but tight-knit community

Responsibilities
Research
Assist with and/or manage a variety of SRCP research projects
Manage a variety of databases pertaining to several long term SRCP projects
Assist with development of new projects
Assist with the development peer reviewed publications
Oversee the maintenance of all SRCP research equipment
Hire, coordinate, train, and mentor SRCP research interns and volunteers
Provide logistical support for visiting scientists
Teaching
Develop and deliver two (2) elasmobranch related semester-long Island School research projects each year
Participate in Island School semester preparation, orientation and debrief
Develop and document lesson plans and syllabi
Deliver lectures and field based classes
Grade and provide feedback for core research assignments
Meet with parents during parent-teacher conferences held once a semester
Mentor and guide the student’s final project (Scientific Poster & Presentation) for the end of semester research symposium
Produce end of semester student reports
Outreach
Work with the Educational Programs team to present SRCP research efforts to visiting groups and the local community
Deliver up to two (2), week long, “Shark Week” programs each summer which are designed to give high-school students hands on research experience
Represent CEI at local and international events/conferences
Generate project updates and manage SRCP related content on the CEI webpage
Liaise with the communications department to create popular media (articles, blogs, press releases)
Compensation & Benefits
Salary commensurate with experience
Room, board and medical insurance
4 weeks of paid vacation per year
Eligibility to enrol in retirement package after two years of service
Professional development opportunities
The opportunity to be part of a fast growing, young, vibrant research and education organisation that provides multiple opportunities for networking, and interaction with other NGOs, regional government organizations and academic institutions
Schedule

This is a full-time position requiring a minimum one year commitment with the potential for extension depending on circumstance. CEI operates year round and working hours vary depending on project needs but are typically Monday-Friday (7:00 am – 4.30 pm), however, evening and weekend work will be required on occasions. Special events in the CEI/Island School calendar will require periods of time outside of normal working hours when staff have to be on site for extended periods.

Application
Please submit a resume, cover letter, and a writing sample that addresses the following question: How can applied research initiatives enhance education and outreach efforts? Submit all of these materials in PDF format detailing your interest and experience. Please send all applications to: 6b6e+ac33@app.catchthebest.com (http://islandschool.catchthebest.com/apply/6b6e/ac33). We are collecting applications until the position is filled. The anticipated start date is February 1sh, 2013. We are a Bahamian equal opportunity employer.


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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remember those tongue eating fish parasites?

 In the hands of director Barry Levinson, you'll never eat crabs again.

NSFL - Not safe for lunch, or breakfast, or even dinner...ditto snack time.




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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

PEW Hiring for Global Shark Conservation

Manager, Global Shark Conservation

 Responsibilities:
  • Manage campaign consultants and their activities, in support of the development and implementation of shark sanctuaries and other national level shark conservation measures in target regions of the world, such as in Latin America or the Pacific.
  • Develop and maintain working relationships with decision makers, government officials and national and international institutions, as well as relevant NGOs in the field.
  • Assist in the development and success of a clear and focused strategy to meet identified campaign goals at the global, regional and national level.
  • Represent the Pew Environment Group and the campaign at meetings and events where shark conservation policies will be discussed.
  • Assist in monitoring, analyzing and influencing emerging shark policy proposals at regional fisheries management organizations (International Convention on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), InterAmerican Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) and the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and other intergovernmental bodies such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).
  • Develop and coordinate the production and dissemination of scientific and policy documents, and outreach materials for campaign shark conservation efforts. 
Apply here, good hunting.

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Great White Shark Gets Human Help

I've been frustrated with how the media deals with Great White Sharks and Sharks in general. It's refreshing to see a positive headline for a change.

Check out this great MSN video - Beached Great White Shark Gets Human Help



Cheers,
Martin Graf
Dive Operations Manager
Horizon Charters

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

You should have seen the Shark we saw!

Multiple sharks were a common sight on our first day
"Horizon"
Our last shark trip of the season started out like a typical August trip.  Multiple sharks all day, with "Horizon" putting on a fantastic show! Horizon was named after our boat and we haven't seen him for a couple of years. As far as sharks go, he's not the most careful individual,  proven by the fact that parts of his dorsal and caudal fins are missing. This year he showed up with a brand new mutilation on the top of his caudal fin. It looks like he had it bitten by another shark. All those battle wounds didn't stop him from cruising around full speed and entertaining our divers.

Horizon up close and personal
Day 2 started out with Bella, a huge female, cruising around before we even had divers in the water. After the initial few passes, the day progressed more like a typical October day. A couple of sharks making a few passes and then swimming off.

Just when we thought it was getting a little slow, a humongous  female showed up, coming up vertical from the bottom and turning straight at the cages and then, inches from it, she turned and accelerated away, giving the divers the thrill of a lifetime. You should have seen that shark!
I'm looking at you!

The trip home was a lot smoother than anticipated, with all the talk of a hurricane chasing us, we expected the worst, but had a nice ride home.









Cheers,

Martin Graf,
Dive Operations Manager
Horizon Charters



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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Titanic Fall Female at Guadalupe 2012!



We had another great trip then again they are all great but this one was special.

After a relatively calm crossing we arrived at Guadalupe to a beautiful sunrise.
On our first day of shark diving, we saw 4 different individual sharks. Max, Mau, Johnny and a young male shark we first saw earlier in the season.

Day 2 brought  7 known sharks, Bruce, Jaques, Chugey, Gianna, Smiles and Bite Face, along with 4 others that we didn't get a good enough look at to identify them.
We saw our first big female of the season! Bella, a massive female showed up on our last day at Guadalupe and thrilled our divers with a couple of very close passes.
Our way back was exceptionally smooth and we are back in sunny San Diego.

Cheers,
Martin Graf
Dive Operations Manager Horizon Charters

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

About White Sharks & Conservation: Richard Theiss at The Explorers Club in San Diego

There are some very smart people involved with sharks. They have the innate ability to see the many facets of oceans conservation in ways that bring new insights and fresh views towards the process.

One of these wise sages is Richard Theiss.

You probably don't know much about him because he's one of the quiet ones. He's not out in the community rattling media cages, seeking the limelight, or even trying to get his own Reality TV show.

Lord knows we have enough of these to last a lifetime and for the 100,000 metric tons of sharks that will be processed today absolutely nothing being done by these media conservation circus performers will impact that gruesome statistic.

About the only time you'll hear from Richard is when he has something to say and then the smart money is on those who pay close attention.

We have been paying attention to Richard for quite a few years now for reasons that include his talents underwater, to storytelling, to conservation.
 
If you want to get into the rarefied air of one of Richards few public engagements, be in San Diego Tuesday October 16th, 2012 at the Explorers Club.

Conservation is a long game, it's got many facets and like a hand knitted sweater if you pull on one thread it impacts the rest. Richard is going to show you one of the greatest conservation webs of all time and what can be done about it today, tomorrow, and in 30 years from now.

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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Great White Shark Diver 2012 - Joanne Faulkner

Some people love sharks and some people are willing to travel quite a ways to see them. Newly minted Shark Diver Joanne Faulkner is one of those people, and yes, Joanne, we'll have you join us anytime!

All my life I have wanted to dive with great whites. My Dad took me to see Jaws when I was about 10 years old – maybe he thought it would be fun to scare the kids? 

Well, I loved it, couldn’t get enough of sharks after that.


So to be fortunate enough to actually get to go on a trip with Shark Diver was the opportunity of a lifetime. And it was really really amazing.

I had not been able to convince anyone I knew to come with me, so I went on my own. It didn’t matter though, there were several others on the boat who also came on their own. We also had a family of 4, plus a couple (who turned out to be avid travelers and divers, with many entertaining stories to tell).

OK, early on the first morning (after a rocking and rolling 20 hours on the open ocean to get there), my new dive partner and I were standing on the back deck, no one else around (they were all either still in bed, or having breakfast inside, or getting ready to dive).  I was trying on my wetsuit for the first time, which was dry – and I was dry – so this was not an easy task. As I was bent over wrestling with the leg of the suit, a great white shark breached clear out of the water, and splashed back into the water. I was about 2 feet from the railing, and I saw it's belly!!!!!  

We had no time to be scared, it was about a second or two at most. With the colour drained from his face, my dive partner looked at me, walked into the center of the deck, and said quietly, "holy #$%&#! we're all gonna die." The poor guy had come to Guadalupe Island to get over his fear of great white sharks… so, not a good way to start! He was convinced we were about to be eaten. But then he started to joke about it, saying that pretty much nothing else could top this experience of seeing a great white jump out of the water right in front of us. And it’s true. I will always remember that split second, putting me into the realm of a very minimal group of people in the world who have ever witnessed a great white shark breach.

We were grouped in pods of 4 for our dive rotations, which went hourly – this meant we had on average 5 hours a day in the water. Ample time to see white sharks! (and get very pruney fingers soaking in water all that time)  There was a half hour break (no divers in the water) at noon for lunch. The cages went in the water at 7am, and basically they let us go in until 5pm or 6pm or whenever we were all too exhausted to get back in the cage.  In our initial trip information from Patric, it said that some people skip their rotations and others could get extra cage time – I wondered why people would travel all that way and just stay on the deck! But experiencing it was very tiring! And yes, I did end up skipping at least one rotation, and then on the last day I didn’t do the last couple of hours that were an open rotation. I could hardly pull myself out of the water towards the end of each day; I was completely drained, but in a great ‘once in a lifetime’ way!

The crew worked their butts off making sure each of us had the perfect trip. We were safe at all times. We ate enormous amounts of food (which was fantastic). Some of us had food allergies or sensitivities, and chef Mark made sure to cook individual meals for those folks (including me, no wheat and no meat). Although I must admit I had a small piece of the raspberry glazed Cornish game hen served one evening, and it was delicious.  Most of us went to our lower-deck bunks around 8pm each night because we could hardly keep our eyes open by then. And surprisingly, there was no drinking at all. Well, I think a couple people had a few, but remember, we were on the ocean and the boat never stopped rocking. Our stomachs were often feeling a little woozy at times, but most of us were good at re-balancing ourselves by looking at the horizon (this little tip worked well for me). However, I gave up trying to shave my legs on day 2, because I kept bumping against the shower wall as the boat tipped from side to side. 

We saw 9 great whites over the 3 dive days, 2 of which were ‘new’ to divemaster Martin – they had not previously been identified. Being September, the female sharks are not (usually) in Guadalupe, but we did see one – the rest were males. They are nothing like in the movies and on tv – these sharks were calm, docile, just slowly cruising by our cages, sometimes a little closer than anticipated, but I never felt scared! One of them came so close to me I stopped breathing in my regulator and couldn’t even take a photo. I was mesmerized by every tiny detail I could see of its skin, and eyeball (yes, it was that close!) 

Having a great white shark look you in the eye is what the word awesome was really meant for. I was in a true state of awe, for sure! It’s difficult to describe the feeling of getting to do the one thing that has always been on my bucket list. Long before anyone called it a bucket list. As a kid, I thought it was just always going to be a dream. Going on this trip was exhilarating and I have so many adventurous stories and memories – and it’s kind of nice to have some bragging rights once in a while too. J  But it doesn’t have to be a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip … I’m already planning my next trip to Isla Guadalupe.

Cheers,

Joanne Faulkner - Official 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 sharkcrew@gmail.com.