Monday, July 30, 2012

Isla Guadalupe 2012 and Shark Diver Jim Miller

Here at Shark Diver we have a fan base that translates into return divers year after year, we call them "The Hard Core Shark Divers."

And none is more hard core than Jim Miller who penned this trip report for us at the start of the 2012 white shark season at Isla Guadalupe.

Thanks Jim, see you in a few weeks:

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

An open letter to potential shark divers from a two time shark diver (third trip coming up in September 2012).

When I landed back home in Boston with all the stories, pictures, and video, I asked myself, do I really need to go back? The answer comes quickly and easily. Absolutely, yes! I relive one of the most intense experiences of my life every night as I sleep, and I’ve done it twice! How many people can say that they’ve been close enough to touch a Great White Shark? That they’ve been in the water with one of the world’s most perfect predators? What possible reason could I have for going back? 

I am not an adrenaline junkie nor do I have a death wish. Honestly, there are a lot of reasons. First and foremost is my new found love for the animal. I had an intense fear based on an experience from childhood. I wanted to beat it and it only took me 40 years to muster the courage. Being in such close proximity to these enormous, powerful, and graceful creatures is just unbelievable. There are no words to properly describe the experience. The only way to understand is to be there. You can watch Shark Week all you want, but frankly, it’s the difference between a riding a skateboard and driving a Lamborghini Diablo.

We all work hard and deserve to take time away from the chaos of daily existence.  I had been considering shark diving for several years, my fear getting the better of me every time. In 2010, I resolved to at least take the first steps to making the trip a reality. I decided to contact Patric Douglas, CEO of Shark Divers, with my concerns. Truthfully, I figured that being the CEO, he would either blow me off or just tell me what I wanted to hear in order to make the sale. 

I could not have been more wrong. 

During our first exchange, I spent approximately 45 minutes on the phone with this guy who I had never spoken with before. Within the first five minutes of the conversation, we were on a first name basis and it felt like I had known Patric for years. However, I am still a skeptic, and that mandates that I do my due diligence, salesmen be damned. My search turned up several stories from happy shark divers. My decision was made, but still, I decided that I would reserve judgment until the trip had concluded. My conclusion is that Patric Douglas is not a salesman. He is someone who cares deeply about the environment and the preservation of the wildlife that lives in it. The same can be said for the crew M/V Horizon.  

When I first boarded the Horizon back in August 2010 for my first trip, I was treated like royalty, which is a bit much for me to take. Honestly, I was more than a little wound up and scared. In other words, I was as ready for this trip as I would ever be. Being from Boston means being a bit more intense, so when someone tried to take my luggage out my hands, I thought I was going to have to get mean. I just was not used to being treated so well! It wouldn’t have mattered much, because Mark would have kicked my butt anyway, just sayin’. I said to him, “I can carry my own luggage, buddy”. He responded with “this is your vacation”. 

With that, it began and I let him have my suitcase. This brings me to Captain Spencer Salmon, who never ceases to crack me up. Captain Spencer is all business, but one would be hard pressed to see him being anything other than relaxed. He is a very unique character to say the least. Then there’s dive master Martin Graf, who briefs and instructs the divers on policy, procedures and dive safety. Martin provides a wealth of knowledge on Guadalupe White Sharks and all dive related information one would need to have a great trip. He knows the sharks by name and in some instances, does not need to be in the water to identify them. Martin is an important resource for the divers and a critical part of the Horizon crew. I can’t forget Captain Kyle, who I believe is a New York Giants fan… Can’t be perfect I guess, but still, another reason for me to be a repeat customer…  I just can’t say enough nice things about the crew. They are a huge part of the reason why I want to go back. 

Oh, and did I mention Chef Mark? How could I possibly forget Mark?   

The man who keeps us well fed and fueled up for diving! Chef Mark prepared the best steak I ever had. You read correctly. The best steak I ever had was on the MV Horizon. I don’t know what magic he used to prepare that steak; I just hope he uses it again in September! 

Yet another reason for returning has to do with the people you will meet and the friends that you will make during this adventure. I’ve made some pretty good friends on both trips that I am still in touch with. In fact, I know of two people that I dove with last year who will be returning this year. On my 2011 trip, after a hard day of diving, I can remember sitting down with my friends, Julie, Sean, James, Jack, Pierre, and Janice and talking about the day’s adventure over cocktails. 

If you are the type of person who has a hard time changing gears from work to vacation, you’ll be happy to know that it’s pretty easy to do on this trip. There is so much to take in, that it’s almost over-whelming. I can remember Captain Spencer cutting the engines on the way to Guadalupe and informing everyone over the P.A. system that there was a pod of Blue Whales just yards away from the ship. You almost expect a “Jurassic Park”-like experience.  You have to have your camera ready at all times. For example, during my first trip, we had a white shark perform a full breach, just feet away from the ship. No one saw that coming… And no one captured that on film, but I will remember it forever.

So with that said, I am 49 days away from my third trip with and the MV Horizon to Isla Guadalupe and I am going crazy… The anticipation is tangible. I’ve watched the film I’ve taken from my previous trips countless times. There is nothing that I can do to appease the ache. I have an intense longing to be back in the water with Shredder, Bruce, and the rest of the Guadalupe White Sharks. As far as I am concerned, this is no longer just a vacation for me. I have found a cause that I love and can get behind in such a way that affords me the opportunity to actually have a positive impact. This is an opportunity to make a difference. 

After this experience, you will have no choice but to talk about the adventure with people close to you about the plight of sharks as a species. Your words will travel. The act of you telling your stories will spread awareness. Not to mention that you will have the time of your life. So I’m carefully planning what gear I’ll be taking with me this year so that I can better communicate what I

Tonight, I’ll be dreaming of September 15th, 2012 and the start of another adventure that I will never forget. 

Shark Diver, 

Jim Miller

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

Reunion’s Surfers Demand Actions after Fatal Shark Attack?

Hat Tip: Shark Year Magazine

Helmut Nickel, Shark Year Magazine, 26. July 2012
After third shark attack fatality,
Protesters ask Prefect of Reunion Island to allow shark fishing in Marine Reserve.

In the aftermath of the latest fatal shark attack in Reunion (here), about 300 people (most of them surfers) gathered in front of the Prefecture building in Saint-Denis early this afternoon.

The protesters demanded from the Prefect to implement measures that would prevent such tragic shark incidents from happening again.

“We made this gathering so that the prefecture is beginning to listen to us, and we can find solutions to the overpopulation of sharks,” said bodyboarder Amaury Lavernhe.

The ‘Océan Prévention Réunion’ Association (OPR) said about the protest: „… this is an important opportunity to voice our outrage and to demand that real steps are taken to stop this massacre (=fatal shark attack)

More concretely, a delegation of ten people had the chance to meet Reunion’s Prefect, Michel Lalande, and asked him to open the Marine Reserve for shark-fishermen. It is believed that this nature reserve has become a kind of ‘pantry’ for Reunion’s sharks on the west coast. This has consequently led to an abundance of sharks and a higher risk of attacks in the region. Although there seems to be a lack of scientific evidences to support this conjecture. According to some local scientists, it appears to be a combination of factors that can explain these shark bite incidents.
Outside the Prefecture building, the protesters were shouting : ‘Open the Reserve now ‘.

After a minute of silence to honour the shark attack victims, numerous surfboards were laid in the garden of the Prefecture as a protest gesture.

UPDATE, 27. July :  Please see the related Video Surfers protest outside the Prefecture in Reunion Island

 Source and Photo Credit: zinfos974. Other Sources: , facebook.

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

Volkswagen Shark Week 2012 - The Engineering Team

The engineering side of the 2012 Volkswagen Shark Week Commercial came from the pairing of Florida based Greg "Moondog" Mooney and the absolutely metal genius of Andre who quickly picked up the nickname, "Metal-Angelo."

In the world of sight engineering there's no better crew and the results after 20 days of hard work speak for themselves.

These guys were the heart and soul of a completely revolutionary undersea vehicle.

The challenge for this particular vehicle, being a wet submersible, ran the gamut from propulsion systems which were provided by Silent Submersion to a complete made to order life support system that no one has ever seen before.

In short, this unique engineering crew designed, created, and launched the equivalent of an undersea moon shot in 20 days.

Here's the second teaser installment of the 2012 Volkswagen Commercial - enjoy:


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

Sheep ships can have no influence whatever on the Great Whites

Drinkin' from the media fountain again?
"Shark expert Hugh Edwards and WA Agriculture Minister Terry Redman have backed the Australian Live Exporters Council in rejecting the Humane Society International’s (HSI) attempts to link recent tragic shark attacks off the WA coast to live sheep exports."

A fine howdy-do this morning as we awoke to this anti-shark/sheep media report out of Australia.

No doubt planted by our blogger nemesis in Fiji, one Da Shark, who never liked the idea of a causal link between hundreds of dead and floating "sheep pops" on the surface of the ocean to increased shark activity in a given region and unfortunate shark strikes on humans.

We cite two things wrong with this story.

1. The shark expert mentioned in this piece is a paid hack of the Australian Live Exporters Council.

2. La la la la la la la.

So there.


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

Shark Conservation - The Show Boats, the Sloggers, the Volunteers, The Public Media Conservationists, and then the Piggy Backers.

Every once in a while along comes a new shark blogger voice that cuts through the noise, digs deep into the world of sharks, and comes up with entertainingly brilliant stuff.

Such is Paul De Kock and his blog SharksWild this week.

Paul takes an unflinching look at shark conservation today and distills down to the "fun-de-mental" aspects of it including personalities, egos, orgs, and their efforts.

It's great stuff and smart writing.

The good news is there's an actual shark conservation movement out there. Not something that was even on the radar back in 2003.

But like all conservation efforts for whales, seals, tuna or sharks, once the movements have gelled it's important to sit back and take a hard look at current programs and solutions. Not something a lot of folks want to do, but ultimately necessary.

Sideways drift with conservation is something that all efforts suffer from and the notion that any conservation effort which brings "basic awareness" to an issue years down the line, no matter how self serving, is good for the effort - is false.

It's one of the tools organizations like Sea Shepherd uses to suck conservation donations out of the conservation space. Money that could be used to help next gen boots on the ground programs like replanting vast swaths of mangroves for shark nurseries is instead going to multi media extravaganzas that do nothing but demand conservation dollars from unwitting Facebook users.

Every conservation effort has stages. Initial stages are all about "awareness" but once an effort has enjoyed over 5 years of sustained effort, the next stages must be metrics based solutions that move away from awareness to action.

Read - The Show Boats, the Sloggers, the Volunteers, The Public Media Conservationists, and then the Piggy Backers.

Recognize anyone here?