Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Get to know "Luca Arnone" Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island


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"Luca Arnone" listed as #163, is one of our recent additions to the photo ID database at Guadalupe Island. We first met him in 2013 and he has been coming back every year since.


Last year "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 should not cause him any permanent harm.


"Luca" is a fairly small shark, probably just shy of 12', but he doesn't seem to mind the bigger sharks and is a frequent visitor to our cages. 


Luca was named by one of our diver, who named 2 different sharks, one after his son, Luca and the other after his daughter Milana. Naming a shark is one way you can 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.

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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"?

If you want to find our for yourself what it's like to come face to face with a great white shark 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.

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 staff@sharkdiver.com.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Get to know "Scarboard" Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island


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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 skiddish, 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. Like most of our adult females, she shows up at Guadalupe Island every other year. After getting 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.

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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.

Last season "Scarboard" was being used for protection by some bait fish. 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.

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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 our 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 staff@sharkdiver.com.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Get to know "Screaming Mimi" Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island


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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.

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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.

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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. The 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 staff@sharkdiver.com.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Get to know "Lucy" Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island


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I love "Lucy", and I'm not referring to the popular TV show in 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.



Unfortunately "Lucy" doesn't seem to get pregnant. In 2008 she suffered and injury to her tail, most likely from a bite by another shark. Her tail is pretty much mangled and it probably affects her speed. I don't know if that's the reason she doesn't seem to get pregnant, but we have seen her every season, for the last 9 years.

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"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 Marince Conservation Science Institute, with over 220 individual sharks in 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 close to the cages, making eye contact with our divers as she is gliding by slowly.

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I hope to see Lucy when we return in the fall. I do have mixed emotions though. While I would love to see her, it would of course mean that she didn't get pregnant again last season.

If you would like to join us, or just get more information, call 619.887.4275, email crew@sharkdiver.com or visit our website www.sharkdiver.com

Let's go sharkdiving!

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 staff@sharkdiver.com.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Get to know "Bruce" Great White Shark at Guadalupe Island

The world is full of celebrities, but how often do you actually get to meet them and spend some quality time with them? Over the past 16 years, I've been privileged to do just that. I've met many stars of film and TV at Guadalupe Island. Stars like the incomparable "Shredder" "Bruce" "Jaques" "Lucy" "Scarboard" etc. All of those sharks have been featured in countless shark week episodes and their pictures are all over the internet. They truly are the rock-stars of Guadalupe Island.

I want to introduce you to a few of these Rock-stars, before our season begins in August.

In my last blog I talked about  "Bite Face", one of our regular sharks at Guadalupe Island.
 
Today I want to introduce you to "Bruce", another regular at the 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 220 different individual sharks. Who is going to be back this year? Who is going to make their first appearance? Come join us and find out! This is your chance to meet these celebrities 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!"

We run our trips from August through November and have a few spaces left for this coming season. We even have a couple of spaces open on our research trip on November 4. On that trip you'll 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.