Monday, February 8, 2016

Wanna dive with Bull Sharks?


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Bull Shark Diving Fiji

Bull Sharks in Fiji are calling you in May of 2016.

Experience what many call the world's best shark dive. We are diving with big, really big bull sharks. The sharks at the Shark Reef Marine Reserve are up to 12 ft. long.


Beqa Adventure Divers will take us out to shark reef, where we will be diving with as many as 70 bull sharks at a time, with the occasional tiger shark showing up for a visit. If that is not enough, during our safety stop we will be surrounded by scores of black- and white-tip reef-sharks, making for the perfect end to an unforgettable dive. On our non shark diving days, we'll go out and explore the soft corals and wrecks of Beqa Lagoon. Discover what over a decade of conservation efforts have resulted in!




This May, Shark Diver's CEO Martin Graf is personally going to lead you on this shark lover's dream vacation!




We will be staying at the luxurious Pearl South Pacific Resort in Pacific Harbor,  where we'll feast on a delicious breakfast buffet each day, to prepare us for the exciting shark diving that lies ahead.






Price: $1800 per person/ double occupancy

Price includes:
  • 7 nights in a brand new Garden View room at The Pearl South Pacific Resort (double occupancy)
  • Breakfast buffet daily
  • 4 days of 2-tank Bull Shark Diving
  • 1 day of 2-tank Soft Coral Diving
  • Round-trip transfers from Nadi Airport to The Pearl South Pacific Resort
  • All taxes (tip for dive crew and hotel staff not included)
Our dates are: 

May 2016, 6-15, 13-22, 20-29, 27- June 6 and June 3-12 (sold out) The trip dates are from the US. We are crossing the date line on our way to Fiji. When we leave on Friday night, we arrive in Fiji on Sunday morning. On our way back, we leave Fiji on Sunday night and arrive in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.

Above dates don't work for you? Call us and we can customize a trip for you.


Come join us on this incredible adventure!

Call 619.887.4275 or email staff@sharkdiver.com to book or get 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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Can our loving sharks be bad for them?


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How could our loving sharks possibly hurt them? After all, we want to protect them and are fighting those who are hurting them. Why would I even suggest such a ridiculous thing?shark diving, cage diving, swimming with sharks, Guadalupe Island, Great White Shark, shark conservation
OK, lets look at what is going on. I have written about what various conservation  groups are doing here. This time I want to focus on how they are doing it.

Most of us are interested in shark conservation because we love sharks. This love is a powerful motivator to get us to act and and actually do something, instead of just standing on the sidelines. That same love for the sharks is also what can make our efforts ineffective. We tend to argue from the heart and demonize the ones that don't agree with us.

Take this post on Eco Phuket's facebook page. It shows a spearfisherman who shot a shark, cleaning his catch. The comments range from "That is shocking behaviour bloody Neanderthal" to "We got to get this killer consumer out of the water!" How do you think this spearfisherman is going to react to being called a "Neanderthal" and "killer consumer"? Do you really think that will help him see your side and stop fishing for sharks?

Movies like "The cove" show the slaughter of dolphins and pretty much chastise the Japanese for hunting dolphins. They don't just criticize the way they slaughter them, but  the fact that they are killing them in the first place. How do you think the Japanese feel about the way they are portrayed in that movie?

When it comes to shark fin soup, there are plenty of people who just blame the Chinese for the shark finning that is going on. Again, we are demonizing a culture and it is us (the good guys) vs. them (the bad guys) Aside from the fact that it is not just the Chinese that are to blame, ( watch the video below) it is simply not helpful.


Guang Zhou Market for Sea Shepherd USA from Gary Stokes on Vimeo.

I think the first thing we have to do is realize that a shark is just a fish and a dolphin is just an animal. The issue is not weather we love them or not, but rather is the taking of these animals sustainable, is the killing humane etc.  To give you an example, most of you who read this are probably living in the western world and being used to its customs. So when we attack the Japanese for eating dolphins, the Chinese for eating shark fin soup and the Koreans for eating dogs, because it's just not cool to eat those animals, we don't consider what other cultures, e.g: India, must think about our custom of eating "holy cows".

I know, it hurts to see a shark killed, a dolphin slaughtered or a dog eaten, but if we demonize the ones that are doing it, we won't really get them to change. It's just like in politics each side is just blaming and demonizing the other and nothing gets done.

It's easy to get fellow conservationists to agree with us, but how do we get those who don't agree with us, to see our way? As painful as it might be, we actually have to seek a dialogue with those who don't see things our way. There are many individuals and organizations that get it and are doing exactly that.

In Fiji, Beqa Adventure divers helped establish the shark reef marine reserve, which included involving 3 fishing villages who's fishermen agreed not to fish in that area in exchange for receiving a fee from all divers, diving in that area. After 10 years of protecting shark reef, a fisherman told Mike Neumann that before the shark reef marine reserve was established, he could not catch any fish from shore, but now there are plenty of fish there, a spillover effect. This is a great example of conservationist seeking a dialogue with the fishermen and working together to make changes.

Another example is the shark friendly marinas project. By talking to marinas that are home to many sportfishermen, it got some of those marinas to agree to not allow any caught sharks to be landed there. Again, this project is relying on seeking a dialogue with those who are fishing for sharks and make them aware of the problem associated with shark fishing.

Yet another example are fishing tournaments. Guy Harvey is someone well known in the fishing industry and a sponsor of many fishing tournaments. It's easy to condemn shark fishing tournaments, and demonize the fishermen participating in it. But here is how I see it. Instead of having a tournament that catches and kills the sharks, they now catch, tag and release the sharks. Is this ideal? Do all the released sharks survive? No, of course not. But it is way better than the catch and kill tournaments and it makes the fishermen involved in the conservation efforts. Also Guy Harvey, a fisherman, supports many other ocean related conservation efforts.

And who would have thought that the consumption of shark fin soup in China could decline by 70%? Efforts by various groups and Chinese celebrities have turned the tide and it's no longer considered fashionable to serve shark fin soup in China. Again, education and working with a culture instead of against it, has shown results.

It is perfectly fine to love and care about the sharks! I do! We just have to remember that in order to change things, we should seek a dialogue with those who don't see things our way and not just condemn and demonize them. If we only accept a world where nobody kills any sharks and we are not willing to compromise, we will never get things to change. We also have to be prepared to be attacked and ridiculed by our fellow conservationists, for working with the "enemy". Personally, if I can do something that saves just one shark, I don't care what anyone thinks. If they call me a traitor for supporting a catch and release tournament, so be it. For me it's not about the praise of my fellow shark lovers, but about saving the sharks.

OK enough of my rant, I just had to get this off my chest.

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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Breaching great white sharks at Guadalupe Island



Grind TV has a nice article about our breaching great white sharks at Guadalupe Island.
It's nice to see that the media has caught on to the fact that great white sharks are not only breaching in South Africa. Thank you Pete Thomas for a nice article and for mentioning Shark Diver.

Pete Thomas writes:Gerardo del Villar posted video clip to Facebook and YouTube this past week, and linked to a Spanish-language blog post about the island’s white sharks, which rarely breach, and for reasons that are unclear.
Del Villar suggested that Guadalupe’s breaching sharks could be trying to establish dominance in the presence of other sharks, or to remove parasites.
However, Shark Diver’s Martin Graf, whose company pioneered shark diving at Guadalupe Island, said that often it’s the smaller sharks that breach. The larger sharks are the dominant predators.
Said Graf: “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Usually they breach without any chum or hang-baits in the water. Early morning and dusk seem to be their preferred times, but it can happen anytime.”



Read the entire article at http://www.grindtv.com/wildlife/rare-great-white-shark-breach-videotaped-at-guadalupe-island/#hofozHm4i3bbfwm6.99

You can join us and dive with these amazing sharks. We only have a few spaces left for this season, but are already booking for 2017

Call us at 619.887.4275 or email staff@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 staff@sharkdiver.com.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How not to dive with sharks!



We at Shark Diver believe in "Safe and Sane" shark diving. The example in the video below is how NOT to dive with sharks.


Ataque provocado de un tiburón. OJO IMÁGENES FUERTES que pueden herir la sensibilidad del espectador.El ser humano es lo más estúpido que he descubierto en mi vida.
Posted by Buceo Recreativo on Tuesday, January 26, 2016
For years we have warned about how stupid and dangerous it is to ride, hug and harass sharks in the Ocean. So here you see first hand what can happen, when you don't respect the sharks. They are not mindless killers, but neither are they pets that just want to be hugged. If you love sharks like I do, you respect them for what they are and are not trying to make them into something they are not.

Diving with Great Whites from the safety of a cage.

We at Shark Diver offer "Safe and Sane" diving expeditions, where you get to see sharks up close and personal, without any touching or harassing of the sharks.

Up close and personal. No touching needed.

I always say "I absolutely love sharks, but it is not a mutual feeling". The sharks don't love me, it's not in their nature and that is absolutely fine with me.

Let's go shark diving and see what these magnificent creatures are all about. No touching, no hugging, just enjoying the awesome feeling of being in their presence.

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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Paul Watson and the sinking of the "Ady Gil"

There are a lot of conservation organizations out there, all looking to raise money for their causes. It's rare that you see a call to sign a petition etc. that is not automatically asking you for money, after you signed it. There is nothing inherently wrong with asking for money, because there are cost involved with saving the oceans. With some groups however, making money seems to be the main purpose, regardless of who, or what they hurt in the process. Take the following example.

In 2010 the "Ady Gil", a small vessel operated by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society  collided with the Japanese whaling ship "Shonan Maru 2" and sank some time later. "SSCS" has always claimed that the collision damage inflicted on the "Ady Gil" is what caused her to sink and maintained that the Japanese intentionally rammed their vessel.

There is video evidence that the collision itself was actually caused by the captain of the "Ady Gil", by accelerating into the path of the "Shonan Maru 2" at the last moment. In this video, you can see that the "Ady Gil" is stopped in the water and a little before the collision there is whitewater behind the vessel, a sign that it engaged the props and accelerated forward, right into the path of the Japanese ship. 

This video has led some people to accuse SCCS of intentionally causing this accident to create publicity for their "Whale Wars" TV show and to raise money from their supporters. I'm not accusing the captain of the "Ady Gil" of trying to intentionally ram the Japanese ship. While I think it's more likely that he wanted to cut right in front of it to get some dramatic TV footage and simply miscalculated, the claim that SSCS created this whole event gained some credibility, when in the aftermath of the sinking, Pete Bethune, the captain of the "Ady Gil" came out and stated that he deliberately sank the vessel on the orders of Paul Watson.

Sea Shepherd maintained that the "Ady Gil" sank because of the damage it sustained during the collision and that they made every effort to save it.  In reply to Bethune's admission, the SSCS released this statement by Watson. In part it read: "So why has Bethune decided to make such an accusation to the media and the public that I ordered him to sink the Ady Gil?

The answer is obvious. I fired him the day before for providing false statements to the Japanese police. He then threatened to make this allegation against me if I did not reinstate him. I refused. In fact, I sent Bethune’s threats to the media before he released them."

After hearing Bethune's confession, Ady Gil, a person who donated 1 Million $ to the SSCS and who the boat was named after, ended up suing them for the loss of the vessel. After years of back and forth, last September, the arbitrator in this case issued finally issued a ruling that now became public.

The ruling includes a scathing assessment of Paul Watson: "The Arbitrator found Mr. Watson’s testimony regarding certain events to be highly evasive, internally contradictory, or at odds with his own prior written statements, and in certain areas simply lacking the basic indicia of genuineness that instinctively inspires confidence and trust"

So now we know that Paul Watson ordered the deliberate sinking of the "Ady Gil"

A couple of days ago, Chuck Swift, former captain of the Sea Shepherd vessel "Bob Barker" also came out and admitted publicly that the "Ady Gil" was intentionally sunk and issued a public apology on Facebook, for his role in it. 

YES. I, along with Pete Bethune and Luke VanHorn, did board the vessel Ady Gil and intentionally scuttled it. We sank the vessel Ady Gil and lied to everyone inside and outside of SSCS to cover that truth. You can read his entire statement here

Why was it so important to Paul Watson to sink the "Ady Gil"? Before acceding to Mr. Watson’s demands, (to deliberately scuttle the vessel) Mr. Swift recalls that he asked Mr. Watson, “Why is this so important to you?”, and Mr. Watson responded, “Our audience needs closure.”  I guess this illustrates  where Paul Watson's priorities are. Entertaining his audience is more important than what he claims to care about. Of course Watson had no qualms about the fact that the "closure" he provided to his TV audience was a blatant lie and he didn't hesitate to use that lie to raise money.  

From the ruling: Of course, whatever the rationale for deceiving the viewing public (which might be presumed to understand that “reality shows” do not actually reflect reality)  

Here are some excerpts from the arbitrators ruling, that offer insight into the reasons the SSCS wanted to scuttle the "Ady Gil" and how "real" "whale wars" really is.

the evidence suggests that the Ady Gil was unlikely to sink for any appreciable period of time, notwithstanding the damage she incurred from the collision with the Japanese fleet  

the crew’s thinking
(to scuttle to Ady Gil) seems to have been directly influenced by the presence of the Animal Planet film crew, which gave SSCS unparalleled public exposure and greatly expanded its fundraising possibilities.  
Certainly, a plodding tow operation to deliver a damaged vessel to shore would not have made for interesting television viewing 

By contrast, the collision of the Shonan Maru #2 with the Ady Gil already had captured unparalleled media attention, with Mr. Watson giving interviews from the Steve Irwin and Pete Bethune taking non-stop media calls on board the Bob Barker. The crew was acutely aware that the sinking of the Ady Gil would create the occasion for more dramatic reality television  


Indeed, Mr. Swift testifies that “during our discussions/arguments leading up to my capitulation to Paul’s order to sink the Ady Gil, he was telling me ... ‘Oh, the media on this would be great.’” 



Paul’s a genius, and he’s a media genius especially. And sometimes he’s open-minded, and sometimes, he’s not. And, when he sets his mind on something he’s like a pit bull getting lock jaw, and I was unable to change his mind, which is why I eventually executed his orders 


As for the scene in "Whale Wars", where Bethune and Swift discussed abandoning the ship: The decision to stage this scene for the cameras was the result of discussions between Mr. Bethune and Mr. Swift, in the presence of the Animal Planet crew: they said we need to just create the scene that makes it look like you were making the decision to abandon the boat. And I knew from Whale War’s perspective, ... the decision to abandon a boat by the captain is a pretty powerful scene. I went along with it
The arbitrator offered this thought. Of course, whatever the rationale for deceiving the viewing public (which might be presumed to understand that “reality shows” do not actually reflect reality), there was no legal or moral justification for deceiving Claimants, the owners of the Ady Gil.

So we know that SSCS and Paul Watson have no problem deceiving their supporters and the viewers of "Whale Wars" who think that the series is an actual documentary. What is interesting to find out is that they equally have no problem with throwing their own employees, donors and volunteers under the bus, blaming them for their own actions.

There are many great organizations working to save the oceans and it's inhabitant and I encourage to support them. Just check them out carefully before you choose which one you want to support. 

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, January 18, 2016

Sharks in a pool?

After the movie "Jaws" came out in 1975, a lot of people were afraid to even enter a pool or a bathtub. Who knew that one could actually find a shark in a pool?

Check out this story. A shark found in a swimming pool! According to an article in Florida's "Sun Sentinel" Nicole Bonk found a 5 foot blacktip shark in a pool.  

Blacktip shark ©Martin Graf

 "Nicole Bonk was visiting friends at the Mariner's Cay condo the week before last when she saw two boys carrying the five-foot blacktip shark, with hooks in its mouth, and dump it into the pool at around 11 p.m."

She and her husband pulled the shark out and carried it to the Intracoastal Waterway, where her husband held the shark by the tail in the water so it could try to flush out the chlorinated pool water. Then they released it.

"We tried to revive him but he mostly likely did not live," she said. "He was barely moving after the trauma. We did our best to try to save this creature."

It's really disturbing that these kids had so little regard for a living creature. I'm glad that Nicole Bonk and her husband tried to save the shark and hope that it survived. 

This story shows that human beings are both capable of cruelty and compassion. I'm glad that the "Sun Sentinel" focused it's article on those issues and not on trying to scare people into thinking they have to be afraid to enter a pool.

I hope that they find the kids who did this and teach them that this is not acceptable behavior.

She reported the incident to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but no officers arrived until the following morning.

"These two kids, they came back from fishing and threw this half-dead creature into the pool as a prank," she said. "They left the shark in the pool to die. I think they're terrible children because it's animal cruelty."

The wildlife commission is investigating the incident and attempting to find evidence from video security cameras around the pool.
 
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.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Conservation shark diving in Fiji

This is the 4th year Shark Diver is going to Fiji to dive with Bull Sharks at Beqa Shark Reef Marine Reserve. In the last 3 years, we have been diving with more than 70 Bull Sharks at a time, with Black Tip-, White Tip-, Grey Reef-, Nurse- and Lemon-Sharks also being seen on almost every dive. Occasionally we even got a visit from a Tiger Shark.


While I love "my" Great White Sharks, I have to say that it is hard to beat the excitement of what Ron and Valery Taylor called "The best shark dive in the world".


Our partner in Fiji is Beqa Adventure Divers "BAD". BAD is truly an exceptionally GOOD dive operation who was instrumental in creating the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, which is now officially a national marine park and fully protected.

Celebration - BAD Cut from Beqa Adventure Divers on Vimeo.

BAD is so good that the government of Fiji has designated them to be the official caretakers of the park, with their staff being the designated fish wardens, empowered to enforce the rules of the park.


BAD is also a carbon neutral operation that supports the Mangroves for Fiji, a vital project that not only helps to offset carbon emissions, but also provides a crucial habitat for many marine creatures, including sharks.


BAD describes itself as "a conservation project masquerading as a dive shop" and they really mean it. They are a prime example for how conservation and business can not only coexist, but actually be mutually beneficial. One of the ways they make sure that the project works is by not only paying a levy to the fishing villages in exchange for them to not fish at the reef, but also by hiring their staff from those villages to provide an alternative income to the villagers. All the dive staff at BAD is from those local fishing villages. To see how the project works, click here.


Shark Diver is diving in Fiji from May 8 - 29. A 7 day stay (5 days of shark diving), is starting at $1800 p/p double occupancy. The price includes 7 nights accommodation in a 4 star hotel, with a breakfast buffet edaily, 5 days of 2 tank shark diving and rt. airport transportation from Nadi airport. We can customize your dates and length of stay and also add some dives in the soft coral capital of the world. Cost of airfare from LA to Fiji varies from $1000 to about $1300, depending on day of departure.

We can also book your shark dive with "BAD" anytime of the year, with or without a hotel. Call us at 619.887.4275 or email staff@sharkdiver.com for more info, or to book.


Let's go shark diving!

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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Support shark conservation at Guadalupe Island

With the holidays fast approaching, what are you going to give the person who has everything? Here is an idea. Sponsor, or name a shark at Guadalupe Island and support the research and conservation efforts there.

The Marine Conservation Science Institute is not only maintaining a photo ID database at Guadalupe, but also does extensive research into the migration behavior of "our" Great White Sharks. By naming, or sponsoring a shark, you are helping to keep the research going.

Let me introduce #153 from our database. He's an awesome shark and I hope that you agree that #153 is not a good name for this guy. I'm sure you can come up with something better.


To name or sponsor this awesome individual, visit http://www.marinecsi.org/donations/. All the proceeds go to the research and your donation is fully tax deductible.
 

If you are the one that ends up naming this shark,  Shark Diver will give you a print of either one of these pictures, so you can show your friends the shark you named.

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, December 3, 2015

Science Expedition to Guadalupe Island

I booked the trip to Isla Guadalupe (Guadalupe Island) with Shark Diver of San Diego to fulfill a long held desire – since reading Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s “The Shark” and meeting his son in San Diego when I was a boy. And, in every way possible, this trip exceeded my expectations owing to the efforts of an outstanding Shark Diver team (particularly Martin Graf and Cindy Michaels), the Guest Marine Researcher Nicole Nasby Lucas, a fantastic Horizon crew, and great group of fellow shark divers. This is a must do in my opinion for anyone with a passion, interest or bucket list item relating to Great White Sharks – it’s fun, safe and amazing. Many details follow.

The Main Event:
I don’t want to bury the lead, so I’ll get right to our guests of honor. The Great White Sharks are impressive, majestic, and beautiful. They move by the twin cages, quite closely, at a stately pace, and look at the folks in the cage with large deep blue eyes; and, they appear utterly calm and in command. They make passes at the two bait carcasses off the stern, sometimes lazily and on occasion quite quickly. We were fortunate enough to witness a breach on one occasion – a male, who had previously made half-hearted passes at the bait, disappeared, the emerged from deep below the boat, under the cages, at speed, and hit the bait vertically from below, taking himself halfway out of the water – to the astonishment, screams and overwhelming joy of everyone aboard.


The visibility, typically, is very good at Isla Guadalupe, so the sun penetrates deep into the water and the boat casts a long shadow into the depths. Often our first sightings each time into the cage(s) were of the dark silhouette emerging from the shadow cast by the boat, coming up slowly from below and then circling the cages, bait and boat for some time before silently disappearing into the shadows again. Though each of us kept eyes peeled in all directions, it was amazing how frequently we were taken by surprise by a shark suddenly appearing. On deck, between dives, the crew is very experienced and keen eyed; and, they will call out “White Shark” as they approach, usually well before any guests see them. From above or below it is mesmerizing, and difficult to turn away.


Isla Guadalupe:
There are a few places worldwide to see Great White Sharks with predictability. Both South Africa and the Farallon Islands offer this opportunity; but, both have limited underwater visibility and challenging water temperatures. Isla Guadalupe has better water clarity, 100 foot visibility, and weather, and very few (we saw only three other) boats, some distance away. Unlike other locations, Isla Guadalupe will not force you to deal with cold and murky water, crowded boats and cages, quick “in and out” quick thrill experiences, etc. You will have days on the dive site, in relatively warm and very clear water, and good weather.

#153 he needs a name! You can name him by clicking here
Isla Guadalupe is a designated Bio Sphere, a marine sanctuary. It sits about 200 miles southwest of San Diego. It is made up of volcanic remnants and has a stark beauty, with tall, steep cliffs diving hundreds of feet down to sea. There are large populations of, and rookeries for, elephant seals, sea lions – all of which you are very likely to see, with approaches to boat on occasion.

Timing:
Typically, though as Martin notes there are no hard and fast rules with White Sharks, they tell us the males will show up in earlier months – e.g., July, August, and September – and in greater numbers. And the typically October and November are when they have female sightings – the females being fewer but much larger than the males. Also, typically, the wetter weather comes later in the year, with the Pacific hurricane / wet season; but, this too is not always the case.

The Drive Out:
It is a long trip out to, and back from Isla Guadalupe from / to San Diego. It was some eight hours from San Diego to Ensenada Mexico, where we docked to have passports checked, and then a long 18 +/- hours to Isla Guadalupe. Note that the return trip is the same itinerary, in reverse, with a stop in Ensenada before entering U.S. waters. Along the way out to Guadalupe, a large pod of dolphins escorted us. The sea can often be a bit rough to quite rough, with good swells causing a fair bit of roll onboard. Owing to timing, much of the initial leg is spent hanging out in main cabin getting to know fellow divers, with folks eventually heading to their beds – sleep and good anti motion sickness remedies work well. Most folks used some combination of ear patch and oral medication. It’s a long drive, so be smart and just bring your meds.



The Boat:
You won’t “Need bigger boat”  The MV Horizon the Horizon is roughly 80 feet long with 8 state rooms and several bunks. There are two restrooms and showers that are shared by all. The accommodations (two persons to a room with curtain for privacy and in bunks) are not lux, but they are nice, and you won’t care anyway  The Horizon is used only as diving vessel; and that's all season long. They determine who bunks together once everyone arrives in San Diego, based on number of couples, individual travelers, etc. The sleeping quarters are below,, and the main cabin contains the galley and a series of booths along each side used for dining and spending time together with travelers in route or between dives. Net / net, this is a large and comfortable boat.


The Cages:
There are two, kept on deck astern for the trip and each night when diving is completed. For each day's diving, each is suspended off, but affixed to, the stern at the surface (that is, they do not sink below) – so you simply climb down a ladder and into the cage (easy); and each easily holds four divers. One cage is aft port, one aft starboard. You will alternate each dive, so that everyone has plenty of time in each cage.


 The Dives:
The divers are assigned to two teams. Each team dives for an hour, and then rests and re-hydrates for an hour while the alternate team dives. Each team has four people in each cage, and the team alternates cages each time, so everyone gets to try both cages and gets plenty of dive time and rest. There were a couple days of early open diving as well – starting just after sunrise – during which anyone who preferred could climb into either cage.


The crew will size you for suits, equipment, weights, and Martin himself oriented each of us to breathing via air hose and made sure we comfortable before we stepped fully down into the cage.
Safety is primary and at no point was anything but utterly assured all was well and well in control. No divers are ever permitted out of the cages – for the sake of the sharks, the marine preserve, as well as the divers. You are completely safe at all times. There were folks of all ages, bith genders, and widely varying experience levels. Past trips have included folks in their 60’s and 70’s, and quite young divers as well. The always amazing Cindy at Shark Diver can advise on particulars.

Breathing with the hookah system is easy – no metal tanks to strap on, simply a long hose that goes from on deck tank system to each diver’s regulator (mouthpiece through which you breathe). So, if you’ve ever snorkeled and used a mask, you’ll be just fine. The cages are beyond sturdy, offer complete visibility around, above and below, and are plenty large enough for each set of divers.



The Purpose:
In addition to the opportunity provided to guests to see these amazing creatures, each shark observed is photographed (Martin, Nicole and the divers get to participate in this) and compared to a database of previously observed sharks. New sharks are named and tracked in the database each successive year. This is a joint effort between the Marine Conservation Science Institute (MCSI) and Shark Diver. 

#172 Freya a shark that was newly named this season.

Newly identified sharks on a particular dive are named by the people on the dive in a bidding process (proceeds of which go to the MCSI and shark research effort). On a side note, I was fortunate enough from a 2014 dive with Shark Diver to name one – Hooper (after the Richard Dreyfuss oceanographer character in Jaws) – great fun and a great way to support the cause.

# 159 Hooper
Isla Guadalupe is home to a marine preserve and a research station manned by a researcher named Mauricio – who will visit the Horizon and give an excellent presentation with Martin on Great White Sharks and the Isla Guadalupe Bio Sphere.

The Shark Diver Team:
Martin Graf, the CEO and dive leader, teacher, host is a deeply experienced and great guy. He is hands on, overseeing everything on the dives. He also gives talks and a presentation to the divers on Isla Guadalupe, Great White Sharks, and many experiences with both. If Nicole Nasby Lucas (again, researcher from MCSI) is leading Science Expedition, she, too, will give a fine presentation, talk. Both Martin and Nicole worked each evening on identified sharks seen from photographs taken during the day. All the reservations, logistics, arrangements, and care taking of the divers before and after is led by the excellent and omnipresent Cindy Michaels, their Director of Communications – Cindy was a rock star and took care of every question and need leading up to the trip.

The Horizon Crew:
In a word, excellent. Experienced captain, crew – professional, easy going, genuinely friendly, and they take care of anything you might need. I cannot say enough good things about the crew of the Horizon.

The Food:
As noted elsewhere, the food is outstanding. The quality and quantity of the meals is positively surprising and uniformly excellent. There is also beer and wine aboard. There are large and delicious breakfasts every morning cooked to order, excellent lunches (including Sashimi), and absolutely fantastic dinners, including prime rib near end of stay. The galley will account for you preferences and restrictions with no problem.

Thank you David Moore! We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us and our future divers. We are glad you enjoyed your expedition and hope to see you again on another shark trip.

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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Do sharks get cancer?

One of the reasons millions of sharks get killed each year is the popular belief  that sharks don't get tumors, or cancer. That, along with the demand for shark fins, are the major reasons sharks get slaughtered. The belief that sharks don't get cancer has led to a big demand for their cartilage, which is supposed to prevent, or cure cancer. Now I'm not a scientist, but it seems to me, that even if sharks were immune to cancer, eating their cartilage would not make me immune to it as well, just like eating a fish doesn't give me the ability to breathe underwater.

But are sharks really immune to tumors or cancer? Well, since I'm not a scientist, I'm not sure about the cancer part, but I can definitively say that sharks do get tumors. Take "Meli" for example. He's a great white shark who regularly visits Guadalupe Island. Last year we first spotted him with a big growth on his left side and it is still there a year later. These pictures were taken just a couple of weeks ago and show his big tumor.




So, if you are taking shark cartilage supplements to prevent cancer, you might want to save your money and in the process, you just might save a shark.

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, November 23, 2015

Island Of The White Sharks

Do you want to know what it is like to come to Guadalupe Island and meet the Great White Sharks? Read the following trip report and look at the pictures from John Gunn and Katrien De Maertelaere who joined us at Guadalupe Island back in August.  

Island Of The White Sharks
As we boarded Horizon, the 80 foot long dive boat that would be our home for the next week, we had no idea of the adventures that lay ahead. Fulfilling a life long dream to dive with Great White Sharks, I was about to embark on a trip out to Guadalupe Island in Mexico. A rocky desolate island 150 miles west of Baja California, which is now recognized as the best place to dive with these wonderful creatures in crystal clear waters. Having recently spent time out at the Farallon Islands (The west coast’s other hub of Great White activity) I couldn’t wait to experience the magic of Guadalupe.

Shark Diver (www.sharkdiver.com) were our hosts and the crew of the Horizon greeted us warmly as we strolled past the monstrous steel shark cages out on deck and settled into our cosy sleeping quarters. The trip out to Guadalupe isn’t for the light hearted, a 36 hour trek in decent swells (and apparently we had it calm!) but the Horizon was a wonderful vessel and once we’d past through immigration in Ensenada, Mexico we were out in the open ocean, heading due west over some of the richest and biologically diverse stretches of water in the world. Within a couple of hours of leaving the Mexican mainland we were accompanied by a large group of Pilot Whales, who stayed with us for over an hour, breaching out of the water just a few feet from the boat. It was a wonderful start to what we were all hoping would be the adventure of a lifetime. 
 

After a bumpy couple of nights sleep, we awoke on the second morning to the sounds of clucking steel and rushed up on deck. The cages were slowly being lowered into the water, overshadowed by the towering, volcanic rock face of Guadalupe Island. It was quite a sight and it felt only right that one of the world’s largest congregations of Great White Sharks had chosen this alien rocky outpost as their hunting ground. After a quick but delicious cooked breakfast (the food on the entire trip was divine!) and an introduction to the cage rotations (we’d be tag teaming one hour in and one hour out of the cage for the next 2 days!) it was time to gear up and get diving!


I was part of the first rotation and with the bate lines floating next to the cages and chum being poured over the side of the boat, we anxiously waited for our first glimpse of the world’s oldest apex predator! The hour ticked by without an appearance and the next team of divers jumped in to try their luck. Within minutes we were startled by the soon to be familiar shout, ‘WHITE SHARK!’ as a huge dark shadow gracefully glided past the boat. I could only imagine the sight from below the surface.


There had been no need to panic! Our second dive of the day turned out to be one of the best dives of the entire trip. We were treated to 3 White Sharks, circling the cages for the full hour. The opportunity to see these animals up close in clear water was truly special. They’re both graceful and terrifying at the same time. A monster from your nightmares, that you can’t take your eyes off. The 14 foot sharks glided inches from the cage, ominously disappearing into the blue, before somehow re-appearing moments later from the completely opposite direction. While at first glance their eyes are black and sinister, a closer look reveals a soft light blue interior that focused in on the divers as the shark glides past. These guys were definitely checking us out!



As rotations merged into each other, the action never stopped and as we experienced more sharks, we were privileged to witness an array of different personalities that each gave a unique interaction. Shark Diver keep a log of all the White Sharks they encounter and name them, as a way of keeping track. Over time, we learned who was who; ‘Legend’ was a mid- sized feisty shark that would charge and breach for the bait, giving the topside divers and crew quite a show. ‘Johnny’ was a more relaxed but larger and proud shark and every now and then we’d be lucky enough to look down into the depths and see the infamous ‘Bruce’, a monstrous male White Shark circling below. 



From the surface, the water was so clear it was like watching the sharks swimming in a pool and from below, the 100+ foot visibility offered photo opportunities I’m yet to encounter anywhere in the world. On our last night we were treated to a fantastic presentation from a couple of local researchers (the only inhabitants on the island, with the exception of a small fishing community) from Pelagios Kakunja Marine Conservation, educating us on the vital science and research currently being done to understand more about the Guadalupe ecosystem and the best ways to protect it in the future. As well as the informative talk, the two researchers showed us a ‘deep sea monster’ that they’d found floating on the surface, a bizarre bottom dwelling creature that we figured out probably belonged to the ‘Frog Fish’ family. 


Finally, we were treated to up close GoPro footage of a recent Great White predication on an Elephant Seal at the island (only the third time such an attack had been caught on camera), before we all slunked down to our cabins beneath the waves and looked forward to the final morning of diving before our departure back to the mainland.


The final morning didn’t disappoint, as we were continuously circled by a large male shark called ‘Biteface’. At nearly 16 feet in length, he dwarfed the cage as he glided inches from the steel cage and our busy cameras! After lunch the cages were hoisted back onto the Horizon and we set pace at a steady 10 knots, back to San Diego. Within a few hours, just as the sun was setting, we were accompanied by a stunning group of breaching Dolphins, giving the entire group a great opportunity to reflect on this wonderfully rich and wild stretch of ocean and the trip of a lifetime.


Will I be returning to Guadalupe? Most certainly, but probably not before my passion for Sharks and underwater photography takes me to the Tiger Sharks of the Bahamas and the resident Bulls Sharks of Fiji. Take a bow Shark Diver, you well and truly delivered!

Thank you John and Katrien for coming out with us and writing this great report! It was a pleasure having you on board and we enjoyed introducing you to our "friends" at Guadalupe Island. We are looking forward to taking you to the Bahamas and Fiji for your next shark diving adventure!

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.