Guadalupe Island Shark Trip! AKA "Here, Sharkie, Sharkie!"

Sept 28 - rode down to Ensenada in a 12 passenger van - left SD at 8:45 and arrived at the Sea Watch about 10:30.
Cap'n Chris Wade had more trouble getting the permits than expected, and our departure time was delayed 5 hours.  Apparently, the officials made him pay an extra $2400 for our permits, then when the one official finally showed up at the boat to release us, he had to pay another $600!

We filled the gas tank at 7:15pm - the gas station stayed open late for us the gas up.  Jose was the nice guy who helped us at the dock.  The Cap'n wanted to top off, but we were only allowed 500 gallons - hope that gets us back home!

Other divers:  Matt Millikin, Dorothy Canlas, Amanda, Morgan Ball (a marine biologist), Ben, Stephanie, Tim  and from Hawaii - Don, Juan, Kimi and Ocean
Crew - Cap'n Chris Wade, Elise, Jonathan, John, Joshua 

We arrived at the island on Sat Sept 29th around 8pm.  Very dark out, but I can see that we are in a protected little Harbor.  There is one other dive boat here, also.  I can hear the seal lions on the shore.  The water seems glassy smooth.

I'm going to bed soon - everyone else is still up partying (it's almost midnight)

Can't wait to see the white sharks tmrw!

Sept 29 - Cap'n put the cages in the water and by 9:00, the first 4 divers were in.  We had one cage at the surface and one at 35'. Didn't use the surface one until the very end of the day as it was getting dark.

My time to go for our 40 minute dive in was 10am.  Dorothy and Ben were my buddies, and Josh was our safety diver, holding the stick in case a shark got too close to us.  We wore all our scuba gear. I used my dry suit. The fins seemed like overkill.  We weighted ourselves down an extra 10 pounds, but I was still jostled around in the cage as the tiny swells moved around the bay.  

We were not disappointed, as the first group had been.  I saw 2 different sharks, but Ben said he saw 3.  They were AMAZINGLY beautiful - graceful, powerful, just cruising by us!  I didn't have any fear, but definitely had a healthy respect for these apex predators!  

Our second dive occurred mid-afternoon.  All the others in my same group wanted to swim outside the cage.  I wasn't quite ready for that yet, so I stayed in, and enjoyed taking pictures.  Again, we were not disappointed, as at least 2 sharks stayed around us for awhile.  At one point a big one passed.  As Josh watched it go by I pointed out another one coming behind the first. Josh, already outside the cage, swam over to this young male, named #65 - Johnny, and actually grabbed onto the dorsal fin.  I got photographic evidence of the event, which only lasted a couple seconds.  The shark did not seem to be bothered by it at all!  

I decided I was done for the day. And spent the rest of the day helping Elise make dinner - I made my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe, and added bacon in.  It was really good!

Some divers, Morgan and Amanda, are back in the water now - it's 8:15pm.  

The people on board this boat are really nice.  I'm enjoying this experience!

It was a great day full of adventure!  Can't wait for more fun tomorrow.  Hopefully I'll be brave enough to get out of the cage!

Oct 1 - everyone is so excited right now!  We all got two dives in.  During the last 2 groups, while I was napping, of course, a huge shark - maybe 20' - came around the boat.  All the free divers jumped in and Kimi and Ocean actually held onto Bella's dorsal fin and got a short 5second ride.  They looked so graceful and beautiful in the video footage.

As for me, I was in the first group to dive with ABC (Amanda Brett Craft), Stephanie and Josh.  Today I wore my 7mm wetsuit w/ hood and gloves and stayed plenty warm.  We saw 2 sharks. During the second dive, we waited 40 minutes before a shark swam by - not very close, cruising at first, but then all of the sudden, he booked out - amazing to see the difference in speed and intent.

The wind picked up after the last set of dives - too much to keep the cages in the water.  So, Cap'n is moving the boat to re-anchor.  Not sure yet if we can get back in....but I would really like to.  I'm sweating in my wetsuit right now!

Oct 2nd - didn't make it back in the water yesterday....too windy.  But we had a very nice treat when Dr. Mauricio Hoyas came aboard to discuss with us his work with the sharks.  He has been the island's shark expert for several years, and he is attempting to extract DNA samples from the sharks as a way to identify them.  He is especially interested in learning where these sharks give birth.  He believes the answer is in the Sea of Cortez, but he needs to gather evidence.  Unfortunately, the other half of the evidence will be gathered from dead baby sharks that are being sold in fish markets.  He has an intern who goes to the fish markets, also taking biopsies.  By matching the DNA of the dead baby sharks with the DNA of biopsies from sharks at Guadalupe, he will be able to prove that Gaudalupe sharks give birth in the Sea of Cortez. Hopefully, the evidence will be strong enough to convince the Mexican gov't to put a ban on all shark killing.  Today we had a chance to watch Mauricio in action, coercing a large shark to come by his little boat (which was just about 100' from the Sea Watch) with some bait, then extracting the biopsy using a long pole.  He took two samples.

Mauricio also showed us a documentary filmed here on the island using a submersible.  The scientisists wanted to know how deep the sharks go - their submersible went to 300 meters, and sharks were seen that deep, along with other species that they were not expecting to see, mainly the Rat Fish.

It was a very interesting evening and a nice way to end a day of diving.  After he departed, we had a lobster dinner - compliments of some local fisherman who donated the tasty treat!  Then the party began - loud music, LOTS of drinking and fun for most.  I just watched.

Today's diving has been great, too.  I started out on the first shift with ABC and Don and Joshua.  Then I jumped in in an empty spot on the third shift with Dorothy and Elise.  By then, most of the sharks were swimming close to the surface, so the cage was kept there as well.  Chugey #21, male, with cut caudal (tail) fin graced us with his presence.   Sharks were seen on all of my three dives.  We leave tomorrow morning - the journey back to Ensenada is expected to take about 26hours.  We have to be at the dock by 3pm on Thursday, or fines will be given.  Cap'n is hoping to get us a dive in shallower water, just for fun.  He says it's like California diving, but on steroids!"