great white shark guadalupe island

Written by Shawn Mahoney

It was six months to the day that I went to the UNESCO site Revillagigedo, known as Socorro, with Nautilus Liveaboards. Once again I found myself aboard the Belle Amie. Location this time? Guadalupe Island. Mission? Show the true nature of the peaceful, graceful and surprisingly timid great white shark.

All were picked up in San Diego and bussed two hours to Ensenada, Mexico. I was thrilled to disembark and immediately see some of my favorite Nautilus crew, Damian, Laurentina, and Captain Gordon. As I boarded, the fond memories and the scent of Socorro remained, jogging the memory of a recent conversation with legendary IMAX filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall about Socorro. “A lot less sharks,” Howard commented without hesitation, referencing their first visit back in 15-years recently.

After 18-hours at sea, we arrived to Guadalupe at sunset, a time at which the island has an unmistakable Jurassic feel. Surface cages opened at 6AM, submersibles at 8AM. The water was 70°F/21°C. I was warm as could be though because I had literally the best-kept secret wetsuit by HECS Aquatics, featuring technology that traps your electrical signals, allowing freedivers to get much closer to marine life. For scuba, the result is a 5mm wetsuit warmer than any 7mm because the inside is all rubber, effectively making it semi-dry.

The first and third days of diving were quite good. But day two is something I will just never forget. Non-stop action, three sharks in one shot at one point, five camera angles, it was epic. Kyle and Heidi Ingram were the absolute best cage mates. I was armed with 8 cameras featuring my Nauticam setup and my new Paralenz, specifically engineered for divers. I accidentally beat up my Nauticam SmallHD monitor housing due to the cage bar vertical spacing but the folks at Backscatter will have me back in action quickly.

Photo: Kyle Ingram
Photo: Kyle Ingram

We were all left in awe of this magnificent animal. Many arrived fearing it, but almost all left saying they’d have no fear diving without a cage. This was my mission, to remove the fear of the animal. The re-installation of an empathetic society is vital for it’s survival. We depend on it, and so do our finned friends. Special thanks to Kyle Ingram, Mark Mueller, and Max Mueller for contributing footage.

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guadalupe island