Isla Guadalupe Photos & Video
My Meeting With a Great
White Shark by Sheri Lewis
heart was beating like crazy and I had to remind myself, "I can
do this, just breathe". I lowered myself into the cage and once
I felt comfortable with my breathing, I started looking and turning
and looking. All of a sudden off in the deep blue I see something
coming straight up at me and I swear it's smiling. Cameras are
on, trying to focus, it's getting closer, closer, closer (things
in your camera appear much smaller than they really are). I look
over the top of my camera and HOLY #@!*! I have a shark in my
face and it's HUGE.
My mind was racing, is this thing going to turn or come straight
into this cage? Why am I having flashbacks of the movie JAWS?
I know I went to the bathroom before I got in this wetsuit, why
do I feel like I just drank two gallons of water? Instinct made
me instantly back away, but at the last second the shark turned
and glided right by my cage, eyeballed me and then swam quietly
and gracefully back into the deep blue. After coming to my senses
I looked over to the other diver in the cage, both of our eyes
as big as saucers. We gave each other slow, underwater "High Fives"
and did a little dance. I can't remember if I held my breath the
whole time or used up all my air, but it was quite an amazing
moment, one I will never forget.
The great white sharks were HUGE! My photos don't do justice
to how big they were. If a shark can be beautiful, then these
sharks were beautiful. They cruised so gracefully through the
water checking us out in the cages. They have a big black coal
of an eye from a distance, but when they swim by your cage at
arms length, that eye really is looking right at you.
My incredible great white shark diving adventure started in San
Diego, California. I met the rest of the eager dive group at the
Ramada Inn along Fisherman's Landing. We were greeted by a couple
of the Nautilus Explorer boat staff at the hotel and they assisted
us in getting boarded on the luxury bus and provided us with snacks
and beverages. It took us a little over two hours to get to Ensenada,
Mexico, where our boat was waiting. Some people slept, some read
and the rest of us got to know each other, so the time went quickly.
The owners and crew of the Nautilus Explorer were absolutely
wonderful and have thought of everything. They started off with
greeting us at the dock in Ensenada with Margaritas, carried our
luggage aboard and got us settled into our cabins for the 20 hour
trip to the dive sites at Isla Guadalupe. Each day without us
seeing them they made up our beds, cleaned our rooms and left
little chocolates on our pillows. The chef made amazing meals
each day and spoiled us with fresh baked cookies and treats. During
our diving days, as soon as we came up from diving the staff was
there on the back deck with a smile and a tray of drinks and snacks.
They even provided us with a little fire pit for a campfire so
we could roast marshmallows at night!!
We were all up at 6:30am each morning, eager to dive. We had
five cages to choose from, three across the back of the boat,
one on a boom off the side of the boat, which was the free floating,
360 view cage (my favorite) and then a 40ft submersible cage for
dive certified people only.
The staff put just a little chunk of tuna in the water and sharks
started showing up. It was truly amazing. From the upper decks
the water was clear enough that you could see the shark's fin
pop up to the surface and make passes by the bait. Soon as we
saw the first shark come in, everyone went scrambling to get their
wetsuits on. If you're a diver, you know doing this is not a quick
or easy task. You have to wiggle, squirm, push, pull, jump, it
just doesn't go on quickly and you feel like you've done an hour
workout before even diving!
We had three days of diving with these beautiful sharks aboard
the Nautilus Explorer, with sun on our shoulders and the Guadalupe
Islands as our backdrop. We saw all male sharks with the largest
ones probably being 16 feet long and very wide. The bigger females
come later in the season. We were in and out of the five cages
from 6:30am to 6pm each day. We only took breaks from diving for
breakfast and lunch, short basks in the sun, quick warm-ups in
the hot tub, a quick nap or to share photos of our shark encounters.
All of us divers and the crew became one big family during this
trip. We ate all our meals together, shared stories, looked at
each others photos with lots of "ooooohs and ahhhhhs". We all
got to know each other at night sitting in the lounge or sitting
on the upper deck under all the stars. It's a pretty neat feeling
being "Off the Grid" and sharing in such a unique experience with
perfect strangers, but feeling like you were family.
On the final evening of our trip, we got very quiet, nobody really
said anything, but I think we all felt the same sadness. Nobody
really wanted to leave. We had nothing else on our minds for five
days, no work, no phones, no TV, no internet, no worries, nothing
but those beautiful, graceful great white sharks. We were totally
wrapped up in the sharks and feeling like we were part of their
Somehow these massive animals have managed to survive unchanged
for thousands of years and we need to make sure they are protected
and are able to feed and reproduce. It takes a female great white
shark 15 years to get to sexual maturity and typically they only
have one offspring that survives. The moment they are born, it's
a constant battle with nature and even harder when they are allowed
to be hunted and killed for their fins and jaws.
I've been offering this dive trip to my adventurous clients
for six years. They have always come back with amazing photos
and shared wonderful stories with me about their trip and just
said "You HAVE to do this trip to understand how incredible it
is". I finally got my opportunity and my trip was absolutely amazing.
I now understand their enthusiasm and telling me "you just HAVE
to do it!"
Time stands still when you see a shark of this size moving effortlessly
and gracefully through the clear blue water with sunlight dancing
and sparkling across it's back. They seem so docile and peaceful,
yet we know how powerful they are. I found a new respect for them
during this trip and feel so very fortunate to be one of the few
that has seen great white sharks and shared the ocean with them.
Video from Isla Guadalupe
by Sheri Lewis
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