Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Guadalupe Island Trip #4 - The females are arriving early this season!

Hola everyone! Let's go find some whities!
August 19, 2014.  Our departure for trip #4 to dive with great whites departed on time! As usual, we keep our eyes open for anything exciting during our crossing.  We've seen blue whales on our first three trips out to Isla Guadalupe so far this season, on this crossing we ran into two pods of white belly dolphins along the way! Captain Gerardo did a maneuver to get our guests a closer look, and the playful dolphins went from cruise control to high speed mode, were surfing our waves, doing high jumps, and playing in our wake! There were roughly 200 dolphins in this playful pod, and while we were doing our general boat briefing two blue whales surfaced to get some right by the boat!  After all the excitement between the whales and dolphins died down, we had a calm crossing, with a beautiful sunset to end the day!  While having dinner, Captain Gerardo spotted blue whales once again, this time four of them that spent around 20 minutes with us!  They were difficult to see in the darkness, but we could hear their spout blow from their massive lungs! 
Our first day of diving and the water was so calm and blue, it was almost enticing to go for a swim, but we know better! The first great white arrived around 9:30, just over an hour after the cages hit the water.  It was a very hungry male, who took our bait several times, each time using a different tactic to get it successfully!  It came at full speed from under the surface cages, from behind where we couldn't see it, rolling on its side, doing breaches all in an effort to get the bait!  It put on quite the show!  After a short time, a second shark showed up, and now they took turns going after the bait.  In this blue water we have great visibility of well over 100' and can see the sharks approaching from afar!  With all the action around the surface cages, we've also got the submersible cage going up and down all day long! We had 4 white sharks circling so close, making slow passes around this cage repeatedly.  One thing we noticed is they like to hide under the Solmar V when they are swimming at depth near the submersible, before keeping our shark wranglers busy at the surface when they approach the cages!  There were three sharks around the surface cages before the dominant male comes in, his name is "Bite Face" aka "Crazy Luis".  At 16:30 exactly, the submersible cage is down around 30', when suddenly we see a shark explode vertically towards the surface from 35' and ended up doing a full body breach out of the water!  Who had a camera ready to  capture this awesome action?! No one! Those that saw it though, will have a memory they will never forget!  Once our divers got out of the water, the first thing they said needs to be censored, but they followed it up with did you see that?!?!  We ended our day with 2 other sharks very actively circling our surface cages, and put on a great show until sunset!  For dinner, we had a Mexican BBQ on the bow of the Solmar V, set to a beautifully colorful sunset with a pod of dolphins slapping the surface of the water just feet from the bow!

The action started early on our 2nd day of diving!  At 6:40 we hear the call that ushers in excitement aboard the boat, "Shark!! Shark!!"  We've got a beautiful sunrise happening and the sharks are ready for us to get in the water!  Once our divers get in the water there were 3 hungry sharks waiting for us circling below the cages!  These massive sharks launched their bodies partially out of the water trying to get the bait, and let us see those big white and sharp serrated teeth, others came at the bait with their mouths wide open just beneath the surface trying to get the food.  By 9:30 we had another full body breach, less than 25' from the boat!  The funny thing is, the guest that witnessed the breach from yesterday in the submersible cage, got to see a similar breach from a top down perspective.  The submersible cage was going up and down all day, with 4 sharks around the cage all day long, and one BIG female came into the area that was very curious about our cages.  On the surface, the curiosity turned into velocity in an effort to get the bait on several occasions.  She also made several very close passes by both the submersible and surface cages, so close that you see every wrinkle of its body!  Dolphins also wanted some attention, they stopped by to say hello around lunch time, passing right by our cages.  Towards the end of the day, the action picked up, but as the sun went down so did our visibility, those on the surface or watching from the sundeck witnessed another 3/4 of body breach out of the water, around 120' from the Solmar V!  Water temp on the surface was 73F dipping down to 71F in the submersible, with shark action all day long!   

Our last day of this trip started off early once again!  We had the first shark in front of the cages before 7:00 am, and not a cloud in the sky, perfect for getting a little sun from the sundeck during a surface interval, but don't forget your sun screen!  Before we knew it, sharks were arriving from different directions and once again the submersible cage was busy busy busy!  All day from 8:00 to 15:00 we had adult and juvenile sharks in the area, from the submersible cage it seemed like you were in a fish tank, beneath the boat we had scads moving in all directions, yellow tail jacks, schooling yellow fin tunas, wahoos, calico bass coming up fro the deep water, all in the small area just below the Solmar V!  The shark action continued big time both from the submersible and around the surface cages, so many pictures were taken for personal joy, as well as some that could qualify for our famous Solmar V photo contest!  We literally jumped up from our seats when we saw a big female approaching the submersible cage from the East!  Her name is "Lucy" a 15' long female distinguishable not only by her size, but by an injury to the upper lobe of her tailfin,  she was a regular last season and we were very excited to see a familiar face!  She manages to make her way from Guadalupe Island to the great white cafe in the mid pacific to meet with other sharks then comes back to Guadalupe Island!  Bravo Lucy!  With her disability it's amazing to see her push her massive body out of the water to get the bait, I think she is missing a lot of power because of her broken tail, but she's a very fast swimmer!  Imagine what she could do with her tail in tact!  In my opinion she was the highlight of our day, she gave the photographers many opportunities for big open mouth photos on the surface, whole body shots due to her relaxing demeanor around the cages, and she was very curious about the submersible cages every time we stopped at 15', she did full tight circles around us, she is a charming girl!  She went back and forth from stern to bow over and over with males chasing her!  That's the 2nd female we've seen thus far, the females are arriving early this season! YEEAAAHH!!

Solmar V Dive Instructor
Daniel Zapata  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Isla Guadalupe Trip #3!

The time flies by so fast! We’re already done with the third trip of the Guadalupe Great White Shark Season 2014 and here is the Trip Report!
The first day of the trip, we left with amazingly good weather, we had a nice smooth crossing ahead of us! As soon as we left Ensenada bay, we en countered several blue whales that were probably feeding in the area. We stopped by to check them out and fill our camera cards with some great photos! The whales were giving us a good show, however we had to leave them and continue our trek to Guadalupe Island!
We arrived early in the morning, and we had shark action about an hour after the cages opened for diving! The next four hour were non-stop action with 3 sharks around the cages the entire time, cruising back and forth trying to get the bait! Our shark wranglers did their best to not feed the curious sharks, but they got hammered by these active sharks! The submersible cage was incredible as always, we got to see a total of 10 different sharks that patrolled the boat around 40' deep. The water temperature at the surface is in the low 70's with well over 100' visibility! As always, our bow BBQ was a blast!
The sharks were kind of mellow at the surface on the second day of the trip, however the sub-cage was super busy with nearly 12 hours of non-stop action! The action was happening right at 40' where a thermocline that dipped the water temperature to 69F was keeping the sharks busy, at the end of the day we counted 8 total sharks, 4 of which hung out with us the day before! The third and final day at the island started with a beautiful sunrise and surface so sooth that we had the chance to get some amazing time lapse shots! After the sunrise, the sharks were entertained with the bait game for the rest of the day! We had less sharks on our 3rd day than on the previous two, but 3 of them gave us a good show through the afternoon! They kept us entertained until it was time to say goodbye to these majestic and misunderstood creatures that rule over the best place in the world for great white action with the best conditions! Stay tuned for the next Great White Shark Adventure with the Solmar V crew at Guadalupe Island!
Hasta La Vista amigos!
Erick Higuera

Solmar V Dive Instuctor

Friday, August 15, 2014

Trip #2 to Isla Guadalupe!

Guadalupe trip report,
This was the second trip of the season, with three excellent days of diving at the island! We arrived to Isla Guadalupe around 8:45 on Sunday, and we had the first group of divers into the surface cages by 10:00 am. We had fourteen certified divers on this trip, all of which were excited about getting a look from below in the submersible cages. The morning started off with a pair of great whites swimming in the area, and in the afternoon things started to pick up! We had much more great white action around the cages, with up to four of them passing by at the same time! Our second day was even better, and just might have been the best day of this trip! The first person was ready to get in the water at 7:00 am, and we already had two sharks waiting for him! The submersible cage started it's rotation around 9:00 am after everyone had a good breakfast. We had shark activity all day long, with as many as six sharks at once! Our last day started off with sharks down deep in the morning, but picked up in the afternoon when they started to hang around closer to the surface! Overall, the three days of diving were really good, our guests had a lot of fun in and out of the cages from seven am to six pm! They had plenty of opportunities to get good photos and video of these incredible animals. Some even capture the sharks with their jaws open with chum inside their mouth, others got some excellent images of great white breaches! Another Solmar V trip full of happy people with stories to tell!

Pablo DM Onboard

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our first trip back to Isla Guadalupe, 2014!! We had a fantastic trip to open our season of great white sharks.

Our first trip of the season very successful with great white sharks.
So the first day heading out of the Ensenada marina, on our crossing we had the joy of seeing two blue whales off the bow of the boat along with a gorgeous sunset at dinner time!

Day 1

It is 7:30 am at Guadalupe Island and we have the island right in front of us, we are hoping the dreams of many of our customers are about to come true! At the call of dive briefing everybody gets in the salon to go over the rules and procedures for cage diving while our crew is lowering the cages into the water! At 8:30 somebody outside yells "SHARKKKKKKK!!" We did not have to wait that long at all for the first sharks to show up, and the conditions were good, the water was as blue as always in this area, with well more than 100ft/30m visibility, a water temp at 73˚F/22.7˚C, flat surface ocean.
During our 3 days of diving here, the sharks were here with us, we counted at least 10 different sharks every day, the mornings and evenings surface cages were busy with sharks coming from all directions trying to get the bait! They are very fast ambush predators, so it takes concentration from our shark wranglers to make sure that the great whites don't get overfed! From the sun deck we counted up to 7 great whites in front of the surface cages at one time, there were plenty of opportunities for pictures from every angle. At times she sharks came straight toward the cage with mouth opened wide to get bait, other times turning in the corners of cages just barely keeping space to not touch it, they get so close on some passes right in front of the cage!
I am telling you they swim so close to the cage, you see every detail on their body from the wrinkles and scars to the tiniest details! The sharks did several half-breaches with their body partially out of the water, and if your camera was ready you had a chance of getting a once in a lifetime shot. Another thing that made us happy is to see friends sharks from the past season coming on time to their feeding grounds to see us! For the most part we had 12-14' males with a handful of juveniles around 9' long, with only one female in the area, although it is notably early in the season to spot a female!
One night right around BBQ time around sunset, while everyone was talking about the great day we just had,  we enjoyed a full body breach out of the water just 20' from the bow of the Solmar V! The next day we saw a breach before 7:00 am while we were wrangling the surface cages, on the starboard just "steps" away from this cage showing us the whole length and white color of the under body, it was a great way to start the day.  We closed the day with another big and loud jump for no apparent reason other than showing off for our guests!
The Submersible cage also was very successful with exception of last day when it was a bit windy. The submersible gives a different perspective of seeing the shark, you can see them swimming slowly under the cages, under the Solmar V, and around the submersibles getting very close to our divers!
Along with great whites, for a short while we had the company of bottle nose dolphins in the shark area, seals also chasing the tail of white sharks!  
On our return to civilization we had a smooth crossing, one and a half hours before we got to Ensenada we spotted blue whales again, just resting on the surface, one of them even surfaced just feet away from Solmar V, seals in the area and of course more dolphins made the smile of people.
We had a fantastic trip to open our season of great white sharks.
Dive Inst

Daniel Zapata.