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  

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