Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Isla Guadalupe Trip #11!

Hi friends!

Here we are on our trip number 11 of our Guadalupe season!
Day 1, we had all of our guests on the boat ready to go and after doing our safety drill at about 1:30pm...off we go!...saying good bye to the marina sea lion colony and starting our crossing once again to the blue water island!
The crossing was a little rough with medium to high swell, air temperature on the low 70's but that didn't change the mood on the boat, the crew was joking and laughing as always and the guests where very excited and couldn't wait for the next morning to come and get in the water with the magestic Guadalupe great whites!
We woke up the next morning to a nice sunny day, air temperature was on the medium to high 70's and at about 8:30am we saw the island!...everybody started asking at what time we would be in the water and it was at 9:30 when we anchored at the island and at 9:50 the first diver hit the water!...after 40 minutes of throwing bait in the water the first shark showed up!...a big female of about 14ft. came to say hello to our divers and take the first peace of chum!, while clouds would come down from the top of the island like a cloud waterfall...excellent show!
After that people started going into the submersible cage with Instructor Dany, who was happy to take our GoPro camera to show everybody on the saloon TV what was happening down at 25ft.! There the water was pretty warm, 73F, whats made us think maybe action was not gonna be so good, but the rotation kept going all day with some on and offs on the shark action. That day we saw 4 different sharks, 3 males and the big female that kept coming around until 6pm exciting everybody in the cages!
After all that excitement we finished our day with a great mexican BBQ that our chef Tony prepared for us!..excellent tacos and off to bed!

Next day in the morning we woke up to a windy day, what made us take the decision of not going in to the submersible cage that day, putting our guests safety first as always on Solmar V!
Anyway the back cages had rotation all day until about 4:40pm, when sharks stop coming by, in total we had 7 different sharks, 1 of them a big 14ft female and the rest were all about 10-12ft males, a stripped marlin that swing by the cages and also a California sea lion that made everybody think...What are you doing here??? Don't you see the great whites???....after dancing around the cages and trying to get the chum that hangs from the boat on a plastic box, with no success, swam away unharmed.

Last day of cage diving on this trip and again 8am...first diver in the water!
It took only 25 minutes this time for our first visitor to come by...a 12ft. Male great white started the show and every body started asking us...submersible cage today???...and the answer was YES!...at 8:30 we started the rotation on that cage and it didn't stop until 3pm!...we had a lot of action down at 25ft. Where the 2 12ft males came around several times swimming really close to the cage and giving our divers a great show!

At the end we think the high water temperature is giving us less shark action but once again another great Guadalupe Solmar V trip!

Dive Instructor
Solmar V

Monday, September 22, 2014

Isla Guadalupe Trip #9!

HI all!
Finally Odile Storm is giving us a break so we are heading out of the Marina in Ensenada for more White sharks at the isolated Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
Life is abundant here in the Ensenada Harbor, as we made our way out to sea, we see sea lions laying down on the channel bouys watching us as we go by!  They don't bother to move a flipper, barking loudly,  you see them, then you smell them or maybe it's the other way around!
Our crossing was nice and pleasant, air temp was in the upper 70's with a little bit of wind and mild swells.  We were watching the horizon when we spotted some jumping off in the distance!  Bottlenose dolphins were heading our way, and as we got closer to the dolphins we noticed something was a bit different.  Yes yes yes!! A small group of short-finned pilot whales on our starboard side!  Then we had another small group on the port side!  Then more of them spread out into smaller groups, there were 30-40 of them crossing along in no hurry!  We slowed down to get a closer look, and Captain Gerardo made circles to get us more time with them!
Several times we had both dolphins and short-finned pilot whales riding the bow together!  Dolphins are more rolling on their sides, belly up, doing a half breach, we could hear them chirping if you listen closely.  
We arrived to clear blue water amongst the shelter of Guadalupe Island, dropped the anchor, and everyone was getting excited during our dive briefing!  Conditions were good, it was a warm sunny day, there was no wind, water temp in the submersible was 71F.  The day started off slow, we didn't see any sharks as quickly as we have on the other trips so far this season.  In the afternoon a large male shark showed up, we got a great view of him from the submersible, and he made a pass around the surface cages, and then swam away!  Right after this male left, another shark showed up, made a similar pattern aroudn the submersible, to the surface cages, and then disappeared into the blue!  A 3rd shark showed up shortly there after, and hung around the submersible cage until light got low and we had to call it for the day! All of this action is viewable on the surface in real time via GoPro connection to the boat on the surface. After the diving was completed, we had a delicious dinner below a gorgeous sky full of stars!
Day 2 we awoke to a gorgeous dark orange color and pale orange sunrise as it progressed!  The island itself is unique, cloud formations on the highest north eastern point drop as a curtain covering the island, underwater it is a whole different story!  A temporary home for the majestic and powerful great white shark, we went to a new location this morning called prison beach, and it offered much better visibility than yesterday!  The water temp remained the same, we had a mild current from the north.  Our first diver got in the water at 7:00 am, and the rotation didn't stop all day! The hope to see a high was high, seagulls were witnesses to our activity trying to find these giant creatures, we spotted some dolphins, and a sea turtle, but the great whites were unfortunately elusive!

Dive Inst,
Daniel Zapata

Monday, September 15, 2014

Isla Guadalupe Trip #8!

Guadalupe Island trip report
We arrived to the island around 8:30 am on Thursday the 11th. 
After forty minutes or so, the stern cages were ready to go and the people started to jump in the water excited to see some Great White Sharks. At first the day was slow, the first hour we didn´t see sharks; but for the second rotation things changed and the Great White started to show up! During the rest of the day we saw six sharks coming and going, so the guest were taking turns to go in the cages, the two cages on the stern and the submersible was going up and down all day.
The second day was the day with more activity in the submersible cage; up to three sharks were swimming around us and they came pretty close too! So close that some divers had the feeling that they were able to touch the animal. In the surface cages the action was good too. The shark called “Mau” was chasing the bait continuously and some times breaching. In total we saw four Great White during the day.
For the last day things started slow, the first hours we didn’t have activity and it was after nine a.m. that we saw the first shark. During the day we saw three Great White, “Mau” included. Part of the day the visibility was really bad, so we couldn´t use the submersible cage.
The water conditions were not the best for this trip because the last storm that passed the island. It was raining for three days with big swells, so when we arrived we still had the remaining’s with poor visibility and water temperature of 73ºF at the surface and 71ºF at 30 feet.
On this trip our guest were very excited because for some of them it was the first time they experienced SCUBA diving, for some others the first time they saw the Great White Shark. Also we had people who were in Guadalupe with us before and people who have seen great whites in South Africa. Guest from different countries, USA, Canada, UK, France and Germany but all with one thing in common love for the nature and all happy after five days trip to Guadalupe island onboard the Solmar V!
Pablo DM onboard

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Trip #7 at Guadalupe Island!

Hola everyone out there!
Our first day, we departed Ensenada Harbor for trip #7 heading for Guadalupe Island, listening to the loud barking of California sea lions in the harbor!  The great whites are waiting for our arrival!    Great whites waiting on, we had mild ocean conditions on our crossing, a bit of swells but not bad and mild wind, with a lot of sun! In front of us was Todos Santos Island is where we witnessed approximately 400 white belly dolphins coming to join us for a long time! Captain Gerardo was making big circles with the Solmar V playing with them in our wake, leaping even 8ft/2.4m above the surface!  The dolphins continued to swim along together effortlessly, jumping, rolling on their side, you lean over the board a bit to see them even closer and to your surprise they are watching you too!  A number of Cameras were shooting dolphins surfing swells, leaping, long jumps due to the speed they develop, etc. The fun was on as we had margaritas prepared by Luis steward on board kept flowing.  Our eyes were set on the Horizon for Blue Whales unfortunately they were not in the area, instead we got a great sunset and a delicious dinner prepared by Tony our chef on board!
Our first day of diving we arrived a little before 9 am. With a unique cloud system covering just the top north of it, all your senses need to be so sharp to be underwater! And we arrived to our anchor point to very blue water. Blue Blue water? Yes blue blue water! 110ft/33.5m vis+, more good news? Water temp 73˚F/22.7˚C, so as we are ready to put first group in the water, we look overboard! A fin is swimming along the boat cutting the surface! It's a Great white shark, Excellent! From this point in the morning on we had 9 more hrs of sharks, not one single second without a shark in front of us during the day! Minutes later a second male shark shows up, but it is not just any shark! This one is a player, likes to pose, it’s a model! His name is Bruce aka Zapata, minimum body length 15ft/4.5m,  a third male quickly joins the party, a fish named Bite Face is named aka Crazy Luis, body length 13ft/3.9m, these 3 sharks together did whatever they wanted to do with the baits attacking it from everywhere and at the same time! On the surface we had to rotate the wrangling from Captain Gerardo to Manolo and myself, because the action was really on! One shark found the way to get the bait going full speed from depth launching ¾ of its body out of the water 5 times throughout the day, landing on its belly splashing water in all directions!  We kept rotating more people in surface cages, with the shark action still going!  The beautiful thing we have on board the SOLMAR V is the 3 different perspectives from which you can see the action, surface cages 8ft/2.4m depth, second deck (sundeck) guests waiting and taking top side view pictures 12ft/3.6m from surface and submersible cage at 30ft/9.1m! The submersible also had a lot of activity with most of the time 4 sharks coming close to investigate it, 5 to 6 hrs in it and we saw shark from all angles, so very close, very away from it, coming at, descending from surface cages, making close very close circles around it, sharks were very curious about submersible cage! Back at the surface Zapata was still chasing baits with no rest, going from left to right cage back and frwrd. At 18:00 hrs we had no more sun light, the vis turns more dark blue, right when we though no more action one dorsal fin cuts surface, then two then three then four five and six! HaHaHa! Dolphins! Watch out dolphins! At the end of the day only one shark stayed wanting to play more, shark! Zapata. We ended with a delicious Dinner under the stars, Mexican BBQ and celebrating Will ̓s birth Day! 
Shark Diving day 2. The morning itself was gorgeous! The whole day was sharky! From 7:30 AM to 18:00 Hrs our guests were in and out of cages, we really didn't have much downtime without sharks around the cages. The first one showed up at 6:40 am came in slowly swimming, taking its time, from wrangling platform we also see others in deep water, not wanting to come up, it was just a matter of time!  In the mean time lots of yellow tail jacks, scads feeding on bait we have for sharks, water was so blue, it did not have a stint of anything, perfect blue for pictures, the morning started to heat up nicely! You feel it on your shoulders, then bingo! A sharks is coming from the shore direction straight to bait, then others are also coming up to bait, soon after we had a shark traffic in front of cages coming from left and right launching fast attacks to bait non-stop, heads out the water open jaws, dorsal fins cutting the surface followed by the tail, the water so smooth that we actually see their black eyes and size of body around pectoral fin!!  Zapata shows up more peaceful than yesterday, others leave the area a bit, you can tell right away! Shark Horizon comes in, both of these sharks together continue putting on a great show, sometimes turning upside down showing the so white belly, tip of pectoral fin out of the water then back normal position splashing lots of water to come back in, amazing! Seagulls were hanging out just waiting for leftovers overlooking the whole area all the time, one more shark shows up, a large un-named male! We had lots of people on the sundeck just taking pictures from there not wanting to get in the water because of such a great action! Going deeper in submersible cage was as fun and exciting as being on the surface, different perspective, giving one a great view of the whole area counting up to 6 sharks at the same time, 9 Hrs of it! Gunter the shark is here, he has a massive body size, liked to play, challenging you sort of.. he would go for the bait not cutting the rope letting you pull, then shaking the head out the water showing its gum and teeth, splashing water and squeezing the blood out of the bait!  In the mean time I hear lots of cameras shooting and of course our spectators on sundeck so excited, just to end the day a very active juvenile shark took our baits several times, I guess besides being superfast he was very hungry! 
Day3 at Guadalupe, another sharky day!
Among other sharks we had today was CC (cut caudal) a good sized male who is a sneaky and fast shark, learned to come up from below the cages, right where we don’t see it and straight up jumping out of water taking the bait! He would also vanish into the depth and come back from other side to get bait, the fantastic blue water makes possible to see today the shark traffic once again on the surface.  The warm water temperature 73˚F/22.7˚C helps us stay underwater for a long time, allowing us to get those beautiful shots of open mouth, big teeth once again, so all the action happened on the surface, unfortunately we could not use submersible cage today due to those large swells from  storm Norbert. 
Our return to port was a little bumpy due to swells and wind from storm Norbert but once we got to Ensenada area by Isla Todos Santos the white belly dolphins were waiting for us and welcomed us back from our trip, although they were a little spread out but still had the chance to take lots more of pictures and videos from them.
Dive Inst
Daniel Zapata


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Trip report #6 at Guadalupe Island!

Six trips in a row and the action is still on regardless the water conditions from the last trip.
On this trip, after dropping the anchor at 8:00 am as soon as we put the first bait in the water and the first out of 5 sharks made his appearance; a 13’ male immediately rammed the bait taking it away of Gerardo’s hands, the Captain! That was fast! Anyway, the rest of day those 5 sharks kept patrolling the SolmarV. The water temperature is still warm, around 73F, which is not typical for the surrounding waters of Guadalupe where normally is in the high 60’s, however, the visibility has been great, at least 70’!
The second day was kind of slow there were several moments during the day where the sharks remained down deep at 40’, right below the thermocline, but that is the exact depth where we lower the submersible cage up to, so, we had a busy second day in senses of diving the submersible. The sharks literally passed at just 5’ away of the cage, it was pretty good!
The third and last day at the island started super slow, no signs of any shark at all, we did a morning dive in the submersible and the “apex” predators weren’t around the SolmarV, perhaps were been entertained by a school of juicy tunas, who knows…
Until noon, to save the best for last, one of our favor sharks the insane “Crazy Luis” aka Bite Face, showed up to hang around till we left at 3; folks let me tell you that we almost run out of bait because this crazy dude; he also attracted the attention of 2 juvenile sharks that all together delivered an epic show, what a way to close the sixth trip!
Stay tuned for the next adventure at Guadalupe Island with the SolmarV amigos and the “little” whities!
Hasta la próxima!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Isla Guadalupe Trip #5

Trip Report #5
We arrived to Guadalupe Island around 8:30 am the last Sunday. After the briefing the people were ready to jump in the water. Unfortunately on this trip we suffered the effects of a huge storm in the south. The three days of diving we had big waves so we couldn’t use the submersible cage for safety reasons.
The first day was the best day; we saw three or four great white sharks coming and going during the day. In the afternoon the activity slowed down, murky water slowly covered the area so we had to stop the activity earlier.
The second day started slow; the first hours we had one or two sharks passing, but most of them stayed in deep water; probably because this was the day with the biggest waves, from eight to ten feet.
The last day because of the big waves the day before the visibility was poor and the shark activity slow in the morning. Around eleven, the water cleared up a little and the waves were going down so we started to see more sharks chasing the bait. The rest of the day until the time to depart, three sharks were there, a couple of times one of them breached so the people onboard had the opportunity to take pictures.
In general the people had fun this trip, they made video and pictures of the sharks inside the cages and outside when they breached. We wanted to see more activity and be able to use the submersible cage, but everybody understood that this is nature and we have to adapt to what she wanted to give us on that particular moment and we enjoyed it.
It’s always incredible to see these beautiful animals interacting with us the visitors.
Pablo DM onboard