Experience the Great White Shark Diving in South Africa and Guadalupe Island
Written by: manager | Posted: February 6, 2020 at 9:38 am | Total Comments: 46
The great white shark, also otherwise known as white pointer or more maliciously as white death. Most people have an immediate image that pops into their heads when they hear the words white shark – some distant reminder of a scene from Jaws plays over in their minds of an impending shark attack and fear or panic sets in.
Truth is, there is a lot more happening beneath the surface and white sharks embody a lot more than the negativity that surrounds them. They are powerful yet graceful, and yes, instilling of fear yet deserving of respect. After all they have been around for millions of years and in that regard earned the right to be the Apex predator of the oceans. And in that sense not just great whites, every shark species, because they are all an example of evolutionary perfection.
The movie Jaws was hands down one of the most detrimental things to ever happen to Great White Sharks Diving South Africa. It instilled so much fear in the public that it became enemy number one. Because they were so feared, they were often killed. They were hunted in high volume in order to rid the oceans of this monster lurking beneath the surface. Now imagine that? A species so hated they almost got wiped off the face of this planet. This hatred of species that has only ever done what it was born to do. Swim, hunt and survive.
Still to this day, it is unclear the full impact and estimate of current populations thanks to the fishing of great whites during the period from the 1970s to the early 90s.
Luckily for white sharks, South Africa took note of their plight and in 1991 became the first country to protect the species. Today, thanks to that action, great white sharks are listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as a vulnerable species and included in the Appendix II (about 21,000 that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with the survival of the species in the wild) of CITIES.
I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. Jaws had the opposite affect on me. There was no fear or hate only admiration and awe at the idea of this magnificent creature that patrolled the oceans. When I was kid I made a promise to myself after seeing that movie that I would one day see one with my own eyes. Little did I know that dream would become a reality. Not only a reality, but my profession as well.
For the past 13 years I have been fortunate to work as an underwater videographer and white shark guide, showing clients from all corners of the world my favorite animal and changing perceptions along the way. The majority of my time has been in South African waters but for the past 2 seasons I have also been fortunate enough to experience white sharks in two different locations. Great white shark cage Diving South Africa and Guadalupe Island off of Baja Mexico.
That is why I am writing this article because I was asked to share a story about a beautiful girl I met while I was there. Her name is Lucy. She is 17 feet long, with amazing girth and a perfect example of how the species is able to adapt to survive. What I mean when I say this is that she is easily identified by the damage to her tail. She is by far one of my favorite sharks at the island to spend time with underwater. Not just because of her size but because of her beauty and the ease at which she moves underwater and the respect that the other sharks give her when she shows up.
Lucy was first identified in 2003 with a normal tail, returned in 2004 and then disappeared for 2 years returning in 2007 with a damaged tail. Now, no one really knows what happened or how this damage came about but there are some speculations ranging from fishing gear to a fight with another shark. Whatever the answer maybe- Lucy is a survivor and one of the bigger females at about 16-17 feet that still makes the migration back to White shark Diving in Guadalupe Island.
And that is where the fascination for me comes in- this mystery that surrounds them. Where does she go, what is she doing while she is gone, and more importantly what draws her back to this volcanic rock in the middle of the Pacific? These are questions we might never get answers to and a part of me at times hopes that we never do. It adds to the thrill of being able to spend time with these amazing creatures. Just when we think we have the answers all figured out, they come and surprise us and change everything we ever thought we knew about them.
Earlier I said I was fortunate to be able to spend time with these sharks and by that I just don’t mean them. I also mean being able to take everyday people as clients on this fascinating journey both in South Africa and to Guadalupe Island, to spend time with them and help get rid of this negative stigma that surrounds them and change people’s perceptions about such a feared creature. They are not the monsters of the deep they have been made out to be and have earned the right and deserve the protection and respect for continuing to survive no matter the challenges in front of them.
We offer an opportunity for people to view and appreciate these magnificent creatures and hopefully change their perception of one of the most feared and hated animals found in our oceans due to negative media hype and public perceptions. It is a small step in a larger conservation battle and all we can hope for is that this issue is or becomes one of some importance to the local community as well as the worldwide one.
We are speaking for an animal without a voice- if one lets people know that there are issues that need to be discussed, you will always find someone willing to help a cause. Change is slow but all you need is to change one mind at a time.
Awareness leads to understanding and education- we will always fear what we do not understand. Understanding leads too conservation- the conservation objective is to change negative views and attitudes towards sharks. Conservation leads to protection- the protection of our seas and ocean environment needs to happen now before it is too late.
(extra info about Lucy provided by Marine Biologist Nicole Nasby Lucas of Marine Conservation Science Institute)