BLUEWATER PHOTO 2017 GUADALUPE GROUP TRIP / WORKSHOP
By Matthew Sullivan
I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to lead the Bluewater 2017 Great White trip to Isla Guadalupe off Ensenada, Mexico. I actually had just completed my first visit to the island a month earlier on a personal trip and was beyond excited for the chance to go back in September.
The host vessel for this run was the Nautilus Explorer. It is a fantastic boat and very spacious (all of the Nautilus boats are). We had my good buddy Captain Ramon behind the wheel, and an incredibly entertaining group of divemasters. Thank you Sam, Alastair, Sai, and Ronald! They kept us safe, laughing, and did a great job of bringing us lots and lots of gorgeous great whites.
Guadalupe is renowned as the best place in the world for photographing the ocean's most famous predator. That is based in large part on the high number of sharks in a relatively small area, and the generally fantastic weather/water conditions. After the 20ish hour crossing we moored up in a protected bay, the cages were put into the water, and I dont think anybody got any sleep that night. There was too much anticipation for the morning. As soon as the cages opened at 6:30am, divers got in, and the sharks showed up. There is nothing quite like locking eyes with such a remarkable animal as it swims by and knowing it is looking at you just as intently as you are looking at it.
There are almost 250 identified sharks that have been seen around the island. Over the course of our three days we saw around 20 different individuals, and many stayed with us for all three days. September is when the big females start to move in. Sizes ranged from about 9 feet, up to a giant ~19ft, 5000+ pound female. Many times there were 3-4 great whites around the cages at once. It is remarkable how quickly such a large animal can appear and disappear in clear, bright blue water. It's not hard to understand why they are such successful predators, as prey likely never even sees them coming.
For the three days of diving the routine was the same. Wake up, eat, sharks, eat, sharks, eat, sharks, eat, sharks. You get the point. It is all the food (amazing) and sharks you can handle. I like to describe it as the laziest trip you'll ever do.
I could not have asked for a better group of guests to join me on this adventure. They were all incredibly friendly, funny, and patient with me as I worked my way through my inaugural trip lead. I gave a quick presentation the first day on photographing the sharks and then spent time answering specific camera/shark questions over the course of the trip. It was so nice to see everybody going hardcore, jumping into the cages any chance they had and coming away with some beautiful shots of the great whites.
A happy group of shark divers!
I am eagerly (impatiently) awaiting my return trip next year when I am once again bringing a group of photographers and shark fans to Guadalupe to dive with the giants. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join, or visit this link!
A few important notes:
> Please bring any seasickness prevention measures you have. There is always the possibility for rough crossings but once the boat is moored it doesn't move.
> Important for any trip, but please check any and all camera gear you plan on bringing well in advance of boarding the boat. Once on the boat there is no access to replacement gear and spare parts are only available if somebody else happens to bring them. I usually bring spares of small, common items just in case but it is not a guarantee that trip leaders or other guests will have the specific piece you need.
> You do not need to be scuba certified to come on this trip and use the surface cages. However you will need to be certified to descend in the submersible cages.