Sarah Matye, of Jack’s Diving Locker, led her first group trip on a double-leg vacation to Mexico, for the “sharkiest trip she could put together” – and sharks showed up!
Our first leg of the trip met in San Diego, CA, where the Nautilus crew picked us up for the van ride across the border. Of course, their bus has a life sized White Shark on the side of it – talk about getting excited! Once we arrived in Mexico, we toured the luxurious Nautilus Belle Amie, and then promptly went to bed. Day 1 was a transit day, as Isla Guadalupe is situated 186 nautical miles offshore of Ensenada, our port. We relaxed, learned about White Shark biology, identification, and enjoyed delicious food.
Days two, three, and four on the liveaboard opened promptly at 6:30am for unlimited cage diving! Before the sun had hit the horizon, divers were in the water. The water was a “refreshing” 68 degrees Fahrenheit – Brrrr! Within the first 20 minutes of the cages opening, we all witnessed our first Great White Shark – and she was every bit as spectacular as we all imagined. We fell in love with Lucy. She was every bit of 16+ feet long, a massive, beautiful and graceful full-grown female. Estimated at over 50 years old, she earned her battle scars, scrapes and damage. I think due to her slower nature, she has acquired an abnormal amount of Pilot fish about her. That first day in the water with Great White Sharks was incredible. Throughout the day, we saw an estimated 15 different animals, with our record of 6 at one time, slowly swimming around and below the boat.
Cheers, high fives, and celebratory drinks accompanied the jacuzzi soak after the first full day of diving. With a belly full of gourmet dinner and happy hearts, we all went to bed in anticipation of the next day, and more white sharks. Another 10 different animals, and repeats from previous days, graced us with their presence. We all spent as much time in those
cages as our thermal tolerances allowed – some of us alternating
between jacuzzi and diving to keep ourselves warm!
We all fell in love with White Sharks. These sharks are not vicious killing machines, they are calculated, cautious and graceful predators. Built for their lifestyle of hunting agile pinnipeds (seals and seal lions), while they are not actively hunting they are just cruising around, much as we see our Tiger Sharks here in Kona. Louise states perfectly, “I wish everyone had the opportunity to share what I saw. I was genuinely surprised to witness the docile nature of these animals; they moved with intent and intellect, grace and strength.”
Buddy Fritz won our “Iron Cage” award, by far spending the most time in the cage, an estimated 8 hours a day in the water! Photo ID followed each day of diving, and through identification, the crew and biologists aboard the nautilus estimated we saw between 20-25 different White Sharks on our trip!
We were all sad to leave Guadalupe. Day 5 transiting back to Ensenada consisted of photo editing, packing, and more perfectly prepared meals. Such beauty needs to be savored, not feared. We were so fortunate this trip had good weather, beautiful bounties of white sharks, and amazing friends to join along this adventure. We all hugged goodbye, and Sarah left to lead the second leg of her “sharkiest trip ever” – in Cabo San Lucas! Stay tuned for our second edition to Sarah’s shark trip!