Sunday, September 13, 2009

Guadalupe Island - "Shredder" M.I.A

We're back from another adventure to Isla Guadalupe with the crew of Shark Diver and 19 very happy divers.

As the years roll on for me personally it's trips like this last one that allow me to reflect on how many years we have actually been down here.

It seems like almost yesterday I was talking a somewhat reluctant business associate into chartering a vessel to go to Isla Guadalupe on a commercial level back in late 2001.

I remember saying at the time that this site would become, in just a few short years, the premier white shark site on the planet. I was not disappointed in that assessment.

So it was last week I found myself face to face with "Jacques", a 14 foot male shark who slowly glided in for a unique meeting of homo sapien and carcaradon carcharias. Jacques is a very curious animal and for several hours the two of us eyeballed each other as he glided ever closer with each inspection pass, absolutely transfixed at the critters inside the cages, as we were with him.

Maurico Hoyos, CICIMARS resident shark researcher was on site for the entire week tagging three animals while we watched and collecting a full compliment of DNA samples as well. I joined him briefly on his daily rounds as he recovered a VEMCO data logger from the south end of the island. We chatted about his research and some exciting news he had from the season thus far.

Mauricio has become one of the guardians of Isla Guadalupe. His research keeps him on the island from August through late December each year and he knows these sharks like few others from thousands of hours of intimate contact with them. He knows when they feed, where they feed, which animals are on site and which sharks are late arriving this year.

I was a bit surprised and somewhat troubled to learn that "Shredder", one of the islands prime resident males had not arrived to the island yet. Over the past eight seasons he has always been one of the first sharks to meet us here and has become a welcome sight to divers from around the world.

We named "Shredder" after he attacked our anchor cable and set our 88 foot vessel adrift on our first commercial season to Isla Guadalupe many years ago. He's also sporting a very distinctive shredded dorsal fin after a run in with a larger shark.

The image we have posted here is Mauricio with Shredder back in 2007.

Like ground crews waiting for bombers to return in WW2, we wait for the sharks of Isla Guadalupe to make their increasingly perilous round trip journeys to and from this island each year - through oceans filled with hooks.

Hopefully old Shredder is waylaid and we'll be seeing him soon. He'll have to hurry along, last weeks tally way 17 different animals over three days and no dive rotation with fewer than 3-5 animals at any given time.

Guadalupe is a special place, I knew it would be so many years ago and it just keeps getting better year after year. Send some Karma into the Pacific this week for Shredder, he's missing in action and we're still waiting for him.

Patric Douglas CEO