Scuba Diving with Great White Sharks

great white shark diving

Although sharks have always received a bad rap I have never found them particularly scary.  I've encountered black-tipped sharks in the Eastern Pacific, blue and mako sharks off Catalina Island and the small, harmless bottom dwellers (horn and swell sharks) at Catalina itself.   


And working in the Shark Lagoon exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacifc in Long Beach, California - diving with sharks is a regular task for me.

In fact I often find myself informing the uninitiated the "kelp has killed a lot more people than sharks have"

great white shark divingOn the other hand that did not stop me from being thrilled when my friend Greg (and owner of my favorite dive shop) invited me to Guadalupe Island to dive with and see great white sharks up close.   


We met in Burbank at 3:00 am one morning and with a quick stop in Anaheim to pick up another Miss Scuba, Kelly who was to be my roommate, we were on our way.   


In San Diego we met up with Jackie and Holly from Great White Shark Adventures and we proceeded to Ensenada in Baja to meet up with our boat. 


Then there was a 20 hour boat ride to Guadalupe Island itself.

great white shark divingThe next morning anticipation and excitement ran high as the island came into view and we approached our anchorage.   A couple more hours passed while the crew put the shark cages in the water and briefed us on the use of the hookah apparatus and how to enter and exit the cages. 


Then we all suited up and didn't have long to wait until the first shark appeared.   


Soon there were sharks everywhere.  Big and small great white sharks came to check us out (and the chum too).   


They didn't seem the least concerned with the humans in the funny cages and gave us quite a show as they swam around.

The real treat though was being allowed to descend in the "deep cage".   We entered the cage at the surface, put our hookah regulator in our mouths, and descended 30 feet.   


Since great whites feed at the surface at that depth we were not considered prey and they were not remotely interested in attacking us.   


great white shark divingThat being the case, once the cage was at 30 feet the divemaster encouraged us to climb out of the cage and sit or stand on top of it.  Believe me, there is no greater high than standing up a platform at depth and having great white sharks swim around you!   It is an incredibly awesome experience.

And then we had a surprise!  Among the great whites one lonely scalloped hammerhead showed up.  We were all surprised because he was so unexpected but he hung around the boat with the great whites and took his share of the bait.  That definitely topped the trip for us.

Too soon we had to leave the island behind and return to the real world but all of us vowed to return.

And, guess what, we were in no danger from these sharks either!



Written by Susy Horowitz, California. Photo Credit: Susy Horowitz