You’d think it would be common sense not to do cageless diving with a great white shark, especially when said diver has little-to-no experience with the ocean’s top predator (or ANY diving experience for that matter).
That was how the diving scene operated at Guadalupe for the first ten years of operations at the island. Operators knew a good thing. They rolled up their sleeves and put in the elbow grease to establish a safe and sustainable cage-diving operation at Guadalupe. Shark Diver, the Islander and a few others practiced safety first and made great white shark diving both safe, practical and very rewarding for folks like you and me.
That’s been at risk for the past several years thanks to a few individuals who showed up once the scene had been established and decided to one-up the operators who set up Guadalupe. For a few extra dollars you could…guess what…go cageless shark diving with the great whites at Guadalupe. Some are even ‘man-handling’ these great white sharks, like they’re puppies playfully doing tricks for a Milk Bone.
That’s beyond dangerous – it’s downright stupid.
Ethics aside, this is an accident waiting to happen. Only the consequences will go far beyond shark cage diving in California, Guadalupe, and the industry in general. A few things we can look forward to:
1) Sharks will be demonized – We’re in the YouTube age, folks. What’s going to happen when a great white gets a little too frisky with a cageless diver? It will go viral faster than you can say “Jack Robinson” and a lot of good work by conservationists and guys like Rob Stewart gets undone.
2) Guadalupe will get shut down – All because a few operators – who DIDN’T put their time in at Guadalupe – wanted to offer cageless diving. It’s notable too that these cageless dives often cost twice as traditional shark cage diving, which brings to question why they’re doing it in the first place.
3) Great Whites will again be hunted – Sharks will be ‘dangerous’ after all. And with no international diving presence at Guadalupe, and with less demand for shark diving, a pair of jaws is an easy way to make a few bucks.
We’re on dangerous ground with cageless diving at Guadalupe, or any other great white site. Great white sharks are not man-eaters, but they’re still predators. So let’s respect them as such. Book a trip with an operator with at least 10 years of experience – curiously none of the ‘cageless’ operations have more than four, which is when this dangerous practice first showed up here in the first place. See these beautiful creatures from the safety of a cage, and respect their dominance in a world we’re privileged to visit.