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January 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 32, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Nautilus Belle Amie, Guadalupe Island, Mexico

eye-to-eye with a great white

from the January, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

Shortly after the social media video of a great white shark inside a cage with a diver at Guadalupe Island went viral in October, friends learned I was going there myself to cage dive with great whites. The reaction was pretty much "You're going where?" "Have you seen that video?" "Are you nuts?"

Cage diving with Guadalupe's great whitesNow, I've dived with Guadalupe's great whites twice before from the Nautilus Explorer, and I've never had a shark inside the cage with me. But on this trip, it felt like they were trying.

Anticipating great white shark encounters is half the fun, and for me that began the moment I signed up. In October, my buddy and I arrived late afternoon at San Diego's Best Western Island Palms Resort, and I could feel the excitement among the divers as we met in the hospitality suite. The room buzzed. Around 7:30 p.m., we boarded the chartered bus, clutching cookies and water bottles, for the 25-minute journey to the Mexican border, where everyone disembarked and went through immigration while the luggage was X-rayed and the bus scanned and inspected. Then, off for the twohour drive to the Ensenada pier. After being greeted by Captain Bryden, we departed for the 150-mile, 20+-hour steam to Guadalupe Island for the five-night trip with three days of cage diving This was one of the quietest boats I've ever been on, with barely perceptible generator and engine noise even while underway.

The 135-foot broad-beamed Belle Amie is a stable vessel, so the crossing wasn't too rough, although a couple of passengers kept to their cabins the entire time. During the full day at sea, I got to know many of the others, including divers from Finland and Holland, ranging in age from the 20s to the 70s, as we set up gear, had muster station practice, ship and cage orientation, and three meals. This, by the way, is not scuba diving; air is surface-supplied, so the only gear you need is a mask, and of course, a wet suit or dry suit for long hours in cool water....

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