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Dive Review of Nautilus Explorer in
Mexico (Western)/Guadalupe Island

Nautilus Explorer: "Shredder, Ropey and so much more!", Oct, 2018,

by Eric Eckes, CA, US (Contributor Contributor 18 reports with 11 Helpful votes). Report 10747.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments First a shameless plus for Ed Stetson and the Historical Diving Society (HDS). Ed runs several dive trips each year including one or two great white shark trips to Guadalupe Island where Ed generously donates the profits to the HDS. I serve as both director and officer of the HDS and this was my first trip to Guadalupe Island.

Our adventure began in a San Diego hotel where all divers met and boarded a special shark themed bus name "Shredder". Shredder took us south of the border to Ensenada where our dive boat awaited. The benefit of traveling this way allows divers to bring any/all luggage/camera gear/etc. with the one caveat that you must personally haul it across the U.S./Mexico border. Having made the border crossing we settled into our seats where we were entertained by the movie "Jaws" as we headed south.

Our dive boat waiting for us in Ensenada was the amazing Nautilus Bellie Amie. It is very spacious holding 32 divers although we never felt crowded. My wife and I had booked the Emerald suite which is one of the larger rooms on the boat. We boarded late at night and then began the 20 hour trek to Guadalupe Island.

The divers onboard were a mixture of seasoned HDS great white shark divers as well as newbies like my wife and myself. We also had very special guests Howard and Michelle Hall of underwater IMAX video fame along with Dr. Chris Lowe and Drey Stockert from the Shark Lab. More on their involvement later.

The common areas of the Belle Amie are very spacious. There is plenty of room for all 32 guests to sit in the common living area at the same time. The dining area is separated from the common living area and equally spacious. The great white shark trips from Ensenada to Guadalupe Island comprise 5 days with one day allocated to travel time to Guadalupe Island and one return day back to Ensenada. That left three days of great white shark cage diving.

Day one of shark diving had us up early to watch the crew place the five cages into the water. The Belle Amie has two surface cages and three submersible cages that drop to 24'. Each cage has four surface supplied regulators along with a separate scuba tank with four regulators as backup. The two surface cages were open to divers from dawn to dusk. In fact, you did not need to be a certified scuba diver to enter these cages. You could spend as much time as you wanted in these cages. The three submersible cages formally scheduled certified divers three dives per day although you could always find someone willing to give up a spot allowing for more dives.

Early on day one we were treated to the sound of a chainsaw which was used to cut the large frozen tuna on board into manageable pieces for "wrangling" the sharks. There were two wrangling stations on either side of the stern where crew would spend the day throwing out tuna on lines and dragging them past the surface cages. This wrangling produced some nice surface shots of sharks attacking the bait as well as underwater shots from the surface cages.

I found the surface cages to be rather bumpy and challenged my photographic skills. I much preferred the submersible cages which were much more steady and I was able to make up to five dives per day in these cages.

The sharks were plentiful. In fact we saw seven different great white sharks of all sizes on one dive. Some people opted to use strobes with their cameras although I found them unnecessary given the amount of sunlight available at 24'. My only editing in Photoshop was white balancing and cropping. Anyway, we had three days of shark action although it appeared the shark action had decreased substantially by the third day. It was also overcast on day three which make photographing more challenging. There was one shark named Ropey who was named for having rope wrapped around him. It is illegal to enter Guadalupe water outside of the cages and Nautilus Liveaboards was using our photos of Ropey to convince the Mexican government to allow Nautilus divers to enter the water and remove the rope from Ropey.

Howard and Michelle Hall joined the trip as special guests of Ed and the HDS. Each evening they would entertain us with various videos of their exploits. My favorite video was made at Guadalupe Island in 1986 for Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Was it ever funny! Also onboard were Dr. Chris Lowe and Drey Stockert. Chris runs the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach and their purpose during the trip was to broadcast live from one of the surface cages to middle school science classes. In fact, children could ask Dr Lowe questions while he was underwater in the cage. Dr Lowe also educated us as to many facts and dispelled may rumors about great white sharks.

The staff onboard the Belle Amie was amazing from the kitchen staff to the dive staff. During the crossing to/from Guadalupe Island the food was served buffet style. The first full night at anchor we were treated to a special taco night on the top deck complete with very reasonably priced Mexican beer. Other meals while at anchor were served to the guests by the staff. The food was good and plentiful.

A side note is that we were allowed to bring drones with us to Guadalupe Island with the understanding that drones were not allowed over the island. We had five divers with drones on the trip.

After three days of diving it was time to head back to Ensenada. There we took Shredder north and once again lugged our luggage across the border. Finally we arrived back at our San Diego hotel where we picked up our cars and headed home.
Websites Nautilus Explorer   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Malaysia, Philippines, Truk Lagoon, Palau, Yap, Mexico, Galapagos, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Red Sea, Cocos Island, Cuba, So Cal Local, Canada, Tonga, Mexico
Closest Airport Tijuana, MX Getting There We drove from Southern California down to San Diego where we hopped on a bus bound for Ensenada. There we boarded the beautiful Nautilus Belle Amie.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 71-72°F / 22-22°C Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 100-100 Ft/ 30-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions We were restricted to cages of two types: 2 surface cages available at any time and 3 24' submerged cages according to a preset schedule.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters N/A Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The Nautilus Belle Amie has a spacious area on the dive deck dedicated to underwater photographers. There is plenty of electrical power and there are dedicated camera rinse tanks.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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