Great White Sharks | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD


The Great White Shark—one of the most feared
predators in the seas. This is one of the most dangerous sharks in the world, considered
by many to be a man-eater. But just how aggressive are these sharks? Join me on an expedition to
investigate great white sharks. Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! Great white sharks are not easy to find. There
are only a handful of places in the world where divers can see them in the wild. So I’ve come here, to San Diego California,
to get on a boat and make a 200 miles crossing to an inland in Mexico called Guadalupe where
we hope to find Great White Sharks. My home for the expedition is a converted
fishing boat. I’ll be spending the week with several other divers and a few shark
researchers. Our journey will take us across 200 miles
of open Pacific Ocean, from San Diego, to Guadalupe Island in Mexico, off the Baja peninsula. We depart from the dock and start our journey
with high expectations. Our first stop, however, is at the bait shop,
where we pick up baitfish to use for catching tuna. Then the tuna will be used as bait for
the Sharks. While I often swim with sharks in open water,
unprotected by a cage, White Sharks are a little too big for that. The crew insists
that we use cages for safety. After 2 hours, we pass the Coronado Islands
in Mexican waters. This is the last land I’ll see until we reach Guadalupe…another 20
hours from now Along the way we stop to do some fishing.
I’m generally not much of a fisherman. After all, I would rather swim with the fish than
catch them, but in this case we need some bait to attract the sharks, so everyone has
to do their part. Oh Strong. HELLO. Aw another on it the food chain. Whoa! Strong! HELLO. Aww another one in the
food chain! We then continue our journey to Guadalupe
Island. We encounter rough seas, but finally, the
next morning we arrive at Guadalupe. This desolate island is an extinct volcano that
pokes out of the Pacific. Almost nothing can survive on this rock outcropping. Our first task upon arrival is to get the
chum in the water. The crew use fish meal and water to create a fishy soup in a trash
can. Then, a pump squirts it overboard. This creates a scent trail in the water to draw
the sharks to the boat. Once the chum has been started, we turn our
attention to getting the cages in the water. These large cages can hold up to five people
each, and they have large holes for cameras. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some great
shots of the sharks. Once the cages are in the water, we tie some
tuna on a rope and throw it into the water with a float to keep it near the surface. Members of the crew also take turns whacking
the water with a pole, which is said to attract sharks. The water slapping and the chum soup helps
get the sharks to the boat, but only something more substantial like tuna chunks will convince
them to stick around and approach the cages. Now we wait. It can take hours or even days
to get sharks. Then without warning, a shark comes up and
checks out one of the tuna baits. Today we’re lucky because it only took a couple of hours. Now the fun part. I suit up into my gear for
my dive with a White Shark! The water is about 70 degrees, so I need a
wetsuit to stay warm. Next I step down onto the swim platform where the crew outfits me
with a really heavy weight harness. A normal weight belt for diving with this
much of a wetsuit is about 10 pounds, but I am wearing a 40-pound weight harness so
I’ll be able to stand firmly on the bottom of the cage without floating up and hitting
my head on the top of the cage! I don’t need a bulky scuba tank because
we are using surface-supplied air on a long hose. Diving with Surface-Supplied Air is a very
different kind of diving than what I’m used to, but it works well for this kind of underwater
experience….as long as the shark can’t get to the hose! They hand me my camera and I drop below the
waves to wait for a shark. You would think it would be easy to see the
sharks once I hit the water, but it’s more complicated than that. The sharks like to
stay down in deep water, watching the surface from below. White Sharks get the advantage over their
prey by surprising them. We have to hope that the shark wants to grab this bait and come
close to the cage. While I wait for a shark to go for the tuna
bait, I can’t do anything but wait. And wait. And wait. Shark diving can actually
be pretty boring sometimes. Since the sharks are taking so long, the crew
has put out another kind of lure…a 5 gallon plastic bucket filled with frozen fish. Yummy! At last I see something coming, but it doesn’t
look like a shark. It’s a sea lion coming in to check out the tuna. It turns out the
sea lion is only mildly interested in the dead fish. Sea lions prefer to catch live
fish. Yet this curious animal doesn’t seem too concerned that a White Shark is lurking
somewhere below. Or maybe it doesn’t know. Suddenly, the Sea lion vanishes and a shark
appears. It seems to be aware of us, but it’s definitely more interested in the bait. It
makes a couple of close passes to examine the bait. Then it makes its move, going directly for
the tuna. It grabs it, bites easily through the rope, and takes off with a tasty mouthful. After that, the shark heads back down below
us, out of sight. What’s going on? Why is the shark not attacking the cage and trying
to eat us? As I watch the White Shark behavior over a
couple of days, I can see a pattern. It likes nice chunks of bait to eat, and it has no
interest in the cages or the people in them. WOW! What an incredible animal. Well, it just
goes to show you the sharks are really interested in the bait. They really haven’t got a lot
of interest in me. They know exactly what they want and they go straight for it. And
the cage is really to make me feel better. Occasionally the shark comes up and bites
the bucket full of frozen chum, just to see if there is anything tasty in there. When
it figures out that the chum is chopped up too finely to eat, it goes back to the bottom. The White Sharks only come up for food. They
can tell the difference between nice juicy piece of fish, and a bucket. And they show
no interest in chasing the sea lions around the boat either. These sharks are obviously a lot smarter than
they appear. Some of the shark research being done around
Guadalupe Island includes identifying individuals to see if they return year after year. Several
have been named including Scarboard, a large female who has a scar on her right, which
is her starboard, side. Other identifying features researchers look
for include the coloration in the area around the gills, and also the color pattern by the
tail. No two sharks are exactly alike. Any distinguishing marks like this white streak
on the nose help researchers identify individual sharks. Time flies when you’re having fun. All too
soon, our time with the sharks comes to an end and we have to turn for home. I look forward
to returning the island of Guadalupe and visiting the sharks again soon. It may be rather desolate
above the water, but is rich with incredible animals living within its blue underwater
world!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *