Deep Scratches and Fresh Wounds on a Female Great White Shark

Location: Lighthouse Bay, Guadalupe Island, Baja California, Mexico

Comments: Today was our last day of cage diving with great white sharks on this particular trip and things ended up being a wee bit slower than the preceding days. Shark sightings were still really good but lacked the sheer numbers and intensity of the last 2 days. That being said, we still saw an awesome shark breach out of the water and also observed some new behaviour with a male white shark swimming between the cages and the transom of the Nautilus Explorer (which is a very narrow gap).

Great white sharks are considered to have “adaptive intelligence” and learn lessons as they try out new behaviour – a trait which is presumably very useful to an apex predator. Adaptive intelligence seemed to be at work here as this white shark learned that he could “sneak up” on the throw lines without the wranglers on the back deck seeing him. That is, until he brushed up against a sacrificial zinc on the hull of the Nautilus and scratched himself, which in turn seemed to end his experimentation with this new type of behaviour.

Our guests on this trip were from the United States and the UK and they seemed to be very, very pleased with the experience. I did notice some “blue lips” and “shivers” after 3 days of cage time in 70˚F water. But I also noticed that our 104˚F hot tub complete with curb-side bar service seemed to be very popular with everyone (the Nautilus record remains at 13 guests at one time!).

To recap, sightings on Day 1 included Rocket (M), Chicka (F), Mystery (F), Cory (M), Shredder (M), Dori (F), Squire (M), and a new juvenile that I am hoping will be named Charlie (F). Day 2 sightings included Cory (M), Bite Face (M), Charlie (F), Chicka (F), Squire (M). Our records for Day 3 are not yet complete but sightings included Squire (M), an unidentified male, an unidentified female. and Shredder (M).

We started the season with confirmed identification of 112 sharks but I would guess that we will likely end up with 150 or more IDed by November. Interesting to note that while “Bruce” used to visit us at least once a day last year and seemed to be around all the time, we have barely seen him this season. Also interesting to note that the big unidentified female that we saw today was badly scratched with fresh wounds on her snout and the top of her head. We are guessing that she attacked a northern elephant seal who managed to fight back – we haven’t heard of any predatory behaviour by the white sharks this season but you have to think that they are interested in the nice, juicy, plump elephant seals on the beach.

It’s somewhat depressing to think that we only have four Guadalupe Island great white shark trips left and that we are close to being wrapped for this season.

–Captain Mike


Weather: Mid-level broken clouds, 5 – 10 knots of winds, very low swell in our anchorage, air temperature mid-70’s.

Water: Water temperature the usual 70˚F, visibility 100 – 125 feet.

By Nautilus Staff

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