Breaching Great Whites and enchanted underwater forests

Location: Isla Guadalupe and San Benitos, Mexico
Our final day of diving with the Great Whites for this trip was by far the most adrenaline packed and intense of the three days. It was just one of those days when you know from early on that its gonna be a great day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, with the sea like a mirror, a cloudless sky, and the water so blue and clear the view from the deck was almost as good as the view from the cages. Besides for the weather, the first indication of things to come were two full breaches by a white shark, both within a couple hundred feet of the Nautilus, and both before 8:00 am! That was followed shortly by a pod of dolphins cruising by within sight of the cages, and a Guadalupe fur seal who ventured out from shore to perform for a short time in front of the cages. Our hero for the day however showed up shortly after 8:30 am and did not leave until we weighed anchor that evening. The 5 metre female Chicka absolutely dominated the day, providing us with face-to-face encounters and the closest passes we had seen thus far in the season. Several other male sharks were within sight also, but didn’t dare come too close with Chicka on patrol. On several occasions she made direct runs towards a cage, before veering off only a few feet before bumping us. Throughout the day she was cruising by the cages close enough to touch at times, although we were smart enough to keep our limbs inside the cages! In late afternoon Chicka did decide to let us know who was in charge by giving one of the submersible cages a small bump. The visibility today was great at around 150 ft, and with huge schools of mackerel under the boat, parting in uniform fashion as a shark would swim through, the view was always breathtaking. An amazing day of white shark diving, full of adrenaline rushes and huge smiles from everyone onboard. At around 1700 we weighed anchor and headed ESE for the overnight run to the islands of San Benitos, approximately 35 miles from the closest point on mainland Baja California. San Benitos is home to a large population of California Sea lions, Elephant seals and fur seals. It also boasts some of the healthiest and most beautiful kelp forests to be found anywhere. Day one offered some good dives, although visibility was not as good as we had hoped for, at around 50 ft, stirred up somewhat from an incoming swell. We still enjoyed some great sealion interaction and some of the smaller kelp patches.
Day two we moved to a different area of Benitos, and explored two amazing dive sites with perfect conditions. Today the water was a deep blue and visibility reached 100 ft. An amazing kelp forest along the north side of one of the islands was teeming with sea lions and fur seals, and was so thick in places it was like entering into an underwater rain forest, with a thick canopy overhead blocking out the sun, beautiful blue water in the background from where you entered, shafts of sunlight penetrating the darkness in places, and sealions darting in and around the lines of kelp stretching up to the surface. Bat rays, yellow-fin tuna, and large schools of smaller fish could also be seen swimming through the underwater forest. One of the most magical places I have ever dived, it was truly like entering a different world. Even better, no other dive vessels, no other divers, only us and a few local fisherman who stay here to fish. A rare thing these days to find such amazing divesites so untouched and pristine.
A great week of contrasting diving, experiencing the rush and thrill of encountering a Great White shark, followed by enchanting dives through an underwater forest.  Captain Gordon
Weather: Winds light, sea conditions calm.
Water: Visibility 50-100 ft, water temp. 74 f, skies clear and sunny

By Nautilus Staff

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