As far as Guadalupe is concerened, to be honest I’m still processing the experience. It has continued to ring like a chord in my mind that I had never heard before and will probably never hear again.

Before we even got to Guadalupe, there was a stopoff at San Benito Island that was just as rewarding. Swimming with fur seals that weren’t used to divers, being allowed to swim right up to them, stare into their eyes and watch as two mammals take the most primal of steps to build a bond with one another…it was so amazing. By the time we wrapped shooting and began to snorkel back to the boat, they had obviously made the decision to allow the pups to play with us. Under the watchful eye of a female chaperone, they danced around us like children at playground. That I had gained the level of trust I did through the adults of the colony is one of the proudest moments of my life. I held onto the look in their eyes. I still do.
For the rest of my days on earth, I will never be able to fully articulate what it’s like to be inches away from a great white shark, with no steel bars between you and the animal. It is an encounter so overwhelming that you have to be there to truly understand.What I can tell you is that it was a deeply spiritual thing. When the first shark appeared out of the gloom and into my view, I was hit with a feeling I wasn’t prepared for. But looking back, I realized I could never, ever have prepared. I had – and have – no reference point emotionally. I’ve played in bands to audiences of 30,000, I’ve witnessed the birth of my son, moments that stay with you for lifetimes afterwards but this…this touched a place I didn’t know existed. When I got back to the boat I was literally stunned into silence; I literally could not be around other people for hours. I just sat by myself. It was a frustrated euphoria; as I looked out at the ocean, I couldn’t even think words. I was silent mentally, emotionally, and literally. All I could do was weep uncontrollably, and did for about 20 minutes. I’m still not quite sure why I did, but I do know that it came from a pure and wonderful place.Based on the time spent with marine biologists who have been studying Guadalupe’s white shark population for years, the experiences of the crew of the Nautilus Explorer and what I was able to witness with my own eyes, it is clear to me that these are animals that are far more intelligent and developed than previously thought. They have a highly complex and intricate social structure that is based as much on gender as it is sheer size. It was clear that as they circled the cages endlessly that they take in everything around them, studying the bubblemakers in the water as much as we were studying them. The transmission of data was never a one-way street. Many times the line between subject and student was blurred and I felt like I was the animal in the cage, not the sharks. I was, actually. Or at least standing on top of it. These are sentient beings with problem-solving skills and a pecking order amongst themselves. I felt like I had been let into a social circle, a fully-functioning city ruled by the greatest marine predator on earth.To put it simply, the honor was mine. Not theirs.
Like any of the other expeditions we’ve gone on this year, the Guadalupe trip on the Nautilus Explorer isn’t out of anyone’s reach. There were a pair on 8 and 11-year old brother on board with their grandmother. It’s not unthinkable. But I do know that even though it’s an open invitation, I stand as one of the few people on this planet that will ever see these animals – whether at San Benito or Guadalupe or otherwise – face to face, in the flesh. I consider it a privilege beyond all measure, and it’s my pleasure to share it with you via an episode of television.
Special thanks to Randy of Liquid Assets for providing this blog. Check out their latest adventures at  Into The Drink.

By Nautilus Staff

Updates, exciting information and other news from the staff at Nautilus Liveaboards.

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