I have loved sharks, especially whites, since I was a little girl. I have always been drawn to them, fascinated by how mysterious they remain despite the intensive research that’s been done. And I’ve been saddened by the fact that humans kill 100 million sharks every year, often in brutal and wasteful ways like finning, yet the human deaths from shark attacks is in the single digits (and we fear THEM).
When I first heard that staggering number, I knew I needed to act. The great white population appears to be dwindling. These majestic creatures, which can weigh 2 tons, grow to 20+ feet in length, and age to 70 years are prehistoric. As apex predators they have kept our vast oceans balanced. Yet we are destroying them, and therefore, ourselves. That’s why, as a TV news reporter and diver passionate about sharks and conservation, I pitched a story to my TV news station in Los Angeles. I never thought they would take the bait, no pun intended. I begged my bosses to let me do this and help raise awareness for an issue that has both terrified and mystified humanity. After trying to work with several companies, being canceled on due to bad weather, convincing the boss yes this is safe etc, we called upon a special crew and everything fell into place.
My experience aboard the Nautilus Belle Amie was life changing. Diving into 200 foot deep water near Guadalupe Island was daunting, exciting, challenging, but so rewarding. I saw at least one shark every dive (There were 3 dives daily), though once we were circled by 7 white sharks. They were mostly between 12-16 feet. I didn’t feel an iota of nervousness once we were submerged in the cage, about 30 feet below the surface. That’s partly because the crew made me feel so comfortable, but also because you feel this weird sense of peace when you share their habitat with the sharks. The whites aren’t the man killers we all perceive them to be after watching movies like Jaws. They’re cautious predators. They’re curious. And while I could’ve touched some of them because some seemingly came right at me, I never ever felt threatened. Just in awe.
The fellow passengers on this voyage were pretty remarkable too. It was this beautiful convergence of people from diverse, international backgrounds. We had people here from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Mexico, and of course the U.S., some of whom had waited their entire lives for this moment. Others who faced doctor-prescribed terminal illnesses at one point and decided to face their greatest fear. Most expected to see an aggressive great white attack their cage, or do something we have seen in the movies. But they ended up describing this a peaceful, almost meditative experience. And it was.
I would be amiss to not mention the crew, who are absolute rock stars. This was a first class diving trip experience. The food was to die for (3 delicious meals a day with snacks and fresh cookies baked in between), a taco party after an intense second day of diving, hot tub, hot chocolate with baileys served to warm us after our last dive, and housekeeping to keep our cabins clean. They even put chocolate on our pillows. I mean, come on! The captain, first mate, chef, and amazing crew were attentive to our needs, knew everyone’s name within the first moments of us boarding, constantly made sure we were happy and all our needs were met.
Perhaps even more importantly, they taught us about conservation and how education can help great whites thrive. We spent a night identifying the different white sharks. So far 172 have been identified around the island, and everyday they’re out there, they work to identify more, to help further scientific research for these beautiful creatures.
Overall, there are no words in the English language that suffice to express the magic of this experience. You are one with nature. You learn and see firsthand why great white sharks, the largest predatory fish in the ocean, should be respected, rather than feared.
Our story can be viewed on ktla.com or feel free to email me HYPERLINK “mailto:Christina.firstname.lastname@example.org” Christina.email@example.com for more information.
Powered by Facebook CommentsTags: Guadalupe
Categorised in: Guests
This post was written by Christina Pascucci - KTLA NEWS