Program of the Great White Shark Expedition in Guadalupe, Mexico

EXPEDITION / COURSE IN SHARK BIOLOGY

Great White Shark Expedition in Guadalupe, Mexico
Club Cantamar with Alessandro De Maddalena

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The Expeditions / Courses in Shark Biology in Guadalupe, Mexico, are operated by Club Cantamar. The expeditions are hosted by Professor Alessandro De Maddalena, one of the world’s foremost shark experts. The participants will encounter great white sharks in their habitat and learn about biology, ethology and ecology of these predators. All guests can cage dive as there is no scuba qualification required to use the surface cage (a scuba qualification is required to dive in the special submersible cage). There is space for a maximum of 17 participants. Participants must land at the airport of San Diego, California, USA, and leave from the same airport.

THE HOSTS

Club Cantamar ( www.clubcantamar.com ) is owned by Fernando Aguilar and has been in operation since 1983 in the Sea of Cortez. In 2007 the operation expanded into the liveaboard vessels with two boats, SEA ESCAPE and SOUTHERN SPORT. These two boats have done an average of 15 visits/year to Guadalupe Island, each trip a complete success and several film and documentary crews from BBC, National Geographic, History Channel, etc., and giving continuous support to scientists from all over the world.

Alessandro De Maddalena (Milan, 1970) is one of the world’s foremost shark experts. He’s a researcher, writer, illustrator, photographer and expedition leader. He earned a Master of Natural Science, M.Sc., from the University of Milan. His Thesis was on the presence of the great white shark in the Mediterranean Sea. He is an Adjunct Professor of Vertebrate Zoology for the post-graduate course in Marine Sciences at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy. He’s a collaborator of Apex Shark Expeditions, (South Africa), of Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions (Australia), of Strømsholmen Sjøsportsenter (Norway), and has hosted over 30 expeditions with them. During these expeditions he gives courses in biology of sharks (in South Africa and Australia) and orcas (in Norway). He’s also the curator of the Italian Great White Shark Data Bank, a founding member of the Mediterranean Shark Research Group, a Regional Investigator of the Global Shark Attack File, and an Ambassador of the Undersea Soft Encounter Alliance. He is the author of 20 books on sharks, 35 research reports in peer reviewed scientific journals and 80 articles in popular and professional magazines, published in 17 Nations. He has also given many lectures on shark biology at many universities, museums and diving associations in Europe.

 

 

COST OF THE PACKAGE

The cost includes:

− return transfer by car from San Diego, California, to Ensenada, Mexico,

− 5 day / 4 night trip on boat Sea Escape from Ensenada, Mexico, to Guadalupe, Mexico,

− 4 nights accommodation on the boat,

− observation of great white sharks from the boat and from the cages (2 surface cages available to everyone plus 1 submersible cage available to certified SCUBA divers),

− observation of other animals (seals, whales, dolphins, sea birds),

− course in biology, ethology and ecology of sharks teached by Professor Alessandro De Maddalena,

− all meals, soft and alcoholic drinks (beer and wine in moderate quantities) on board.

NOT INCLUDED: flights to San Diego, return transfer by taxi from San Diego Airport to the hotel, on land accommodation in San Diego for 2 nigths, meals on land, travel insurance, dive gear (rental: US$ 60), visas fees (US$ 14 + US$ 25), port departure fees and natural park fees (US$ 78), gratuities to the boat crew (suggested: US$ 250).

ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival in San Diego, California. Meet with Alessandro De Maddalena at Holyday Inn Express.

Day 2: Pick up at 8:00am at Holiday Inn Express in San Diego. If you decide to stay somewhere else, you MUST be at the lobby of the above hotel no later than 08:15am, in order to join the rest of the group. Land transfer from San Diego to Ensenada by car (1.5 hours). Departure of the ship at noon for 18 hours of navigation from Ensenada to Guadalupe. A late departure will mean that the first day of diving might be lost or cut short.

Day 3: Full day at Guadalupe for shark viewing and diving.

Day 4: Full day at Guadalupe for shark viewing and diving.

Day 5: Half day at Guadalupe for shark viewing and diving. Departure at 03:00pm for 18 hours of navigation from Guadalupe to Ensenada.

Day 6: Arrival in Ensenada at noon. Land transfer from Ensenada to San Diego by car. Arrival in San Diego at 05:00pm approximately, depending on weather conditions while sailing and border crossing delays.

Day 7: Departure from San Diego.

MEETING WITH THE GROUP

Participants will communicate to Alessandro De Maddalena full information about their arrival at San Diego Airport. Please provide flight number, date and time. The taxi from San Diego Airport to the hotel is NOT included. Participants will meet Alessandro De Maddalena and the other participants at their arrival at Holyday Inn Express in San Diego.

COURSE IN BIOLOGY, ETHOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OF SHARKS

The course will be taught by Dott. Alessandro De Maddalena. The lectures will be held at Holyday Inn Express and on board the Sea Escape, for a total of approximately 7 hours of lectures. Every day the lectures are taught in english, french and italian. During the boat trips, Alessandro De Maddalena and the Club Cantamar crew will be available to answer to all participants’ questions as the shark trips are a fundamental part of the course. Course program includes: evolution, classification, identification, size, coloration, morphology, swimming, buoyancy, skin, skeletal system, muscular system, digestive system, respiratory system, circulatory system, nervous system, sensory perception, urogenital system, reproduction, habitat, distribution, movements, mutualism, parasites, predators, social behaviours, predatory strategies, diet, the great white shark, threat to humans, fisheries, utilization, captivity, shark diving, conservation, research.

 

 

OBSERVATION OF GREAT WHITE SHARKS AT ISLA GUADALUPE

Weather permitting, a 5 day / 4 night trip from San Diego, California to Guadalupe, Mexico is planned with Club Cantamar to observe great white sharks near Guadalupe.

Guadalupe is one of the most remote and untouched wildlife destinations in the world today. It lies 160 miles off the coast of Ensenada and has an area of approximately 120 square miles. Its open ocean currents create its famed 30 m water visibility, and its abundance of wildlife make it a truly special and inspiring place. Its red and orange coloured cliffs, large upheavals of solid rock and numerous cinder cones reveal the islands volcanic origins.

Beginning in late December, Guadalupe great white sharks migrate to a vast habitat in the mid-Pacific, diving, at times to 1000 m in an apparent search for food. Referred to by some as “White Shark Cafe”, this habitat has been labelled the Shared Offshore Foraging Area, aka SOFA. Precisely why the apex predators visit SOFA remains a mystery. Based on a study of their diving patterns, some suggest it is to hunt rather than to reproduce. The males arrive back at Guadalupe, at the beginning of July, coinciding with the pupping of the Fur seals. The females arrive several weeks later. Our expedition takes place in an excellent period both for the abundance of white sharks and for the presence of the biggest females. Obviously sightings of great white sharks are not guaranteed, but we have never ran a trip and not seen sharks.

It is usually possible to see other wildlife, especially many species of sea birds, humpback whales, pilot whales, grey whales, blue whales, bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, yellowfin tuna, and shortfin mako sharks.

Our boat, the Sea Escape, is a 34 m aluminum motor vessel built originally by Camcraft as a supply boat for the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico. Later, it was converted into a sport fishing liveaboard and then purchased by Club Cantamar, relocated in Baja California and completely refurbished as a diving liveaboard serving two of the hottest dive spots in the world, Socorro Islands and Guadalupe Island. The HP filling station includes two 15 cfm Ingersol Rand compressor, 6 storage tanks, and Nitrox Membrane. Sea Escape carries aluminum 80’s, steel 100’s and 120’s, for those whose air consumption is high. The spacious living room features a 42” flat screen TV set, DVD player and comfortable sitting space, where you can enjoy the lectures, watch movies, or review your photo shots of the day in our PC station. Dinning tables fit 18 diners and a hot tea / coffee station is open all day and night. There are 9 cabins, each with 2 beds (full size beds and bunk beds), fresh linen, and most cabins have private en-suite toilet and shower.

There are three cages on board: 2 surface cages and 1 submersible cage. We expect to dive for up to 15 hours over the course of the expedition, from 8am until 4-5pm (when the sun hides behind the island). The cages are very safe and comfortable. Each surface cage holds up to 4 divers at a time. Everyone can use the surface cages, no scuba qualification is needed. We have also a submersible drop down cage that is capable of descending to 10 m for an even more unique look at the sharks. This cage holds 4 divers at a time. Diving in the submersible cage is only available to certified divers (PADI open water certificate or equivalent). Divers must show qualification to use the submersible cage. The submersible cage is used under the direct supervision of a divemaster who personally takes each individual guest down with him on a three to one basis and if conditions allow.

Dive gear (wetsuit, hood, booties, mask) can be hired onboard. If you require rental gear, please let us know the list and sizes ahead of time and it will be on board for you. Diving is done with hookah gear and air surface provided, and the submersible cage includes a scuba tank and regulator for safety purposes.If you bring your own dive gear, we recommend wetsuit of 5 or 7 mm. Cameras cannot be hired onboard. Food, soft and alcoholic drinks (beer and wine in moderate quantities) on board are included.

Participants must keep in mind that great white sharks are very dangerous animals, it is therefore necessary to follow carefully the instructions given by the staff, do not stretch out hand or feet from the cage, do not touch the sharks and in general do not make anything that can threaten yours and other persons’ safety. Diving out of the cage with great white sharks is forbidden, and nobody will be allowed to do it.

Please note that all activities are weather dependent. In the remote case that the whole shark trip, or part of it, has to be cancelled because bad weather does not permit it, the participants will receive no refund.

ACCOMMODATION

You’ll need to stay two nights in San Diego, one before and one after the expedition. Accommodation for these two nights is not included in the expedition cost. We suggest the Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport / Old Town, 1955 San Diego Ave., San Diego, California 92110, tel. 619 5431130.

You can book via the hotel website:

https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/san-diego/sannf/hoteldetail

Or you can book via Booking.com

http://www.booking.com/hotel/us/comfort-inn-airport-at-old-town.en-gb.html

If you decide to stay somewhere else, you MUST be at the lobby of the above hotel at 8:00am (and no later than 08:15am) in order to join the rest of the group.

It is important to keep in mind that in USA there are power sockets of type NEMA 5-15. On SEA ESCAPE you will find several European 220V power sockets as well.

EXCHANGE

Automated teller machines where it is possible to withdraw US dollars are available in San Diego, even at the airport. A passport is required to exchange Euros or UK pounds into US dollars. It is suggested to activate the SMS transaction notification service for your card. You will be notified about your transactions in real time that you make on your credit card or bancomat and this will enable you to identify any fraudulent transactions taking place on your card.

MEALS

Food, soft and alcoholic drinks (beer and wine in moderate quantities) on board are included. Meals on land are not included in the cost.

INSURANCE

Please note that travel insurance is not included. We strongly advise you arrange travel / dive insurance. DAN insurance or equivalent is mandatory, as well as travel insurance with full coverage of expenses as in the remote case that a liveaboard trip cancellation occurs, there will be no reimbursement.

PASSPORT AND VISAS

For entering in USA it is necessary to have a valid passport and a visa. However the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when they meet all requirements explained on this website:

http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/visit/visa-waiver-program.html

Please check the above website and apply for ESTA (US$ 14).

Check at the local US Consulate for additional information about visas.

For entering in Mexico it is necessary to have a valid passport and a visa. Please email a copy of your passport prior to the trip. An FMT form, or Mexican tourist visa is necessary (US$ 25), if you fly via Mexico City, it will be supplied on the plane and you must provide a copy of it. If you enter the country via San Diego, you must obtain your FMT at the border crossing in San Ysidro and pay for it (there is a no-cost immigration form that allows you to visit land only for 5 days, but if you are embarking on a ship, this no-cost document is not good). A copy of both documents has to be filed for each passenger boarding the vessel. Please scan and email your passport ahead of time so that we can file the manifest timely and avoid delays.

VACCINATIONS

No vaccination is compulsory to visit USA and Mexico, unless you come from an infected area.

BAGGAGE

Considering the frequent delays in the delivery of the baggages, it is strongly suggested to carry only the hand luggage. Moreover when you embark on your flight, don’t stay near the end of the queue, because if the flight is full, the crew may force you to embark your hand baggage as checked baggage. If once at San Diego airport you find out that your baggage hasn’t arrived, you must go immediately to the undelivered baggage point and you must give the following address for the delivery of your baggage:

Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport / Old Town, 1955 San Diego Ave., San Diego, California 92110, tel. 619 5431130.

TEMPERATURE, WEAR AND EQUIPMENT

During our staying in California and Mexico will be Autumn. The average temperature in October, in San Diego is between 12 and 20°C and in Guadalupe is between 13 and 21°C. Water temperature is between 18 and 24°C around Guadalupe. At sea it can be cold and windy. Weargear for the trips is not provided by the operator. Therefore it is suggested to bring a waterproof jacket to protect from the wind and cold, hooded jumper, long pants, hat (both woolly for potentially chilly evenings and a cap to shade the Mexican rays), glows, boots or other waterproof shoes, sandals (for comfort on deck), swim-suit, wet undersuit, sunscreen. We also recommend that you bring polarized sunglasses. It is suggested to wear in layers, so that if the temperature raises it is possible to uncover gradually. Don’t forget to bring SCUBA certification cards, camera, batteries, adaptors, chargers, passport, dive gear (wetsuit, hood, booties, mask), toiletries (we supply the basics but bring any additional you think you may need).

SEASICKNESS MEDICINE

It is important to prevent sea sickness, because it is frequently reported during these boat trips. We suggest two medicines to prevent sea sickness: Stugeron (cinnarizine) or Dramamine (dimenhydrinate). Stugeron works very well; a tablet taken the night may be sufficient, but if needed it is possible to take a tablet even in the morning (or half tablet the night and half tablet in the morning). Be aware that alcoholic beverages can cause strong sea sickness.

PAYMENT TERMS

A non-refundable deposit of 50% to be paid upon booking. The balance of the monies to be paid by 120 days before the expedition start.

CANCELLATION POLICY

Here the information concerning refund and fee in the case that one of the participants decide to retire from the Expedition / Course in Shark Biology.

– Cancellation 120 days or more before the time of start date: 50% of the fee.

– Cancellation less than 120 days before start date: 100% of the fee.

– No show or late arrival: 100% of the fee.

 

Dates, costs and spots left for all the expeditions are available at this page:
http://www.alessandrodemaddalena.net/uk/expeditionscourses/

 

CONTACTS

E-mail: alessandrodemaddalena@gmail.com
Website: www.alessandrodemaddalena.net
Facebook: www.facebook.com/alessandro.demaddalena.1