Four years ago, I was preparing to go to Guadalupe Island in Mexico to cage dive with the 400 plus Great White Sharks that congregate there from summer through mid-autumn. I did not realize it at the time, but it was my final organized diving adventure before hanging up my fins for good.
It was a 180-nautical mile boat ride from Ensenada, Mexico, to our anchorage at Guadalupe Island, where we would spend four days. It was a fantastic experience, more than living up to the hype it received in dive circles, particularly because of a viral video that burned up the internet a week before we left.
The video showed the “unlimited” cage at the boat’s stern, where divers and even snorkelers could jump in as often as they liked. The cage was secured to the dive boat’s stern from sunrise to sunset, just feet away from where a crewmember was throwing hunks of roped frozen tuna into the water to lure the magnificent beasts closer for dramatic photo ops.
The video caught our attention. It showed a stout, six-foot shark shoot out of the water and land in the opening at the top of the unlimited cage, trapping two divers. Divers eventually enticed the shark out of the cage, freeing the divers before disaster struck in the cramped quarters.
The trip was a resounding success, but one fantastic encounter surpassed all. I was in the starboard cage (in addition to the stern cage, there were also diving cages at the boat’s starboard and port sides), gazing into the transient nothingness at 30-feet when my vision was startled into focus by an unseen sense of implausible energy approaching from the depths. Preceded by a bow wave of rippling water, the shark appeared as if conjured up by an illusionist’s trick, hurtling perfectly upward, deviating not a degree from pure vertical.
The Great White moved so quickly, fully committed with no sense of reservation, that it was difficult to track. Each slight flutter of its tail fin propelled the ton of rough-skinned behemoth faster as it accelerated for the final 50 feet of the attack.
No doubt or hope or thought of future or past dimmed the Great White’s sense of purpose as it ambushed its prey as nature’s perfect creation. The shark broke the surface in a plume of whitewater before vanishing, never to be seen by me again.
The scene lulled me into a feeling of peace, the remnants of the Great White’s attack hanging heavily, slowly decompressing in my silent mind and soul. Witnessing nature in its most uncontaminated state, I stared into the enduring water ahead until vision dissipated in obscurity, thankful for this final gift from the depths.