Diving With Great White Sharks In Baja

For anyone who still draws a pause when they hear the theme from Jaws, read no further: This is no adventure for the faint of heart. Off the coast of Baja, one can go cage diving with great white sharks at Isla Guadalupe. More than an extreme sport, this activity actually supports shark science. Absolute Adventures-Shark Diver (tel. 888/405-3268, 415/404-6144, or 235-9410 in the U.S.; www.sharkdiver.com) is led by Patric Douglas, an adventure guide who has teamed up with scientists in Baja Mexico and Southern California to fuse ecotourism with research. Dives take place at Isla Guadalupe, a 158-sq.-km (109-sq.-mile) island 242km (150 miles) offshore from the Pacific coast of Mexico, roughly south of San Diego and west/northwest of Punta Eugenia on the Baja California peninsula. Surrounded by deep water, as much as 3,600m (11,808 ft.) between the island and the mainland, the island is home to a stunning array of wildlife, including one of the world's most accessible populations of great white sharks.

The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) occurs naturally in all temperate marine waters and is usually between 3 and 4m (10-13 ft.) long, although it can grow to 6.5m (21 ft.) and weigh over 1,800 kilograms (2 tons). They are among the most feared predators in the world, known for their fearsome sudden attacks. Great whites typically surprise their prey by rushing from below and grasping the victim with a powerful, large bite. If the bite is not fatal, the prey is usually left to weaken or die through blood loss, at which time the white shark returns and consumes its prey. Shark diving allows shark enthusiasts to observe the world of great whites, as well as the array of other marine life in the area, in their natural environment. Absolute Adventures claims to use the largest shark cages in existence -- 4.5 to 9.3 sq. m (50-100 sq. ft) in size -- which are used to create a discernible barrier that the sharks quickly recognize so divers may safely view and photograph the sharks. The four-man shark cages are constructed using high-grade materials and a state-of-the-art fabrication process. The 5-day live-aboard cage-diving expeditions take place on one of their four full-time shark-diving vessels and cost $3,100 per person (all offer air-conditioned staterooms). The program supports large-scale research programs involving researchers from Mexico (Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias del Mar) and University of California-Davis, in Northern California.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.