Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nautilus Cage Breach - Videos!

Nothing about this is cool, sorry - source.


And this one is from inside that cage.

Not good.
Nautilus Liveaboards are a member of GSD and owner Mike Lever is a friend who genuinely cares and is trying to do the right thing - but I cannot just pretend I haven't seen this.

Once again it appears that Mike is being torpedoed by his own staff.
If you watch at the very beginning, you can discern that some fucking moron trying to emulate the Deep Blue moment (where the diver also had no business being where he was and doing what he did) climbs to the top of the cage and starts gesticulating to, and then manhandles the Shark who then obviously targets him on the second pass - and what follows, including the injuries to the animal, is the direct consequence of that one idiot's gratuitous bravado.
Trip report here.

Katie Yonker who filmed the 2nd video writes,
Allowing people to experience these majestic animals raises awareness that these are calm and curious animals enticed by the scent of tuna, not humans, and has influenced advocacy efforts worldwide. With a set of jaws selling for thousands on the black market, the sharks are also at risk of poaching, which is greatly deterred by the presence of the shark dive boats. 
In going on a trip like this, we all must accept that there is an element of risk to ourselves. 

But incidents like the one in my video are unacceptable...for the sharks. 
As a group of ocean-loving environmentalists, we should not allow this to happen. Whether it's a redesign of the cages, prohibiting "chum bags" in the submersible cages, or ending wrangling, it's time to start a serious conversion about what can be done to better protect the sharks, the divers, and the future of Guadalupe operations.
Totally agree, well said!
It's not about the wrangling that is perfectly OK if conducted properly; it's about recognizing that this is not some kind of "adventure diving for adrenaline seekers" but a product in Mexico's ecotourism industry. If conducted properly, it is a fantastic wildlife encounter, has close to zero ecological footprint and endangers neither the animals nor the tourists - so bloody keep it that way!

Follow the bloody rules - to the letter and in spirit, too!
Put the people into the bloody cages and keep them inside, including their heads, arms, hands and bloody cameras. Abolish the balcony. And when it comes to your staff, you know what to do - theirs is a job, not "fun" = the dive is not about them but for the clients!

End of rant!


Shane Gross said...


I am not going to give you my opinion on what happened, but I do want to talk about what it is like on the boat - perhaps it will lead to appropriate changes.

I went on the Nautilus Belle Amie last year and had a great time despite very poor interactions with the sharks. Granted, I am the dreaded photographer and thought sharks coming within 5 feet of the cage would happen frequently. Nautilus, trying to follow the guidelines to the tee didn't use any surface bait. Spending 3 full days and spending the maximum allowed time in the cage I only had 3 instances of them coming close enough for a photograph. We would look at the boat beside us (maybe a kilometer away) throwing bait from the surface and the sharks were splashing right beside the cage. Guests commented that they had more good interactions each hour than we had the whole trip.

Others onboard had the same experience and thus the pressure was on for the crew to deliver good interactions. That sort of pressure will lead to pushing of boundaries no matter what kind of direction an owner or captain gives.

I give kudos to those trying to follow the letter of the law and I understand nothing is guaranteed with wild encounters. Just wanted to add this so people can understand why divemasters in the cage do these things. Not least of all, tips are give for good interactions, it's a reality.

Shane Gross

DaShark said...

Thanks Shane - yes that's exactly the conundrum operators face.
And I trust you know where we've chosen to stand on it.

BTW as far as I can discern surface baiting is legal - but I guess, and here I'm speculating, it benefits principally those in the surface cages = maybe that's why they didn't do it whilst you were in the submerged cage?
Or were you at the surface too?

Maybe, next time, you may want to consider going a tad tighter with your lens, the more as the viz is consistently stellar?
Yes I know I know, and pigs... :)

Shane Gross said...

A tighter lens helps, but closer is still better so the strobes can kiss them a little bit. As for the rules, they were adamant that baiting on the surface was against them and other boats like the solmar had special permission. There was much confusion about the rules on board as they seem to come from many sources which often conflict with each other.

Nautilus had 3 submersible cages and 2 surface cages which were useless for photography, but it's still amazing to watch the sharks from above. I am used to waiting hours or days for images, but for many on board this was a once in a lifetime thing. Anyway, you get my point!

Thank you!

DaShark said...

I totally get your point!

The question for me as an operator is,
should I tailor my business to the few, perennially unsatisfied high-end photogs, or rather, to the many ordinary punters who just want to experience big Sharks and take home a few GoPro clips along with a couple of trophy t-shirts? :)

Shark Diver said...

To clear up the issue regarding the bait rule. For the last 2 seasons, it's been legal again to use surface bait. For many years the rules didn't permit it, but that was changed when the comprehensive rule book came out last year.

As an aside to Shane, using strobes is actually not legal, one of those rules that don't seem to make sense, but exist.

The problem with submersible cages is that they take away the sharks from the surface cages, that's why Shane says they are useless for photography. We only use surface cages and get some awesome photos from them. The lighting is much better than down deeper and seeing the reflections of the shark on the water surface makes for some great photos. Also you get more action shots of the sharks breaking the surface.

I'm not against the use of submersible cages, but for various reasons, safety being one of them, we choose not to use them.