Now that my buddies at Huckberry have blogged about the Farallon Islands I feel compelled to reflect upon my time there. I usually make it out at least once a year, but for 3 months in the fall of 2006 I spent 3 days a week going out with an ecotourism company in the attempt to share the experience of seeing white sharks in the wild and capture some footage. Upon first approaching the islands I felt like I was in the movie King Kong and that Skull Island had mysteriously emerged from the fog. This place doesn't like people. Next to the continental shelf, these jagged islans seemingly rise up out of nowhere to wreck unsuspecting ships. And as far as prehistoric animals go...well, they are actually present. The white shark, descendant of megaladon, is nearly unchanged other than its size from its original version hundreds of millions of years ago (picture a 50 foot white shark that fed on whales). Today, some of the largest white sharks known to be alive hang out at the Farallones to hunt some of the largest prey you can imagine...elephant seals.
Also named, 'Devil's Teeth', Susan Casey's book, while possibly taking a few liberties, is an entertaining way to catch yourself up on the history of these islands and white sharks. You may also view a short film I created documenting the 2006 season at the islands here.
If you've been following the debate over the controversial methods used by the crew of 'Expedition: Great White' (now called 'Shark Men') I invite you to focus your attention to one aspect of this issue. After analyzing the risks, whether real or implied, what type of newly gained information from the research would justify these risks, in your opinion?
Here's a video to catch you up on what's been happening. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/iteam&id=8136819
A popular question around San Francisco is “Are there sharks in the bay?” A quick visit to any pier will often reveal fishermen pulling in bottom-feeding sharks such as the beautiful Leopard Shark and other harmless species.
I received my first hate mail from someone chastising me for chumming and using bait at the Farallon Islands. Well, I personally don’t chum at all, and no one chums at the Farallon Islands due to regulations that exist in this marine sanctuary. Any footage of mine which shows chumming or bait was taken while on board any number of ecotourism boats in South Africa. However, this did remind me to blog about what seems to be the new hot topic for city dwelling ‘shark experts’; the evil of chumming and cage diving.
Ever since Anderson Cooper went free diving with Great Whites people have been sending me the link and asking what I think about it. Looks like he did it in ‘Shark Alley’, the same place I did it 2004. I snorkeled and dove on SCUBA, but no sharks came to visit me. Looks like he was fortunate enough to actually have a shark or two around and I have to give him credit for doing such a brave thing.
This morning I was paddle surfing off the shore of Waikiki and a large sea turtle popped his head up next to me taking a look around. He was so chill and so beautiful... his little visit left me smiling in the warm sun.
1. Human population increasing at an alarming rate.
Oh, the glory days of drenching the bay with the blood of majestic animals.
Site of the Richmond whaling station closed in the early 70s
Chopping the bait down to a smaller size. The bait used on this boat is skip jack tuna.
Sometimes the shark will launch itself from the deep in such a stealthy manner that the bait handler does not pull away on time. A small snack for the shark, but hardly a reason to stop eating its normal diet of large, fat rich seals.
First of all, no one, not even Andre Hartman or the guys from ‘Jackass’ are gonna get in the water during a feeding frenzy
The photographer managed to snap this photo just before the turtle ripped him to pieces. Witnesses say the turtle was actually 'smiling' as it tore through the poor diver's flesh.
White Shark Video