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Diving with the Great White

If you poll 10 divers and ask them where to find Great White Sharks chances are they’ll tell you South Africa or Australia. All that changed in 1999 with a new and exciting discovery in the Pacific off the coast of Mexico and California.

The ultimate cage dive adventure is closer than you think…..

For over a 100 years, since whaling times, there have been scattered stories of huge Great White Sharks up and down the Pacific coast of North America and Mexico.

In the 1970’s a rash of shark attacks in Californian waters on surfers caused the public to become aware that something largely unseen but deadly inhabited the same waters.

In the early 80’s researchers discovered that the Farallon Islands and Ano Nuevo Island, off San Francisco and Santa Cruz, held a fascinating secret – large and stable populations of adult great whites were returning year after year to the same spot to feed on Northern Elephant Seals.

The stage was set for the introduction of eco-sensitive white shark cage diving in California at the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary to be headed by a team of dedicated divers and Lawrence Groth.

Lawrence, a California native, developed a passion for the ocean and diving early in life. He has enjoyed a successful career as a commercial diver and professional mariner and has spent most of his life either on or under the water.

In 1997 Lawrence Groth founded Golden Gate Expeditions, a company dedicated to serious divers who seek adventure and challenging experiences in sport diving.

Lawrence pioneered the world’s first cage diving operation at the Gulf of the Farallons, which manages an 86% success rate for divers without the use of chum! Never before in the history of white shark cage diving has this been accomplished.

In 1999 Golden Gate Expeditions partnered with Absolute Adventures, seeking to educate the Globe about newly discovered Pacific White Sharks and successful diver interactions without the use of bio-attractants.

In 1999, after several years of careful research and some luck, Lawrence Groth made his biggest and perhaps most globally important white shark discovery yet … just off the coast of Mexico in crystal clear waters, lies Isla de Guadalupe. Surrounding this island is huge and stable population of Great White Sharks, unknown to the general public until now.

Isla de Guadalupe is a wild, harsh, notorious place. The island is located 200 miles southwest of San Diego and is a scenic and forbidding collection of cinder cones, ridges and dramatic offshore rocks. Guadalupe has long been known as a prime fishing destination for big tuna and other prized game fish.

This remote island is host to a large number of pinnipeds, such as Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga Angustirostris), California Sea Lion (Zalophus Californianus), and Stellar Sea Lion (Eumetopias Jubatus) which inhabit Gudalupe all year.

Some say that the islands remote location was the only reason that these species were not hunted into extinction long ago. Thankfully fur traders were unaware of the island’s existence and therefore it provided a secret sanctuary for these animals.

Golden Gate Expeditions and Absolute Adventures offer 5-day expeditions to this island to view this pristine and untouched site.

In less than 3 years it was established that Great Whites have a large and valuable presence in Pacific waters. We now have three known areas where the sharks congregate year after year and are able to be viewed with relative ease by interested divers and researchers.

This recent discovery in Mexico is the most exciting yet. The established goal of this new site is careful cage diver interactions and research, calling upon the Mexican government and Stanford Universities pelagic satellite tag program to uncover more about the once secretive world of Pacific Great White Sharks.

Typically we see up to six great whites at one time circling our cages, the action reaches a peak at sunset as we set up for night dive operations with these impressive undersea predators. To date our operations are the only ones on the planet to feature night diving with great whites, an experience that will change the way you think of diving forever.

Isla de Guadalupe is the last pristine hold-out for Pacific Great White, it’s discovery and relative ease in which divers can view these animals in 100ft visibility will change the common notion these amazing creatures primarily live in South African or Australian waters.

Recent tag data suggests that these animals also migrate each year to, of all places, Hawaii. What they are doing there and exactly where they migrate to is another mystery that Golden Gate Expeditions and Absolute Adventures are seeking to uncover and report to you about in 2004!

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