Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 Guadalupe Season Completed Home for CRUSH!

What perfect timing, to return home after a tremendously successful Guadalupe Island white shark season just in time for crush at the Groth Vineyards. It was a very long night that turned into a very beautiful day.
I arrived home to the San Francisco Bay Area at 6 am after a long drive from Ensenada/San Diego.
We had spent the last two days demobilizing the Solmar V and getting her and her crew on their way back home to Cabo. Then getting all of our gear back into storage in San Diego. Loaded up the SPSC in the mobile support trailer and headed north for a 2 week filming expedition at the Farallon Islands.

It was great to be home and specially in time for crush at the Groth Winery!


I had not been home for 4 months and I had really missed everybody. It was great to see my mom and sister Lori and cousins Suzanne and Andrew and of course my son Jake.



Mom, Judy, Suzanne, Lori Groth

Dennis Groth " The Godfather" and Bill Groth


Jake Lori and Bill


Me and son Jake




Crush is a very busy time at the winery and work starts early at 1am to harvest the fruit while it is cool.


This my Shark Fans is the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve starting on its way to become the finest California Cab to found on the market. Groth Cab Reserve is one of the most award winning California wines in history!


It always fun to be drinking nice refreshing Sauvignon Blanc while we watch the crush happening! 



Lori and Suzanne Groth






Just one of the 3 fermentation tank rooms. Groth can produce 600 tons of fruit per crush.








My Boy!


Bro and sister


Me and sister Lori






Nice lunch at Bottega in Napa


Good and Happy times!

It is good to be home but I already miss my sharks.

But I will be at the Farallons starting 10/27 and then back to Guadalupe on November 27th for a 15 day film shoot. So stay tuned!

May the sharks be with you all





Read more...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LIVING THE DREAM


After 150 trips to Isla Guadalupe over the last eight years, you might think that I might be getting tired of it. Well I am not. Hell NO! Deep down I still love it all and I am still thrilled each and every day that I am out there. I am indeed grateful to be “Living the dream”.



However there have been days when I wondered WTF am I doing this for, and those days are pretty much in the past now. With the Navy issue out of the way for the time being and most probably for good (but you never know when working in Mexico), now there are just little annoyances occasionally but with the 2010 season pretty much in the history books, the little things just don’t seem to matter much anymore. There still is lots of work to be done and battles to be fought, but the tide of the war has definitely turned in our favor and we now have the upper hand on things.  Most people just have no idea what goes on behind the scenes with permit issues and having to deal with inept officials that make ridiculous decisions based on rumors and hear say. It is extremely difficult working in a third world country and the bureaucracy is absolutely stifling at times. People have no idea how many hoops we must jump through to keep this whole thing running or even in existence for that matter.  But we do it and we will keep up the fight and we will never quit.



Having had this amazing opportunity to share these incredible animals with so many people over the years has been very rewarding for me on a personal level.
It still makes my day when I am able to coax a first time diver into the water and watch them blow their first bubbles. That is something that I truly enjoy. Those little things are what makes it all worth it. Seeing the smiles on the faces of divers coming out of the cage after their first encounter with white sharks is still priceless to me.  What is really cool is that on most trips nearly half of our guests are repeat clients, some of which have made the journey with us several times. We have created a unique and special relationship with our guests and we have all become one big extended family. We share a bond that is hard to explain. It is so wonderful to have met so many different people from all walks of life who share a passion and common interest in such a special animal. To many the experience has been life changing and that is what keeps us going.



I truly am honored to have had the opportunity to work with the Solmar V and her awesome crew. It has been such a pleasure and we have all become close like brothers over the years. We are hands down the best White Shark diving operation in the world and I am very proud and confident in making that statement. No one else has the amount of experience as we have or the amount of success that we have had.  We are so successful because we work very well together and we keep an open mind about every aspect of our operation. Every season and every trip we learn something new and we take what we have learned and we make improvements and that keeps our operation fresh and leaves our competition in the dust. We continue to lead the way as we always have with new technology and new techniques and that is what makes us the best white shark diving operation in the world.



Thank you to all of our “Shark Fans”. We are looking forward to the next 150 trips.
Stay tuned for some very exciting news! We will be making an important announcement in the very near future.
Thank you Dean Karr for these recent and most precious images.



Read more...

Friday, October 8, 2010

8 years and 149 trips to Isla Guadalupe and still 100%

I am approaching another milestone in my career as a shark diving operator. I am departing shortly for my 150th expedition to Isla Guadalupe.  It has been a long and rewarding adventure for me. I have many fine people and friends to thank for supporting me. It is impossible to show the gratitude that I feel towards so many of my friends and family here in this blog but.
One person in particular that I need to thank the most is Kat Fisher.
 Thank you Kat for the many years of support and your patience.


I must thank James Moskito my partner for being the honorable, dependable and trustworthy man that he is.  James you ROCK!


I also wish to thank Art Taylor for the seven wonderful seasons we had on the Searcher and for giving us the opportunity to get Guadalupe on the map as the best white shark diving location on the planet.

I want to thank Jose Luis Sanchez and his lovely wife Leslie and the entire Solmar V organization specially the boat crew for 6 awesome seasons so far and still going strong.

Thank you to all of our "Shark Fans" that keep coming back and also for spreading the good word for sharks and the company.

MUCHAS GRACIAS AMIGOS!

May the sharks be with you all always.

Yours in sharks,
Lawrence


Here is a kiss from Cal Ripfin   MUAH!


video




Read more...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shark Diving International Hosts Mega Yacht APOGEE at Guadalupe


We received a phone call last July from the Captain of a mega yacht that had been hearing cool stories about the white sharks at Guadalupe. He stated that he had asked around for the best operator with the best reputation and everyone he spoke to recommended us as the hands down best operator in North America. Thank you to all of our Shark Fans once again!


So now we are 



Apogee's first-class amenities turn even the most remote destination into a five-star resort. This yacht offers a complete range of watersport activities, including water skiing, fishing, snorkeling, and even scuba diving. Rich mahogany warms the main salon, setting the tone for Apogee's classic elegance. In addition to its sweeping circular staircase, the main foyer includes an elevator that links all five decks. Much larger than ordinary skylounge and completely outfitted in magnificently crafted mahogany, burl mahogany and rosewood the bridge-deck saloon is a leisure destination unto itself. It features a 22-foot-long backlit onyx-topped bar modeled after Monaco's Cafe de Paris and Miami's Delano Hotel, a Wurlitzer jukebox and a spacious adjacent aft terrace complete the package. A crew of 17 awaits - one of the highest crew-to-guest ratios in the industry.












COMMUNICATIONS
Sat B, Fleet 77, Mini-M, GSM, High speed internet access

AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT & DECK FACILITIES
Plasma & LCD TV/DVD/VCR throughout yacht, SatT.V., Bose Surround Sound, Wurlitzer Jukebox, Karaoke

Apogee is a beautiful vessel with a great crew who were a pleasure to work with and dive with. It was pretty funny seeing these boys get an opportunity to dive with whitey when the guests were having lunch. 
Thanks for the good times Flash, Chris and Bert! aka "Ray Charles".


We were able to make tis happen on very short  notice which was a feet in itself when permits usually take months to prepare but it all worked out and the guests and crew had the time of their lives and hope to return again someday. Thanks to our own Bobby and Don for helping out.

We are heading out again today with one of our all time favorite Shark Fans DEAN KARR.
So we know it is going to be an awesome trip with some really fun and cool peeps.

May the sharks be with you all!

Yours in sharks,
Lawrence 

Read more...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

SHARKS ALL DAY EVERYDAY

The 2010 White Shark Season has been just incredible so far!
We have been out at Guadalupe on the Solmar V for 8 trips this season so far and they just keep getting better. The action has been nonstop and the sharks very cooperative. The Shark Fans have been outstanding and we have been enjoying a stellar season with some fantastic people.



Here is a little note from some of our newest family members.

Hi!

I just wanted to send an extra "Thank You!" to Lawrence, Kat, the Solmar V crew, James and anyone else who had a part in making our trip to Guadalupe Island from Sept. 6-10 so wonderful.

This trip was so much more than I ever expected!  Lawrence and Kat made sure everything went as planned.  The crew made us feel so at home.  And James made sure we had our dive gear on time from Dive California.

This was a true "once in a lifetime" experience.  I have always had a passion and fascination with sharks, especially white sharks.  So, I was going to be satisfied if we only saw one shark  the entire trip.  Little did I know that we would see multiple sharks all day every day!!  It was absolutely exhilarating!!  

Thank you all again for making this trip (and our anniversary) such a wonderful experience!!!  We are already researching other trips with you all.

Best regards,

Christy and Chris Cole
Birmingham, AL






You are quite welcome you two love birds! :)


With all the sharky action and cool shark fans like these fine folks who could ask for anything more?




The weather has been very cooperative with relatively smooth crossings and sunny days at the island.



The sharks are plentiful and still very hungry. But there is still plenty of shark food at the island, there are hundreds of fur seal pups all around the island and the tuna are thick and seen from the cages nearly everyday. The Elephant seals numbers are increasing steadily as well. YUM!




Photos by Erick Higuera (Somar V )




Thank you! to all of our friends for making this an epic year for us and we look forward to having you back again soon!


I wish I had more time to write but I have to get ready for the next departure in a few hours.


May the sharks be with you all!


Yours in sharks,
Lawrence

Read more...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Battle Ground Great White The Combat Has Begun

Every year these incredible animals amaze me with not only their power but their resilience. The combat has begun at Isla Guadalupe. The arrival of another female white shark (possibly a brand new female) seems to have touched off a war between several male sharks at the island. On Monday Jacque a rather large male GWS was fine at 12:30 and he showed back up at the boat at 13:30 with some fresh nasty bite marks on his back.
 Then a few minutes later two other males arrived at the boat with fresh bleeding wounds. Somewhere below a bloody battle had occurred. We have been documenting these wounds on the male white sharks every August and early September for the last several years (photos/video coming soon). Some of these bite marks look to be very severe but the sharks still swim normally and seem to be unaffected by them in fact they seem to be even more energetic and hungry. What is the most amazing thing is that how fast they heal. Most of the bites that we have seen in the past are healed in just a few weeks and some have completely disappeared leaving no scars at all.

The rest of the day was nothing less than EPIC!


The action was intense!



These BAD BOYS were hungry!



We had 2 full body breaches at the bow of the boat where there was NO cameras of course but those who saw them were just blown away and some even got wet :)



Images By Crew Solmar V crew member  Francisco "Poncho" Garciglia

So we are off once again, departing Ensenada for trip #6 in a few hours to return to the combat zone.
This season is going to be one for the record books I am sure. So stay tuned, things are starting to get interesting!

Yours in sharks,
Lawrence

Read more...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Isla Guadalupe Shark Season in FULL SWING!


With trips #3 and #4 now complete, I can say that we are now in FULL SWING and the action has been non stop. With the arrival of Zapata (Bruce) on trip #4 everything just got crazy!
Zapata is definitely hands down one of the Tres Grandes Tiburones at Isla Guadalupe.


Zapata is a legendary player and favorite to many of us at the island. Even being so large and healthy, I'm sure he must have had an unfortunate encounter with a shark bigger than almost put him out of the game. Zapata is 14 feet long and my best guess would be that the shark that bit him twice from below and across his throat must have been considerably larger possibly 18 to 20 feet long. The wound extends from his right side lower gill area all the way across to his left jaw line. Although the wound looks horrible and must be painful we have seen wounds like this before on other sharks and they heal amazingly fast. I am sure he will be just fine in a few weeks.


These wounds on the larger males are results from epic battles with other huge mature white sharks.
This male on male combat would be just incredible to see and has never been documented.. YET!

However Zapata has also had a run in with the "Expedition Great White" Tag Team and has a transmitter bolted on his dorsal fin. He even has an acoustic tag on his lower left dorsal area.



So we are off once again and I have to go. I wish I had more time to write.

I will be back in 5 days and will try to give a more detailed report then.

We had 15 sharks over the 3 days at IG and we had our first breach!
May the Sharks Be With You!

Yours in sharks,
Lawrence and Erick

Read more...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

2010 Trip #2 Another Awesome Expedition #140 and still 100%



Just back in from trip #2 of 14 for the 2010 season and our 140th to Guadalupe Island.



CAL RIPFIN was once again the star of the show. Cal has to be the coolest White Shark ever!
This handsome brute is the most cooperative white shark I have ever seen, and I know quite a few.
Cal just loves to hang around and pose for photos and video. He is always calm, cool and easy going.
He and 14 of his buddies (all males still) enjoyed the clear blue water and bright sunshine with us for 3 full days.




Jacque was also there the entire trip. Jacque named by our dear friend Eric Cheng is also a real player and kept the divers busy going through flash cards, video tape and batteries the entire stay at the island. However Jacque apparently had the misfortune of encountering the "Expedition Great White" (EGW) crew last winter and is now sporting a heavy SPOT tag on his dorsal fin. Poor Jacque already has had multiple PAT tags over the years and has a great deal of marine growth on the leaders left behind from those tags. I think that is a crime to put these incredible animals through this time and time again in the name of research. How many times do these same animals need to be tagged??? We also noticed that Jacque has suffered an injury to his left eye. I can't help but suspect that it most probably occurred when he was Hooked, towed for miles, and "After His Will was Broken" lifted out of the water by the EGW crew and 4 holes drilled and had the SPOT tag bolted on. WTF!! Poor Jacque......




We are heading back out shortly so I have to run. Ill be back in 5 days with the next report.

Word from ABC4, was that they have found a dead whale near KZN and will be towing it out to sea and watch what happens. Sounds pretty stinky but should be pretty cool! Good luck buddy!

Yours in sharks,
Lawrence

Read more...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2010 Isla Guadalupe White Shark Season Begins


Greetings Shark Fans
Sorry for my prolonged absence as I have been litteraly on the move for the last 6 weeks.
I am currently in port in Ensenada on board the Solmar V preparing to depart for Isla Guadalupe for the second of 14 trips.

Our first trip to Guadalupe was nothing short of EPIC! We had 12 individual white sharks over the 3 days at the island. That would be a record for the first trip of the season. All males as expected and they were very active throughout the trip. The first shark arrived only 20 minutes after arriving at the island and Cal Ripfin arrived after only 2 hours. Cal did not show up until late September last year and had us all worried.


Cal looks GREAT! He is still gaining weight and appears to be in excellent condition. For those who have not had the priviledge of meeting Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) he is one of the most famous white sharks in the world. I met Cal Ripfin back in 2002 and have seen him at the island every season for the last 9 seasons now. He is truly one of the greatest "Players" in the shark world. He hangs around the boat for hours at a time and loves to swim close to the cages and he even swings by the submersible cage and HI 5"S the dive masters. He is the Coolest Shark in the World! Sorry Emma.... (Jimmy's fav Tiger shark)

The weather was fantastic providing us with a very smooth crossing. At the island, morning clouds cleared to bright warm sunshine and we enjoyed just a slight breeze to keep us comfortable. August can be blistering hot at Isla Guadalupe. The water conditions were ideal with a temperature of 65-67 and 80' of visibility.

We were boarded twice by the Mexican Navy and all of our documentation were inspected and approved.

Never a dull moment down there!

I will be back in 5 days to bring you another Shark Action Report.


Photos by Kat Fisher

Team update:
ABC4 just arrived back in Cape Town SA. Congrats to ABC4  for scoring #5 of ALL TIME, Shark Week Show with his "Into the Shark Bite" show. He also just signed a new contract with NAT GEO! Keep it up Bro!

Mary O'Malley is currently also in S Africa finishing up a extended Sardine Run Expedition

Bobby Mc Nerney is preparing for an expedition to Tonga and will be joining us back at Guadalupe soon.

Erick Higuera is on board the Solmar V


STAY TUNED!

May the Sharks be with you!

Yours in sharks,
Lawrence

Read more...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Juvenile White Shark Project Gets Underway in So Cal

The Shark is out of the bag!


We have been operating in the Los Angeles area over the past few weeks preparing for an epic film project. We are here on a mission, to film and document Juvenile White Shark behavior in the wild. 


Over the past few weeks I have been busy meeting with many local law enforcement and other government officials in preparation for this project. Getting everyone "In the Loop" and notifying the local agencies of what our plans and intentions was very important to me and indeed very fruitful. I believe that it is very important to meet face to face with the right authorities and local people and show your respect when taking on a major project such as this. I was pleasantly surprised by the reception I received and how helpful everyone was. They all appreciated the fact that I had the politeness and forethought to contact them before I started my project.


One of the contingencies for having the cooperation I asked for from these government agencies was that we kept a "low profile" and not stirred up any unwarranted attention from the media or concerns from local residents . I of course had no problem with that issue and have been publicly quiet about my project.


Well, now that the media has gone nuts over some recent sightings here and the local residents are now "warned" about the arrival and subsequent sightings of these White Sharks, we are now able to share our story with all of you.


Surfers Warned After Shark Spotted Off Malibu Coast




KTLA VIDEO HERE


From the Shark Research Committee site:

Sunset Beach  —   On June 27, 2010 Scott at SunsetSurf received the following report from Agam Singh; “Shark sighting: 7 – 8 foot White Shark fully breached about 200 yards off the point around 3:00 PM, Sunday, June 27th. At least 5 people saw it and kept surfing. I bailed!”




Our Juvenile White Shark Project has been in the planning stages since March of this year.
We arrived in LA in mid June and began staging equipment and vessels in strategic locations around Southern California. Our base of operations is located in beautiful Malibu, CA. In total we have 4 vessels and several shoreside bases. We have a great communications network set up between multiple vessels and shoreside observation posts from North to South along the coast. 


                                                We are geared up and ready for action!






We will be open water diving with our two CUDA 850 Scooter/ HD video camera rigs. These slick little units are stable, fast, quiet and maneuverable. In the above configuration we can cover large areas in a short period of time. In the event we would want to have extended range and cover huge distances we can simply add additional batteries and increase our range to over 10 miles. However I have designed and built a Twin 850 configuration that combines both scooters into one ultra fast, ultra long range machine which I call the "Super Max 1700". This very cool "one of a kind" unit is capable of over 8 knots and has a range of approximately 28 miles. Utilizing a closed circuit rebreather, I can make dives below 100 feet and stay submerged for over 3 hours. To put that into perspective, I would be able to travel submerged from one end of Catalina Island to the other or actually travel (utilizing specially designed navigation instruments) from the North end of Catalina Island to Santa Barbara Island, non stop. HOW COOL IS THAT? :)~




So stay tuned for some exciting reports from us as we embark on this latest adventure!


Enjoy the 4th of July and Ill see you next week!


Yours in sharks,
Lawrence





Read more...

Hawaii Celebrating New Shark Fin Ban Legislation

The state of Hawaii is celebrating its brand new "Shark Fin Ban" legislation that took effect on July 1.

Kelly Hu

"I'm here to encourage other Asian Americans to help end the demand by talking, blogging and tweeting about this bill and encouraging their friends to support the bills in their areas prohibiting the sale and possession of shark fins as we have here," said Kelly Hu.  "The way to stop shark finning all together is to stop the demand for the product."


I would like to send out a BIG THANK YOU! to my good friend Mike Shutello for recruiting the very talented and lovely Kelly Hu to join our conservation efforts in both Hawaii and California.

Read the full story here:

Read more...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mantas Sharks and Boobies at the Revillagegidos

                                                            Giant Pacific Manta Ray


I have just returned from an amazing trip on the Solmar V to the Revillagegidos Islands.
We spent 9 days navigating and exploring the very special archipelago consisting of Isla San Benidicto, Isla Socorro and Roca Pardida.
 Being in the best place in the world to dive with giant Manta Rays we were definitely not disappointed.
Conditions were good with 70 to 80 feet of visibility and clear sunny skies.



                                                                 Isla San Benidicto

These volcanic islands not only provide very dramatic vistas above the surface but even more incredible bottom topography with bizarre rock formations, boulder fields and deep canyons. Being located in open pelagic waters these islands are surrounded by strong currents that attract a very rich and diverse ecosystem.

   Like a pile of puppies, these White tip Reef sharks sleep on ledges in the walls of Roca Partida

Many species of sharks are found here such as Hammerheads, Silky, Black tip, White Tip, Galapagos,
Whale sharks and the occasional Tiger shark.
However the main attraction for most divers are the friendly Manta Rays.

There is a huge population of these very social and intelligent creatures with the highest concentration found at Isla San Benidicto.




Manta Rays actually seem to enjoy the company of most divers. They will approach divers and pose for photos. They are also known to enjoy a divers bubbles and position themselves right above the diver to get a belly bubble massage. It is quite common to have several Mantas soaring around and through the entire group of divers. If you are really lucky you can be in the right place to watch them feed. They will find a cloud of plankton and begin to loop around and around with their mouths wide open scooping up thousands of microscopic critters. These beautiful creatures are hands down one of the most graceful animals on this planet. They normally seem to just soar like giant birds in the sky but they can also attain great speeds in short bursts. This speed and maneuverability is there only defense against predators.

                              Manta Ray with a school of Big Eyed Jacks in tight formation.

The Revillagegidos archipelago is also a very important sea bird nesting area. The dominant bird species being the Brown Boobie. These Boobies are also very social and seem to be genuinely interested in all the "goings on" the boat and below the surface. They will line the handrails all around the boat watching all the activities topside and then they will also be floating on the surface of the water holding there heads underwater looking down at all of the subsea action. It is really funny to look up at the surface and see all of these eyes and beaks looking down at you. At one point during a safety stop I had 15 little faces looking down and intently watching me decompressing. You just have to laugh, it is really funny to be under such intense scrutiny from these expert flying/divers.


Brown Boobie

The only low point of the trip was finding an illegal fishing vessel laying out 6 miles of long line only 4 miles from Isla San Benidicto. The Solmar V owner Jose Luis Sanchez and the captain decided that we should go out and try to stop or at least document the poaching infraction. We sent the pangas out with the passenger/divers to continue normal operations and then set out to intercept the poacher vessel. We located the marker out at one end of the long line and followed all the way to the fishing vessel. When we got within a mile of the vessel the poachers dropped the line and sped away. We gave chase and caught up them after a 45 minute pursuit. Eventually we were able to contact the captain of the poacher vessel and explained to him that he was fishing in protected waters and that we were going to report his activities to the authorities (Mexican Navy). The offending captain gave us some BS story that he as hungover and had passed out and was not under command of his ship and that his crew had mistakingly set the line within the boundaries of the reserve. He then stated that he would remove the line and leave the protected area.
We decided to document the event with video and photos and allow him to remove the gear and depart.
However he refused to remove the gear until we left the area. He did not want us to film him catching any sharks apparently. We decided that it would be better to get the line out of the water than to stay there and argue with this sorry excuse for a captain.
Besides it was getting dark and we had divers still out on the pangas. So we left him to recover the gear unobserved. We could see that indeed he followed the line all the way back to the first bouy and then disappeared over the horizon. The protected area extends out only 12 miles from the islands. However this vessel was only 4 miles from the island. We have sent our photos and video of the incident to the Mexican Navy command in Cabo San Lucas. However I doubt that there will be much follow up regarding this case. But if I hear any news I will pass it along.







Read more...

Battle for survival at South East Farallon Island

The Ultimate Shark Dive