Trip Report and Photos
Shark Diving with Catalina Scuba Luv
and Photos ©
Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced
On Thursday September 16th
I went on a shark diving trip with Catalina
Scuba Luv. I took the early morning Catalina Express from Long
Beach to Avalon.
After checking in, and, signing the
releases at Scuba Luv, I boarded our dive boat, the King Neptune. Robert Kennedy
was our Chief Shark Wrangler and Captain for the Day.
The other divers on this trip were
from the UK. They had been out on the previous days shark dive and had been
skunked - an entire day of effort and no sharks. Captain Bob blamed the poor
results on a lack of wind and current. Today, the wind had picked up a little
and they planned a different offshore site.
Once underway, the crew set about
making the chum. Chopping up something that would be appealing to any passing
sharks was a major production that took several hours. Passengers were invited
to assist in the process if they so desired. Iím in the photos below helping
to dice tasty fish chunks. I hoped that the spice of my "elbow grease" would
add that "special something" to the chum.
The last of the chum making process
involved adding fish oil as a marinade. The completed concoction was then placed
into a chum dispenser.
Next, we drifted with the current
while the chum drifted from the chum dispenser into the ocean. All that we could
do now was to wait and to hope.
After chumming for about an hour and a half, the shark cage was lowered into
the water. Today the water was very clear with about 100 feet of visibility.
It was easy to clearly see the cage and its contents from the boat.
Any divers who wished to sit in the
cage and wait for the sharks were welcomed to do so. I was off the boat and
into the cage without hesitation. I hoped that if the sharks could actually
see something in the deli section, maybe they would come. I sat in the cage,
at about 10 feet, for an hour. There wasnít much to do but watch the chum go
by. As I waited, I day dreamed of a visit from a great white. I planned the
photos that I would take and wondered exactly how I would handle such a visit.
Eventually, I did get some visitors, but, it was just two of the Brits who got
tired of waiting on the boat. I spent another half hour taking some photos and
swimming around with the divers. Finally, after an hour and a half, I decided
to climb out of the water and see if it was lunch yet.
As soon as my camera was in the rinse
tank and my feet were on deck, someone started shouting "shark". With 1900 psi
still in my tank, I reclaimed my camera and I rolled back into the water. As
I swam back to the cage I got my first glimpse of the shark. It was a small
maco, and then another shark, a blue.
This was the blue shark.
The blue shark was actually quite
shy and stayed only for a few minutes. The maco was much bolder and stayed for
several hours. These were some of my maco shots.
What was interesting, was that once
the sharks arrived, no one chose to stay in the shark cage. Everyone was out
in the blue fending for their photo ops - divers in a total "photo frenzy".
When I ran low on air, I took a surface interval and then jumped back in to
shoot another roll of film. The maco was still there, and in my absence two
blues had come and gone. The maco continued to hang around until the chum stopped
and then within minutes he too was gone for good.
On the trip back to Catalina, those
shooting digital reviewed their "catch" with pride and satisfaction. I crossed
my fingers that I had captured something good on film. It had been a good day.
I boarded the Catalina Express for
the trip back to Long Beach. Just when I thought the excitement was over - I
noticed something very different. Several members of the Coast Guard had boarded
my boat and it looked like I was now on a ship commandeered by the Coast Guard.
OK...... were these "Coasties" or terrorists dressed like "Coasties"? Man....Just
when I thought that it was safe to get out of the water. Was I going home or
was I being hijacked, or worse? If it was the Coast Guard on the boat why were
After blatantly taking many photos
of the uniformed men, one of them approached me. "Ohhhh S.....T" I thought.
He asked me if he could see my camera. He then asked if he could see some of
the photos that I had taken. "Ohhh...S...T I continued thinking as I scrolled
through the digital images for him and explained that I had been out to Catalina
on a shark dive. Next, to my surprise, he said "those photos of me arenít really
very good, how about if later we pose for you". "Whhhheeewwww" I thought. "Sure"
Officer Gonzalez then stayed and
struck up a conversation. He explained that he was a "Sea Marshal" as part of
a program with the U.S. Coast Guard and Homeland Security. He is similar to
an "Air Marshal", except an air marshal is not uniformed. The Sea Marshals are
now traveling routinely on Catalina Express boats. He explained to me what they
do and, that if there were an actual terrorist threat aboard the boat, they
wouldnít handle it by themselves, the Coast Guard would be much more involved.
Officer Gonzales then went around the boat talking to passengers and spreading
the word about their presence. He was actually extremely personable, reassuring,
Later, as agreed, Officer Gonzales
and the other Sea Marshals met me on the back deck for a short photo session.
At the end of the day, I braved the
freeways and arrived at home safely. Until next time: