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Shark-Smitten Tourists Help Save Guadalupe's Great Whites

Ecotourism has become the unlikely protector of the unexpectedly endangered great white sharks

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Douglas estimates that 30 percent of the great white sharks in the Western Pacific frequent Guadalupe. For years poachers illegally killed the sharks, mostly for their jaws, which fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.....[ More ]

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Other sharks soon follow, including a newcomer that has not yet been named. Because air is supplied hookah-style from tanks above the surface, divers do not require scuba certification.....[ More ]

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After a slow pass of the cage, Shredder turns impassively and descends back into the shadows.....[ More ]

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Shredder, a Guadalupe regular easily recognized by the ragged trailing edge of his dorsal fin, turns and swims directly at the cage. Over the steady underwater gurgle of exhaust air bubbling from the regulators, divers hear their own muffled cries of awe--mostly "Wow!" exclaimed through teeth clamped on a rubber mouthpiece.....[ More ]

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To attract great white sharks from their cruising depths up to the surface, Horizon second-in-command Spencer Salmon hurls a "hangbait" clear of the submerged shark cages. To protect the Guadalupe biosphere from pathogens, government inspectors monitor shark-cage operators to ensure that all hangbaiting is done with nonhazardous fish products, usually tuna.....[ More ]

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Bruce, a hefty 13-foot male, silently approaches the observation cage, his extraordinary array of senses tuned in to his unexpected visitors.....[ More ]

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Cage occupants, mostly ­ecotourists, await their first encounter with a great white, as Tipple prepares his camera. Topside, divemaster Martin Graf ( foreground ) and his crew supervise the proceedings.....[ More ]

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Deckhands attach the cage to Horizon’s stern. Cages are formed from thick aluminum bars that each have a compression strength of 5,000 pounds per square inch.....[ More ]

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Luke Tipple, a noted shark expert and documentary producer, grasps an underwater video camera as he descends into the cage.....[ More ]

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Cage divers settle in to observe....[ More ]

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A frequent 13-foot visitor called the Russian passes by....[ More ]

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Guadalupe Island, a way station for great whites....[ More ]

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