gmhTODAY 12 gmhToday Jan Feb 2017 - Page 84

Laura Perry and son, Kevin Lewis L ast October Laura traveled to Guadalupe Island, locat- ed roughly 150 miles west of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Her motivation? October is peak season for the arrival of female great white sharks who for centuries have chosen these waters as their preferred birthing grounds. “No human has ever seen the birth of a great white shark in the open ocean,” Laura noted, adding, “Maybe that’s why they’ve been around so long.” She went on to explain that the waters off the coast of Guadalupe Island are known among diving enthusiasts as ‘the Shark Café.’ This ocean area midway between Baja and the Hawaiian Islands got its name in 2002 from Monterey Bay Aquarium researchers monitoring great white behavior via satellite tracking tags. They tracked great whites diving as deep as 1,000 feet every 10 minutes in an area that for a shark was like a desert – devoid of prey. Male and female sharks diving and loitering in the area led researchers to conclude that they must be mating there before heading to coastal waters in search of whales and other big stuff to eat. Laura drove to San Diego where she joined her son Kevin Lewis and his friend A.J. Lockhart from Santa Barbara, and her photographer friend, John Thackara—all avid divers and surfers who were hankering to get up close and personal, safely, with a great white. They took a bus to Ensenada (per Laura, the bus ride was scarier than diving in shark cages) where they joined divers from around the globe onboard the Nautilus Belle Amie, a 135-foot dive boat fitted with five dive cages. Two cages were kept near the surface and three submersibles were lowered to a depth of about 30 feet. 84 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017