Last Friday, on the 4th of June, San Diego diver Brian L Kirkpatrick was diving with Waterhorse Charters aboard the San Diego charter dive boatthe Humboldt. They had just finished a third dive at a dive site called Lobster Shack, on North Island, in the Coronados Islands, Mexico. They had pulled up anchor between 2 and 3 pm and were preparing to depart. Mr. Kirkpatrick was on the fly-bridge with Captain Greg Hatem when they noticed the dorsal fin of a large shark on the surface of the water, about 200 yards from the boat.
They informed the rest of the divers on the boat and the captain proceeded to motor in that direction. As they got closer they could see the nose, tail and dorsal fin of the shark and they identified it as a Basking Shark.
According to Wikipedia, the Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second largest living shark, after the whale shark. It can get up to 25 ft long and is found in all the world’s temperate oceans. It is a slow moving and generally harmless filter feeder, feeding mainly off plankton.
See here for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basking_shark
Capt. Hatem carefully positioned the boat so as not to come too close and shut the engines off, and allowed the boat to gently drift towards the shark. At that point the shark swam towards the boat and past the bow. The Humboldt is 45 feet long and has a 16 foot beam and the shark was longer than the Humboldt is wide.
The first person to ask if they could swim with the shark was Sandra L Miller, a dive instructor for Sports Chalet.
Anita D’Amato, a Captain and Dive Master with Waterhorse Charters, approved the idea with a warning to the divers not to harass or chase the shark. Sandra was the first in the water, while Mr. Kirkpatrick got his camera gear and snorkel equipment ready.
The crew picked up Sandra and they repositioned the boat to be closer to the shark. As soon as Greg shut the motors down, Sandra and Brian slipped into the water again and swam to where the shark was feeding. They were able to approach within about 20 to 25 feet from the tail of the shark as it swam away. At one point it turned broadside to them and Brian was able to video it. They spent close to 10 minutes in the water and probably about 4 minutes in close proximity to the shark.
At all times, the divers were careful to not approach too close to the shark or give the appearance of chasing or harassing it.
Brian Kirkpatrick says the video of the shark and expert maneuvering of the boat would not have been possible without the expert knowledge and skills of the captain and crew of the Humboldt and Waterhorse Charters.
Video used with permission of author Brian Kirkpatrick
See here for more information on Waterhorse Charters: [www.waterhorsecharters.com]
Other sources: www.wikipedia.org/spearboard.com