Phillip Colla and Harrison "Skip" Stubbs have led at least fourteen exploratory trips and made hundreds of open-water dives at Guadalupe Island, exploring the island's rarely seen underwater terrain and observing its special animal inhabitants. In addition we have participated in a half dozen or so trips to observe great white sharks at Guadalupe from protective cages. Our photographic and video coverage of Guadalupe Island is quite extensive. We probably have the world's largest collection of still photographs and video of the Guadalupe Island, literally thousands of photos and hundreds of hours of videotape. In fact, we have provided much imagery to the Mexican scientific community and governmental agencies in recent years as they develop scientifically based management plans for the special island. A small representation of our photographs is presented in the following links:
About Guadalupe Island. Guadalupe Island lies 150 miles offshore of the Pacific coast of Mexico, roughly south of San Diego and WNW of Punta Eugenia on the Baja California peninsula. This large (98 square mile, 22 mile long) island is environmentally isolated, surrounded as it is by deep water, some of which attains depths of 12,000' between the island and the mainland.
In summer, its waters are typically very clear with visibility in excess of 100'. Guadalupe is bathed by oceanic currents, so its marine life includes pelagic animals such as pilot whales, Cuvier's beaked whales, oceanic whitetip sharks, bluefin and yellowfin tuna and strange gelatinous zooplankton. Yet the island's long coastline supports many coastal species as well, including garibaldi, parrotfish, triggerfish, butterflyfish, lobster, various invertebrate reef creatures, and great white sharks. Guadalupe is home to over 150 native species and at least 30 endemic species. Its position between temperate and subtropical ecozones results in an interesting mix of species in its waters.
Marine mammals live in Guadalupe's waters in abundance. In fact, Guadalupe is a both a Mexican nature preserve (dedicated in1925) and a pinniped sanctuary (1975), and was the last refuge for the Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) and the Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi). Had small colonies of these animals not managed to hide from sealers at Isla Guadalupe in the 1900s, they almost certainly would have become extinct. While at Guadalupe we have had great in-water encounters with elephant seals, sea lions and fur seals, and occasional encounters with bottlenose dolphin and beaked whales.
Some of the world's most skilled spearfishermen, using band-powered spears and breathholding techniques only, dive the island with us in search of huge gamefish. Guadalupe Island is the site for the current spearfishing world records for Pacific bluefin tuna (Terry Maas, 398 lbs, 1983) and North American yellowtail (Doug Kuczkowski, 77 lbs, 1999).
Geologically, the island is wonderful to behold. The north end of the island reaches an altitude of 4200', high enough to trap clouds on most days and produce dramatic vistas. Sudden winds occasionally howl down the island's steep cliffs and across its boulder beaches. Historically, mountaintop Guadalupe island pine and Guadalupe cypress trees condensed cloud moisture into fresh water springs, supporting a community of plants along the top ridge of the island. Goats introduced by sealers and failed ranching enterprises have wiped the island clean of most vegetation, including most of the pines and cypress. On the island's east side, these goats can often be seen approaching the shore in late afternoon, or on promontories and ridges throughout the day.
Many rocks and undersea pinnacles surround the island: cinder cones dot the island, and lava caves and tubes can be seen in many places along the shoreline, all testaments to its volcanic origins. Several smaller but spectacular islands, named Afuera ("outer") and Adentro ("inner") on Mexican charts, rise just offshore of Guadalupe's south end and are usually the focus of our diving expeditions there.
About Diving Guadalupe Island. We have great experience diving Guadalupe Island, having organized and conducted twelve lengthy dive expeditions to the island. Our understanding of the natural history of the pinniped inhabitants there, notably the Guadalupe fur seal and Northern elephant seal, arises from having spent hundreds of hours in the water observing, filming and photographing these animals. If you are interested in visiting the island for filming or natural history purposes, please contact us. We can accompany you to the island and serve in an advisory role during your filming efforts as well as offer advice as you scope your project, especially with respect to suggested dive sites (given your interests and time) and suggested times to visit (given seasonal variations in natural history and weather).
We also have considerable experience diving Islas San Benito, a group of three small islands near Punta Eugenia and Isla Cedros on the coast of Baja California, and are happy to consult with you on diving and filming in these islands as well.