Category Archives: Guadalupe Island

California Sea Lion at Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Guadalupe Island, Sea Lion

I’ve been photographing California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) for about 20 years and still do not have the perfect image of one. They are a lot of fun to dive with, but are notoriously fickle about staying put and posing for the camera. In addition, the fur of a seal lion can at once absorb all the light my strobes put out and yet can reflect sunlight and produce hot spots in the image. So, I’ll just have to continue diving with them and trying to make more sea lion photographs. This photo is one of my favorites. It was taken at Isla Afuera at the south end of Guadalupe Island in the mid-90s on one of our 10-day exploratory diving trips. We dove all around the island, finding new underwater sites that had probably never been seen before except by fish, turtles and sharks. This was some years before the shark diving that has made the island so popular now. California sea lions and Guadalupe fur seals were our nearly-constant companions on these dives. Here, an inquisitive juvenile lines up alongside Lorna McMurray. This image was used as the frontispiece for the excellent National Geographic book “Wild Ocean” by Dr. Sylvia Earle and Henry Wolcott.

California sea lion and diver consider each other, underwater in the clear ocean water of Guadalupe Island, Zalophus californianus, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

California sea lion and diver consider each other, underwater in the clear ocean water of Guadalupe Island.
Image ID: 02251
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Guadalupe Island Diving Trip, July 2011

Guadalupe Island

I’m very happy to announce that our annual Guadalupe Island diving trip is on for July 2011! Skip Stubbs is once again personally leading this special trip to dive remote and unique Isla Guadalupe using the San Diego-based dive boat Horizon as our home-away-from-home. At present this trip is by invitation only (i.e., the entire boat is reserved and Skip is determining who the participants will be). If you are seriously interested in joining us, please get in touch with Skip (or me if you prefer) to discuss it. We have put together a lengthy flyer describing the trip, with links to many photos and lots of information about the island itself. Please read through the PDF brochure first, especially if you do not know anything about Guadalupe Island. You can print out if you wish (it will open in a new window):

Note: this is not a shark diving trip. This is an open water SCUBA and freediving trip designed to offer our guests opportunities to appreciate the unique inhabitants and explore the underwater scenery of Guadalupe Island. This is the only open-water diving trip to Guadalupe Island, this year (or probably ever), that we know of. The dates are July 21-29, 9 calendar days with 7 fulls days of diving and two travel days.

Cortez chubb, Kyphosus elegans, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Cortez chubb.
Image ID: 01020
Species: Cortez chubb, Kyphosus elegans
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

East face and shoreline of southernmost morro, daybreak, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

East face and shoreline of southernmost morro, daybreak.
Image ID: 06152
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Isla Afuera is a volcanic plug towering 700 feet above the ocean near the south end of Guadalupe Island.  Its steep cliffs extend underwater hundreds of feet offering spectacular wall diving and submarine topography, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Isla Afuera is a volcanic plug towering 700 feet above the ocean near the south end of Guadalupe Island. Its steep cliffs extend underwater hundreds of feet offering spectacular wall diving and submarine topography.
Image ID: 09753
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Keywords: Guadalupe Island, Mexico, Isla Guadalupe, scuba diving, free diving, dive boat Horizon, Baja California, San Diego.

Guadalupe Island :: First Impressions

Guadalupe Island, Mexico

First Impressions: Guadalupe Island, Mexico

September 1994. Our early expeditionary trips to Guadalupe Island on the Horizon were wild affairs. Each year Skip assembled a superb mix of skilled spearfishermen looking for giant tuna and intrepid SCUBA divers seeking to explore the scarcely seen underwater environment of remote Guadalupe Island. We would dine al fresco each evening on grilled tuna that had been swimming in the ocean that same afternoon, sipping award winning homemade beers and wine, and sleep well in anticipation of the next day’s adventures. Our diving decisions were guided largely by the weather and our interest in seeing sections of island we had not dived before. Over the years our groups had a few encounters with sharks, but this was long before before the cage-diving trips and we were not eager to see them more than necessary.

After 30 hours of travel, we have reached Guadalupe Island. We spent most of yesterday’s travel fishing, reading, relaxing and talking about what we might find while diving. Would the sharks show up when we entered the water? Anticipation is high. Our first anchorage lies on the east side of Isla Afuera, a spectacular and imposing volcanic plug a few miles south of Isla Guadalupe. The water below our liveaboard dive boat Horizon is so clear it appears almost purple. I hop in, drop underwater and swim over to the wall. A mild current has glassed off the surface above me so that I can see the vertical wall of Afuera from its base some 60′ below me to its towering summit several hundred feet above the water. A group of sea lions which had been perched on a ledge when we anchored swims toward me. I can see their approach from well over a hundred feet away and realize that this is the probably clearest water I have ever experienced. A mild current tugs at the several species of kelp that cover the rock bottom here. Looking about under the kelp I find calico bass, lobster, a few abalone and occasional bat rays. The calicos are large and dark brown, evidence that they are mature adults who may have lived here for 25 years or more.

California sea lion, Zalophus californianus, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

California sea lion.
Image ID: 00260
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Schools of perch and chubb swim just above the kelp. With my back to the wall I look out into the blue, wondering what might appear. This water is oceanic, without a hint of any coastal influence. I am struck by how alone and how far from my daily routine I am at this moment. If the current were to take me from here my next stop would be Tahiti, a sobering thought indeed. Small jellies float by as if suspended in air. Periodically a group of heavy yellowtail jacks appear from the open ocean, cruising along the wall and frightening the reef fish into their holes before sweeping back out to sea. These yellowtail are big fish, world record size in some cases, and along with yellowfin and bluefin are one of the reasons were are here, so I am pleased to see them swim by. After a while, sea lions have gathered in the shallows above me, frolicking with one another along the wall. Frequently one or two of them descend and approach me closely, always hanging upside down, and we eye each other for a time. Other than the few local hookah divers that work the island, these sea lions do not see many people. Most are juveniles and naturally curious, so there is no shortage of photo ops. I love to photograph with available light only and the conditions here are ideal: plenty of sunlight, clear water, and inquisitive pinnipeds. I drain my tank, staying with the sea lions as long as possible, and finally head back to the boat already thinking about how soon I can hop back in.

Palm kelp, Isla Afuera. Southern sea palm, Eisenia arborea, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Palm kelp, Isla Afuera. Southern sea palm.
Image ID: 01287
Species: Southern sea palm, Eisenia arborea
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Isla Afuera is a volcanic plug towering 700 feet above the ocean near the south end of Guadalupe Island.  Its steep cliffs extend underwater hundreds of feet offering spectacular wall diving and submarine topography, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Isla Afuera is a volcanic plug towering 700 feet above the ocean near the south end of Guadalupe Island. Its steep cliffs extend underwater hundreds of feet offering spectacular wall diving and submarine topography.
Image ID: 09753
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Guadalupe Island Diving Trip, July 2010 — Not Another Shark Trip

Guadalupe Island, Skip's Trips

I’m very happy to announce that our annual Guadalupe Island diving trip is on for July 2010! Skip Stubbs is once again personally leading this special trip to dive remote and unique Isla Guadalupe using the San Diego-based dive boat Horizon as our home-away-from-home. At present this trip is by invitation only (i.e., the entire boat is reserved and Skip is determining who the participants will be). If you are seriously interested in joining us, please get in touch with Skip (or me if you prefer) to discuss it. We have put together a lengthy flyer describing the trip, with links to many photos and lots of information about the island itself. Please read through the PDF brochure first, especially if you do not know anything about Guadalupe Island. You can print out if you wish (it will open in a new window):

Note: this is not a shark diving trip. This is an open water SCUBA and freediving trip designed to offer our guests opportunities to appreciate the unique inhabitants and explore the underwater scenery of Guadalupe Island. This is the only open-water diving trip to Guadalupe Island, this year (or probably ever), that we know of. The dates are July 21-29, 9 calendar days with 7 fulls days of diving and two travel days.

Cortez chubb, Kyphosus elegans, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Cortez chubb.
Image ID: 01020
Species: Cortez chubb, Kyphosus elegans
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Keywords: Guadalupe Island, Mexico, Isla Guadalupe, scuba diving, free diving, dive boat Horizon, Baja California, San Diego.

Great White Shark Photos

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island, Icons, Mexico, Sharks, Wildlife

This great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) was photographed at Guadalupe Island, Mexico. I think I have made about 15 trips to the island, a mix of open-water diving trips and shark cage photography trips. I am hoping to get down there again for scuba diving, freediving and just plain exploration (no sharking or cages) with Skip in Summer 2010. More details about Skip’s return trip to the island will be sent out soon to those who have accompanied Skip and me on past trips to Guadalupe and elsewhere. See some past blog posts about Guadalupe Island if you are interested in the island.

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Mexico's Baja California. Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and use it as a staging area before journeying farther into the Pacific ocean, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Mexico’s Baja California. Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and use it as a staging area before journeying farther into the Pacific ocean.
Image ID: 19465
Species: Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

More photos of great white sharks, Guadalupe Island photos.

Guadalupe 2008: Great White Shark Portrait, Horizontal

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island, Mexico, Sharks, Wildlife

This is one of my favorites from this year’s trip on the M/V Horizon to photograph great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at Guadalupe Island.

A great white shark swims underwater through the ocean at Guadalupe Island, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

A great white shark swims underwater through the ocean at Guadalupe Island.
Image ID: 21346
Species: Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Shark Diving resources: Horizon Charters and SharkDiver.com. Also, be sure to check out our hundreds of additional Guadalupe Island photos and photos of great white sharks.

Guadalupe 2008: Great White Shark Face

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island, Mexico, Sharks, Wildlife

Here is the face of a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Check out the detail in the shark’s eye, he is looking straight back into the camera. This was shot with a 24mm lens, full frame sensor, no crop. Pretty tight.

A great white shark swims underwater through the ocean at Guadalupe Island, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

A great white shark swims underwater through the ocean at Guadalupe Island.
Image ID: 21347
Species: Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Shark Diving resources: Horizon Charters and SharkDiver.com.

Be sure to check out our hundreds of additional Guadalupe Island photos and photos of great white sharks.

Guadalupe 2008: Satellite Tags on a Great White Shark

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island, Mexico, Sharks, Wildlife

Many of the great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at Guadalupe Island are known to researchers and appear in the white shark ID database. Some of the sharks have even been “tagged” and now sport small pop-up satellite transmitter tags that collect data about the shark’s environment and behavior, eventually transmitting the data via satellite back to researchers. Shown below are a pair of satellite tags, located just below the dorsal fin of a great white shark:

Two satellite tags, below dorsal fin of great white shark.  The tags record the sharks movements, relaying data to researchers via satellite, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Two satellite tags, below dorsal fin of great white shark. The tags record the sharks movements, relaying data to researchers via satellite.
Image ID: 21391
Species: Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Shark Diving resources: Horizon Charters and SharkDiver.com.

Be sure to check out our hundreds of additional Guadalupe Island photos and great white shark photos.

Vertical Photo of Great White Shark

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island, Mexico, Sharks, Wildlife

When a Guadalupe Island great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) first approaches the boat, it is often deep. If there are divers in the cage they typically get a look at the shark as it swims slowly beneath the boat. It seems the shark is surveying things before making a decision to move shallower and approach the boat and cages more closely. Occasionally a shark rises from the deep suddenly, straight up, leveling out only when it reaches or breaks the surface. That’s what this male white shark did. (You can tell he is a male by his two claspers visible on his ventral surface.)

Great white shark, underwater, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great white shark, underwater.
Image ID: 21362
Species: Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Shark Diving resources: Horizon Charters and SharkDiver.com.

Be sure to check out our hundreds of additional Guadalupe Island photos and photos of great white sharks.