Tagged Guadalupe

What happened to the legendary great white shark, Cal Ripfin?

Now, that August has arrived it’s about that time of year when great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) begin to arrive at Mexico’s Isla de Guadalupe Biosphere Reserve. The island is regarded as one of the best places on Earth to view white sharks in their natural habitat. However, it’s one shark in particular that many are holding out hopes to see return.

Cal Ripfin great white shark
Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) was one of the most well-known great white sharks at Guadalupe prior to his disappearance following the 2011 season.

From 2001 to 2011, Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) was one of the most well-known great white sharks to visit Mexico’s Isla de Guadalupe. Easily recognized by an injury to his dorsal fin that occurred sometime between the 2004 and 2005 season, Cal was a “fan favorite” of divers and photographers due to his inquisitive and curious nature. He would often swim right up the cameras as if he was posing for a photo opportunity.

White sharks gather at Guadalupe in the later months of the year, with the prime season considered to be between August and November. Cal consistently visited Guadalupe every season for 10 years straight, and his arrival was generally quite predictable. In 2009, he was absent early on in the season, which caused a bit of concern among researchers and divers, but he eventually showed up about midway through the season. However, after failing to be seen during the 2012 season, concerns once again rose for the well-being of Guadalupe’s favorite shark. When 2013 and 2014 passed by without any sighting of Cal Ripfin, hopes of his return were dampened even further.

great white shark close-up
Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) wasn’t shy about swimming right up to the camera, which often created great opportunities for close-up shots.

While migratory tracking data is limited among Guadalupe white sharks, the available data indicates that SPOT tagged males follow a somewhat predictable pattern each year. The data shows males traveling to Guadalupe in the latter half of a year, and spending the rest of their time in the Shared Offshore Foraging Area (SOFA) (aka “the White Shark Cafe”), a remote area in the mid-Pacific. If the tracking data available is representative of the migratory behavior of all male Guadalupe white sharks, it does not bode well for Cal Ripfin, given his 3-year absence.

Cal Ripfin great white shark
The question of why this male great white shark suddenly stopped returning to Guadalupe is one that will likely go unanswered, unfortunately.

So, what could have happened to him? Did he change his migratory routine? Did he die of natural causes, fall prey to another predator, or end up in a fishing net? At this point, it seems likely that his fate will always remain a mystery.

Somehow, I still have a tiny glimmer of hope that he’s still out there, but with each year that glimmer gets a little more faint.

Dark Tide trailer features Guadalupe great white sharks

The trailer for Halle Berry’s new shark horror flick, “Dark Tide,” showed up online today. The trailer features the typical shark attack movie fare, but it also features some of Guadalupe’s great white sharks, most notably Cal Ripfin (aka Shredder) who can be seen at 38 seconds in.

“Dark Tide” follows the story of a “shark expert” played by Berry who is involved in a shark attack but later returns to the water after a lucrative proposition from a wealthy thrill-seeker who wants to dive with white sharks outside of the cage. While some of the shark footage was shot at Guadalupe, it appears that the story mainly takes place in South Africa.

If you’re looking for a documentary about white sharks, this isn’t it. Rather it looks to be another horror/thriller with white sharks as the main antagonists (although the storm in the preview looked pretty threatening, too). So, don’t be surprised if your favorite Guadaupe white shark ends up being playing one of the villains in “Dark Tide.”

“Dark Tide” opens March 30, 2012, and is rated PG-13 for “bloody shark attacks and disturbing images” among other things.

Is great white shark diving at Guadalupe safe?

Come dive with me at Isla de Guadalupe. It's safe...assuming you keep your hands off my nose and out of my mouth.

While there is an inherent level of risk associated with being in the water with large predatory animals, I think white shark diving at Guadalupe is relatively safe, provided that sensible guidelines are followed. A recent Nautilus Explorer blog post doesn’t entirely reflect the same sentiment, which seems a bit odd, considering that the Nautilus Explorer charters white shark diving trips to Guadalupe.

The post begins with the question of whether diving with white sharks at Guadalupe is safe or not and is followed by the response, “HECK NO!!!” The author goes on to say that there is “NOTHING” safe about white sharks.

In all fairness to the Nautilus Explorer, the main focus of the blog post is the safety of their cages. So, while the author states that diving with white sharks at Guadalupe is not safe, their cages are built with the safety of both sharks and divers in mind. It might just be a matter of poor wording, for all I know.

Interestingly enough, the blog post includes a photo from the series of images that hit the media earlier this month, one of which features a “shark wrangler” pushing on the nose of a white shark in close proximity of a cage, while a diver takes advantage of the photo opportunity. In another photo from the series, the “shark wrangler’s” hand appears to actually be in the mouth of the shark.

So, I guess if you have divers in the cages reaching out and pushing on the noses of white sharks, it would be fair to label that type of activity as being unsafe, regardless of the safety of the cages the divers are in.