Tagged mexico

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.

360-degree video offers viewers a virtual great white shark dive

Samsung is promoting it’s head-mounted Gear VR display with some 360-degree footage of great white shark diving off Port Lincoln, Australia. Head-mounted displays like the Gear VR and Occulus Rift offer viewers an immersive experience that can simulate a completely different environment.

I shot some similar white shark footage using the Kolor Abyss 360 rig at Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico, last September. This footage should be compatible with both the Samsung Gear VR and Occulus. If you don’t have a head-mounted display, you can still take advantage of the 360-degree effect, using your mouse to click and drag to change the angle.

Check out the 360-degree great white shark video

Diver frees whale shark from rope off Roca Partida, Mexico

Kudos to Dani Zapata, the divemaster of the Solmar V, for cutting a rope free from a female whale shark (Rhincodon typus) near Roca Partida, Mexico. The video footage was shot by YouTube user Ed Gentry. The whale shark was 30′ (9m) pregnant female, according to the Solmar V’s video trip report. The rope was cutting into the whale shark’s flesh and creating a hindrance for the animal and could potentially have become life-threatening for the animal. Dani cut the rope free with a pocket knife.

Check out the Solmar V video trip report for more footage of the rescue effort and to hear Dani’s first-hand account of cutting the whale shark free of the rope.

U.S. protection sought for great white sharks as endangered species

great white shark photo
Environmental groups are asking the U.S. government to name great white sharks as endangered species.

The L.A. Times is reporting that some environmental groups are seeking federal protection for great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). The groups have petitioned for the government to list California’s white shark population as an endangered species. The petition, filed last Friday, was prepared by Oceana in conjunction with Sea Stewards, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The biggest concern of those behind the petition is the threat of juvenile white shark being killed as a result of by-catch in gill nets off the coast of Southern California and Mexico, according to Oceana’s Geoff Shester. It’s unclear from the report how U.S. federal protection status would help to reduce by-catch of the species. White sharks are already a protected species in California and Mexico and cannot legally be targeted for harvest in either locales.

For more information, you can check out the full-article at the L.A. Times.

If you’re interested in signing the petition, Oceana has made the petition for federal protection of great white sharks available online.

Video: National Geographic’s “Shark Men – Whale of a Tiger”

National Geographic has uploaded a preview clip from the upcoming episode “Shark Men – Whale of a Tiger.” The video is shot off Mexico’s Isla Socorro where the “Shark Men” team appear to be attempting to hook a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier).

“Shark Men – A Whale of a Tiger” airs on May 12 (Saturday) at 8pm ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.