Isla Guadalupe, the best place in the world to see the great white shark

The Isla Guadalupe Biosphere Reserve, Natural Protected Area in Baja California, is the best place in the world to observe white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) , with the only population of white sharks away from the coast as well as pristine conditions. This is due to its characteristics, water visibility, number of animals that can be seen in a day (up to 33) and their remoteness and isolation, said researcher Mauricio Hoyos.

During the presentation of his book ‘The Great White Shark, Protector of the Oceans, (El gran tiburón blanco, protector de los océanos), a work supported by the WWF – TELMEX TELCEL Foundation partnership, Hoyos said he carries out research based on the photo identification and placement of acoustic and satellite tags to the specimens arriving to this insula, with the purpose of obtaining data that allows learning more about their trajectories and habits.

The Isla Guadalupe Biosphere Reserve is the only white shark concentration site in Mexico, where in 2016 there were 274 specimens of this species, representing an increase of 30% over the previous year, reported the Head of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), Alejandro del Mazo Maza, who presided the event. Del Mazo Maza added that this year a new observation cage was designed, in order to guarantee the safety of the species and visitors.

“For 14 years, the Mexican scientist has studied the white shark in Guadalupe, surrounded by crystalline waters: at first, like a modern Robinson Crusoe living isolated for months on this volcanic island which is reached by boat after a day of sailing,” commented the novelist Ángeles Mastretta, who made the presentation of the book in the Soumaya Museum at Plaza Carso.

“This is the first book written in Latin America that covers everything about the white shark, a species that has evolved for 11 million years to become the king of the seas, because of its anatomical characteristics and its six senses: taste, hearing, sight, smell, sensory lateral line and electro reception; which allow it orientating, navigating and detecting its prey. The work gives us the opportunity to understand that it is a majestic animal, which maintains the biological balance of the oceans,” said Marcos Linares, Deputy Director of Corporate Marketing at TELCEL.

Jorge Rickards, Acting Director General of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Mexico, stressed that “in previous decades the investigation of white sharks in our country was carried out by US experts, since Mexican biologists believed that the presence of this species here was rare. It is in the year 2000 when it is discovered that Isla Guadalupe is one of its meeting places and begins the sustainable tourism activity to observe them. The white shark put Isla Guadalupe on the map.”

With the support of the WWF – TELMEX TELCEL Foundation Partnership, Hoyos and his team, the first Mexican expert group on telemetry in sharks, photo identify and mark the sharks that arrive at Isla Guadalupe each season. In general, over the last eight years, they have placed 158 acoustic and satellite tags on 12 different species, including 79 white sharks, to follow their migratory routes.

The permanent research work in the area allowed identifying in 2013 Deep Blue, a female with more than six meters in length, the largest white shark ever filmed.

As a result of Hoyos’ research, white sharks are now known to hunt northern elephant seals at 200 meters depth, something that American scientists considered impossible because they had only recorded that the species attacked from the surface up to 20 meters deep. The Mexican biologist’s research also revealed that young sharks stay for up to 14 months on the island.

Dr. Hoyos stressed that, contrary to popular belief, humans are not part of the diet of sharks because they do not have enough fat. He noted that according to statistics, from 1876 to 2016, there were 314 attacks of white sharks on the planet, of which only 10% were fatal.