Katie Yonker and her group got more than they expected on their 2nd annual Bluewater Travel Guadalupe trip. The group visited the area – which is known for great white shark sightings – back in September, and it’s safe to say they weren’t let down.
While in their diving cages, a female great white measuring between 13-15 feet, known as ‘Milana Arnon’ to locals, slowly swims up to the cage and immediately proceeds to bite the air supply. The cage immediately dips when this happens, to which the shark responds to by diving into and wedging herself in the cage.
“While Yann was turning on the valve, the shark swam vertically down into the balcony of the cage, made a sharp turn, and swam right through the bars of the cage,” said Katie. “She thrashed around for several seconds and in the process got further lodged into the bars of the cage.”
Here’s a view from inside the cage during the encounter:
The boat is alerted to the situation and raises the cage, along with the shark. The divers have to exit right beside the thrashing shark.
The only solution they can think of in the short amount of time they have is to tie a rope around the shark and pull it out as they lower the cage. Katie attributes the training and quick thinking of the crew for this not ending in a completely different way.
“The crew wasted no time trying to get the shark dislodged from the cage. After a few failed attempts, they tied a rope around her tail, lowered the cage back into the water, and tried to pull her out backwards,” she said. “Her gills were pressed against the cage bars, so divemaster Peter went into the cage and pressed on her gills, which freed the shark and she swam away.”
More than anything, Katie want it to be clear this was not a shark attack:
“Encounters such as this are often sensationalized as man-eating shark attacks. To be clear, this was in no way a shark attack,” she continues. “It was a shark enticed by the scent of tuna, not humans. I suspect (and hope) that this incident prompts some changes in the operations, mainly to the design of the cages so that this cannot happen again.”