“When I told people what I was going to do,” said Chris Mannerino, “they would ask: “Do you have a death wish?””
On October 23, Mannerino, from Point Loma, couldn’t wait to swim with the sharks. He and four other San Diegans jumped on a charter bus with 10 others at Fisherman’s Landing in Point Loma at 6 am — to head to Ensenada.
“Point Loma based Islander Charters had their boat in Ensenada because it shaves off 15-20 hours of traveling/fuel and clearing customs,” he said. “Then around 8:30 am we all got aboard and set sail for Guadalupe Island, about 200 miles southwest of Ensenada.”
“It took us 20 hours through open ocean to get to the island,” Mannerino said. “The crew of seven had said that it was the roughest outing of the season but I made it through the trip without getting seasick.”
“As we pulled up to the island it was like a scene out of Jurassic Park,” Mannerino said. “The island was created by two volcanoes.”
The passengers and crew members are not allowed to fish here because it’s deemed a preserve by the Mexican government; Mannerino and the other passengers were here on a different agenda.
“Each cage holds up to four divers,” Mannerino said, “and you don’t need to be scuba certified as they provide you air through an on-board compressor. I felt claustrophobic for the first minute, but then settled down.”
Mannerino took photos and video of their underwater experience with a GoPro Hero 7.
“We went in one-hour shifts with four people per cage (there are two cages on board). Eight people were in the water at all times then we’d switch out for the next eight people and we did this throughout the day until dark.”
The water was about 70 degrees and the crew provided a wetsuit, booties, gloves, and a hood for each passenger.
“We saw ten sharks on the first day, five on the second, and three on the last day. There was a ton of yellowtail and yellowfin tuna and a few wahoo, seals, and jellyfish.
“You could see and hear the fur seals and elephant seals that were on the shore. The elephant seals migrate down from the northern Pacific Ocean to breed on the island. This is the main food source for the great whites.”
Mannerino is a real estate consultant by trade and photographs as a hobby.
“[The owners of Islander Charters] live in Point Loma and have seen my photography through social media and asked if I would join them to get pictures of the trip for their website and social media,” he said. “This was something I could not pass up.”