Shark Divers Refute Findings Of Mexico Congress

MP Mexico News Staff

March 11, 2008

An OPEN LETTER to members of the Environment and Natural Resources
Committee of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, Honorable Congress of the
Union, Mexico, D.F.

Esteemed Members of the Chamber of Deputies:

Several allegations have come to our attention regarding ecotourism
activities of the white shark cage diving tour operators at Isla
Guadalupe, Mexico. Your meeting minutes of April 3, 2008 state the
following (translated):

1.   “As well, it is mentioned that the techniques used by these tourist
service providers in order to attract white sharks puts at risk the
ecological balance in the area, the habitat and populations of this
species, since their boats carry containers with sanguaza (blood of
different origins mixed with water), and bait that they dump into the
sea once near the island with the aim of attracting sharks in order to
see them rise to the surface or jump. It should be noted that the
sanguaza consists of blood from different origins, (which) could have
been fishes, fowls or mammals, and in some cases (it) has the remains of
entrails mixed with water.”

2.   “These boats pour out the sanguaza at night so that the essence can
remain in the sea, and the next day they can assure tourists (of) the
presence of white sharks around this. Another of their methods, although
it is utilized to a lesser degree, is the use of pinniped (sea lion,
seal or elephant seal) shaped lures, combined with marine mammal oil, a
situation that obviously violates federal legislation.”

3.   “As has been mentioned, the practices used in order to attract
these species are so inadequate that they have modified the behavior of
white sharks in the area, as well as its local distribution. This change
of its behavior will create a potential risk to the populations of sea
elephant (Mirounga angustirostris) and Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus
townsendi), as well as abalone fishermen.”

4.   “Regarding sanguaza, this must be considered hazardous waste and
even potentially infectious, therefore its use to attract could result
in the spread of pathogen agents or viruses that may be potentially
infectious and harmful to the marine and terrestrial fauna of the region.”

We would like the opportunity to refute these allegations, and to speak
directly with any members or deputies of the Environment and Natural
Resources Committee. What you have been made aware of at this pristine
site is factually incorrect, and it does a great disservice to the
overall positive efforts that this fleet, in good faith, has put forward
within the Biosphere Reserve boundaries of Isla Guadalupe over the past
seven years of operations.

If this site, and the fate of a large percentage of the Pacific’s white
shark population, is to continue to thrive the actions you take in
coming months will be a deciding factor. We ask that the esteemed
members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee come to
understand exactly how these white shark operations are run, and how
this fleet, on its own accord, has made great strides in building a long
term ecotourism benefit for Mexico.

We stand ready and committed to working with the Mexican government in
developing this site as a world class ecotourism and white shark
research destination. These small steps have already begun at this site,
and we would like to introduce you to them.


Patric Douglas