SAN DIEGO – Mexico’s government has banned cage diving off the coast of Guadalupe Island. Previously, local touring companies have taken thrill seekers out to sea and let them get up close to sharks while inside the metal enclosure, but that’s no longer the case.
Tourists, professional divers and researchers worldwide have flocked to the biodiverse paradise that is Guadalupe Island for some facetime with a great white, all from the comfort of a cage.
“The presence of the shark is just majestic,” recalled Manuel Lazcano, a shark expedition guide with Ocean Enterprises, a scuba diving company based in San Diego.
It has been a second home for Lazcano for the past three decades, but his time leading tourists in and out of Mexico has now come to an abrupt halt.
“We are losing a lot of money and losing a lot of people who had these very high expectations for years to see the great whites,” Lazcano explained.
The Mexican government backing the ban citing their efforts to protect the species, calling the observation of sharks behind bars dangerous, pointing back to a 2016 case when a shark smashed into a cage, trapping it momentarily with a diver.
The move comes with a cost, halting business for charter boat owners, diving companies and researchers here at home.
Research biologist Nicole Lucas with the Marine Conservation Science Institute also warning this form of protection could backfire, adding it only leaves a sea of opportunity for poachers and illegal activity, hurting the species and the environment in the long run.
“When the boats are out there with cage diving operations, they’re there all the time and keeping an eye on the sharks, but now that no one is out there, there is a possibility of commercial fishermen or poachers taking white sharks,” Lucas explained to FOX 5.