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In October 2017 we sent one of our Trident Underwater Drone beta units to dive with great white sharks in Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. While there, our pilot Dominik Fretz took part in a cage diving expedition, which we decided was a great opportunity to put Trident through its paces. We were not disappointed.
Every year, great white sharks congregate at this remote island off the Pacific coast of Mexico to feed on tuna and elephant seals. Scientists are studying the behavior and population changes of the sharks using acoustic tags, satellite transmitters, and photo ID. The data they collect is used to advocate for protection of the shark hotspot by ensuring only permitted operators can access the area and customers of dive expeditions pay their national park access fees. Over 200 sharks have been identified in a catalog of sightings. Many of them return to the location year after year.
One of the leading shark researchers in Isla Guadalupe, Mauricio Hoyos, was on board with us for part of our journey. He has been studying the sharks for many years using tools like satellite tags and video 'critter' cams. With his permission and under his research permit, we deployed Trident from the back of the dive boat. What happened next? Well, we got a very good look at some great white sharks!
You can learn more about the expedition and view more pictures on Open Explorer here.
The use of underwater drones offers a new, safer, and less intrusive way to study the sharks and give insight into their behavior without the direct presence of humans.
Important note: no sharks were harmed in the filming of this video. All shark footage was taken under guidance of scientists in the course of research.
"...extremely pleased with its performance, capabilities and how user friendly it is. We have been using it quite often since it arrived, for cage maintenance inspections, seafloor bottom benthic monitoring, and recently we have used it to check on our mooring and anchor systems which are in deeper water than our divers are allowed to go."