Mexico Bans Shark Tourism Off Baja Coast in Bid to Protect Toothy Giants

According to reports, Mexico has banned shark-related tourism activities in an area often referred to as the top destination for great white shark encounters. In fact, some in the industry boast that it outperforms South Africa and Australia with its “shark-seeing consistency and conditions” purportedly found there.

So, just where is this Jaws Mecca? Located in the Pacific Ocean 150 miles off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula sits Guadalupe Island, a small volcanic mound, more or less, surrounded by sharks. It’s considered a hotspot for great whites in particular. Due to this reputation, thrill seekers began fueling a growing tourism industry that included cage diving, sport fishing, and popular shark-watching charters akin to whale-watching tours. But that’s all about to end.

Photo: Pixabay/bryonholmes

Guadalupe Island

The Mexican government has opted instead to effectively block or ban activities that have an impact on the sharks that congregate there and thus protect those within the Isla Guadalupe Biosphere Reserve, which is said to include the island itself. The surprising news was reported by CNN affiliate TV Azteca.

While it is a step in the right direction for the welfare of the sharks, it will not be welcome news to businesses that make money from their presence. Many of those effected are based in San Diego, California, just north of the border.

SCUBA diver shark
Photo: Pixabay/DangrafArt

Marine Life Protections

The Mexican government cited cage diving experiences, in particular, as being harmful. They pointed to baiting as a common practice where businesses put bait or other “attractants” in the water to create more activity and provide guests with an extra thrill. Drones have also reportedly been banned, except in cases where they are used by the proper authorities to monitor plant and animal activity at the reserve.

Photo: Pixabay/anncapictures

Great white sharks are currently considered a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). That’s only one classification level short of being listed as endangered. The biosphere’s goal isn’t just protecting a shark habitat. Other marine life, like bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, and the Guadalupe Island fur seal, also inhabit the area.

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