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Meet Juliet and John Conniff of Islander Charters in Point Loma

Today we’d like to introduce you to Juliet and John Conniff.

Juliet, John, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Fourteen years ago as a couple with a passion for the ocean we bought the Islander. The boat was a sport fishing vessel but given the season for sport fishing was short, we set out to find what other ocean activities we could provide to extend our running time each year. The presence of Great White Sharks at Guadalupe Island, Mexico was noticed about 20 years ago. After researchers confirmed this was now a regular spot on the sharks’ migratory path, we jumped at the chance to show passengers these majestic and feared apex predators in their natural environment. It had been done in South Africa and Australia but pioneering this type of adventure at Guadalupe Island was much different. We had to do a lot of negotiating and go through rolls of red tape to obtain a permit through the Mexican government. Building cages, modifying the boat for dive operations and all sorts of other logistics took another large chunk of time and money. Next was convincing potential customers to go on a 5 day adventure, completely off the grid in the open ocean, versus a 4 hour offshore tourist attraction which is what is offered in South Africa. The beauty of the island, the crystal clear waters providing excellent visibility and our guarantee of seeing Great White Sharks has helped make our dream come true. Through loads of hard work, persistence and determination, we have doubled the initial length of our season, In addition to deep sea fishing and kayak mothership fishing trips to San Clemente Island, we now take about 200 passengers per year to dive with the incredible Great White Sharks at Guadalupe Island. Our reputation and helpful crew has led us to other fantastic opportunities such a being the preferred vessel at Guadalupe for scientific research studies, tagging programs, documentary film making and Discovery Channel Shark Week specials.

Has it been a smooth road?
We were attempting to do work in a foreign country (also considered a third world country) and there were too many obstacles to list! Especially since this activity had never been done before, we had no idea who to even approach for permission. We would track down the Mexican contact who we were told was 100% in charge of issuing the permit only to find there was another agency who had to give them permission first. I cannot even tell you how many times this happened with several different bureaus, the Mexican Navy and the Mexican environmental agencies. We would get something approved and stamped by one office then the next agency would tell us it wasn’t valid.

Other than the bureaucratic side of things, some of our other obstacles are competitors who dive at the island, some of whom do not follow proper practices and therefore give us all a bad name, as well as changing people’s perception of Great White Sharks as blood thirsty man eaters.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are an ocean adventure based company providing deep sea fishing trips, primarily for tuna, kayak mothership fishing trips to San Clemente Island and Great White Shark cage diving at Guadalupe Island, Mexico. We are best known for our Discovery Channel Shark Week specials and our work with shark researchers. We are most proud of our friendly, hardworking and helpful crew as well as our dedication to keeping our boat in tip-top shape. Both of these things and our excellent customer service are what sets us apart from other fishing and dive operations.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
San Diego is the mecca for sport fishing, we have the largest sport fishing fleet in the world. Due to our close proximity to Mexico and Guadalupe Island, San Diego is the premier spot for our type of boating activities. You couldn’t ask for a better place to start a business like ours as the customer base already knows what is available to them here in sunny San Diego.

Pricing:

  • Great White Shark cage dive trips – all inclusive 5 day trips each Fall to Guadalupe Island, Mexico $3,195 per person
  • 100% success rate viewing Great White Sharks and 100% safety record (no cage breaches or injuries with sharks ever)
  • A family owned American business regulated by the US Coast Guard with all employees participating in their random drug test program
  • Kayak Mothership fishing trips run May – July each year (1.5 to 3.5 days in length, $395 per person & up)
  • Deep sea fishing trips run July – September each year (1.5 to 6 days in length, prices vary $435 per person & up)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Islander Charters, Inc.

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