A great white shark named Lucy and her brave little escort; video

Another cage-diving season is underway at Mexico's Guadalupe Island, where magnificent great white sharks will be on display for the next few months.

Among the dozens of sharks that reside seasonally at the remote land mass 160 miles west of Baja California is a large female named Lucy. We've selected this distinctive-looking shark for a video profile after asking Martin Graf, owner of Shark Diver, to alert us if his team witnesses quirky or unique shark behavior. (Best watched in full screen.)

Graf, who was en route to Guadalupe at the time of this post, sent a link showing Lucy patrolling the dive site's perimeter with a tiny pilot fish boldly leading the way, almost from inside Lucy's choppers.

It's not unusual for pilot fish to stick close to sharks; the smaller fish are tolerated because they consume parasites from their larger hosts. But younger pilot fish, such as Lucy's escort, typically linger near kelp and sea jellies — not inside the mouths of enormous white sharks.

Graf shared the clip, which reveals only a small aspect of the dynamics at play at Guadalupe, via social media on July 29.

Lucy the great white shark and her pilot fish escort.

"The original video is longer and shows the pilot fish in the mouth of Lucy, and when Lucy is going for a tuna bait, the pilot fish swims out the side of the mouth and goes right back in after Lucy missed the bait," Graf said.

The footage was captured last season and Graf anticipates the arrival of Lucy, along with the other large female sharks, in a few weeks.

Great white sharks reside at Guadalupe from midsummer into early winter. The rest of the year is spent farther out at sea.

Mexico’s Guadalupe Island. Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

As viewers can see, Lucy’s body is scarred and her tail is mangled. Graf said this inhibits the shark’s speed, but apparently does not affect her ability to survive.

Shark Diver has documented Lucy's presence at Guadalupe Island for nine consecutive years, which is curious because it shows that Lucy is not a productive adult female.

As Graf stated in a recent blog post, most mature females return to Guadalupe every other year — after they give birth along the Mexican shoreline.

Lucy is one of 154 white sharks cataloged in a database maintained by the Marine Science Conservation Institute.

Shark Diver is one of a handful of companies permitted to run expeditions to Guadalupe, where divers breathe air supplied from the vessels and do not require scuba certification. (The MSCI is conducting a special trip, open to the public, Nov. 12-17 aboard the Nautilus Under Sea.)

The cage-diving season typically runs through November.

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