In the springtime each year, sevengill sharks are known to congregate heavily around the kelp beds at the La Jolla Cove in San Diego. These Broadnose Sevengill Sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) in San Diego are one of our favorite animals to encounter while diving since they are the largest animal in the area. Almost all of our interactions diving with the sevengill sharks at La Jolla Cove are along the bottom. Their methodical, slow swimming style allows for great photos and videos. We have found that, generally speaking, if there is one sevengill shark in the area another one is close by.
Some studies suggest they may be a social creature (which may be an indicator of higher intelligence), so look for a second or third shark in the limits of your visibility. If you’re lucky and the sevengill sharks are interested, they may begin to make tighter circles as they check out what you are. Enjoy the encounter for as long as they swim with you! If you’re looking to interact with the sevengill sharks around San Diego, La Jolla Cove may be one of the best dive sites to try. Avoid the tricky entry, long surface kick over kelp, and just take a boat right out to the dive site for a 3 tank dive! There are certainly spots where we seem to have more sevengill action, but interestingly enough the ‘hot-spots’ change relatively quickly over time.
With a little bit of patience, you can have some really close encounters!
Why dive with us? We dive La Jolla almost everyday, which allows us to remain informed and up-to-date with the current sightings of sevengill sharks in the area – including what depth or location they are currently frequenting. We are involved in the only sevengill shark tagging project in San Diego, and our countless hours underwater with these sharks has given us great experience working with sevengills. We hope you find our encounters and observations informative and interesting – and hopefully helpful in learning about these amazing, occasionally misunderstood sharks!
What are some distinguishing characteristics?
Named after their seven gill slits (most sharks have 5), sevengill sharks are the only living shark left of their genus. The sevengill sharks in San Diego are a prehistoric looking shark, and you’ll be able to identify them by their unique behavior and features.
With a broad, blunt nose and only one dorsal fin set far back along their spine, their thick body shape resembles that of a submarine. The caudal or tail fin on sevengill sharks is also a little peculiar, with the upper lobe of the fin being much longer than the bottom one, adding a graceful touch to their swimming pattern.
What do they eat?
Studies of the stomach analyses of sevengill sharks in Tasmania have shown that they are generalist, opportunistic predators – scientists found stomach contents ranging from bait fish to bottlenose dolphin, and everything in between.
They are known to consume seals and sea lions (pinnipeds), though whether they feed on carrion (dead animals) or actively seek out healthy pinnipeds is not certain. Currently, sevengill sharks are thought to be more of a scavenging, carrion feeder rather than an active hunter, perhaps taking advantage of the record amount of dead and injured sea lion pups in the La Jolla area this year.
What brings them to the La Jolla Cove?
It’s unsure why the sevengill sharks congregated in such numbers during the 2013 year, and it remains to be seen whether or not 2013 will continue to bring more sharks to the area. Some divers believe the sharks were mating in the area, citing the large amount of scarring visible on the sharks, and the fact that after about a month the reports of very large females in the area seemed to dwindle.
Please check our calendar here for upcoming trips.
- Board the boat at 8 am.
- Listen to the captain’s Coast Guard safety briefing.
- On the way to La Jolla we will discuss in detail how to safely dive with these sharks.
- We will do a 2 tank dive (1 hr surface intervals) and aim to return by 4 pm
- We will stick around and be happy to answer any and all questions you have!
The boat we will be using is a 25 foot center console, six-pac local dive boat meant for the open ocean. Rated to hold 6 passengers, we carry 4-6 guests. Food and beverages are provided to keep you energized over the duration of the trip - if you have any special requests, feel free to let us know.
At SD Expeditions we use all means necessary to provide you with the safest interaction possible. We are diligent about checking the latest weather reports and updates to remain well informed. However, we are out on the ocean, and if weather conditions do not cooperate, we may need to head back early.
We only offer this excursion during the time when the sevengills are here in the Cove. Although highly unlikely, there is a chance you may not see a shark - we’re not in a theme park with domesticated animals, nor would we want to be. The excitement of not knowing exactly what you will see or encounter while diving in the wild is what makes this excursion so amazing.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What does the trip cost include?
The trip is all-inclusive, so it includes full gear rental, snacks, water, and lunch. The only thing the cost does not include is gratuity, if desired, for the captain/crew and an underwater camera rental
How is this trip different than the shore dives?
This is a 3 tank boat dive instead of a 2 tank shore dive, increasing your chances for the best sevengill shark interactions. You also get to avoid walking up and down stairs with your gear on and the 15 minute kick in and out to the dive site. The dives are more private (4 people maximum on the boat), and food, water, and snacks are provided on the boat.
What certifications do I need?
Since this trip is a shallow scuba dive trip, all divers must be at least open water certified, or an equivalent certification
Has anyone ever been bit?
No one has ever been bit on an SD Expeditions shark diving trip (or any SDE expedition). We teach you proper shark diving technique so that you, and the sharks, stay safe. No diver has ever been bitten at the La Jolla Cove. However, there have been recorded sevengill shark attacks on humans in other parts of the world - these are wild animals, and we are entering their environment. Like all sharks, sevengills are NOT ‘mindless killers’. These sharks are intelligent, and approach all objects (including humans!) very cautiously, slowly acclimating themselves to our presence. Over time they will become more comfortable, and more inquisitive, and we have the experience to monitor the disposition and well-being of every shark in our presence so we can provide you with the closest and safest encounter. As fun and amazing as sevengill shark diving can be, it’s always important to remember that in the San Diego and La Jolla area, sevengill sharks are the apex predators of their ecosystem. Always compose yourself in a manner that gives these sharks the respect they deserve, and we recommend against touching, aggravating, or antagonizing these powerful sharks.
How close will I get to the sharks?
Sevengill sharks are wild animals, and we are in their ocean. They will come as close as they feel comfortable, and the calmer you are the less likely they will be frightened away. These are relatively slow moving sharks, and we have some of the best interactions and photo opportunities with them over any other shark.
What is the dive profile like?
The La Jolla Cove is a relatively shallow kelp dive, ranging from 30-45 feet deep. Water temperatures can range from 55F - 65F, so we recommend a 7mm with hood, booties, gloves etc.
What do I do with my belongings?
You can keep anything you need for the trip on the boat, and we recommend you lock anything you don’t need in your car.
When is the next trip?
You can view our calendar here for upcoming trip dates. We are constantly updating and adding more trips, so feel free to request a date. If none of these dates work for you, another option is to privately charter the boat for a day of your choosing. You can bring up to 3 total divers and have your own private sevengill shark trip! For more information on private charters, please contact us.
How long is the expedition?
We will board around 8am in the morning, and hope to return by 5pm latest.
What do I need to bring?
- A warm set of clothes
- Towel, sunscreen, sunglasses or a hat
- Seasickness medicine - we strongly recommend taking seasickness medicine as a precautionary measure. Take some the night before to get it in your system, and then take a full dose well before boarding the boat. We sometimes have divers who think they don’t get sick and have to sit out because the conditions are different than what they are used to and they are too sick to dive. There is nothing worse than having to get out of the water when shark diving because you don’t feel good.
Do I need a camera?
Sure! If you have an underwater camera (or you’re a photographer), by all means bring it. And if you don’t have an underwater camera, we also rent waterproof cameras for the trip, and you can keep the memory card with all of the photos and videos you captured.
Do you offer any shark photo packages?
We can offer underwater photographer/videographer shark photo packages. Our photographers have been published in multiple magazines such as National Geographic. We will focus on getting shots of you in the water with sharks so you can focus on diving safely with the sharks hands-free. After the trip, you will receive the high resolution photos from trip to share with your friends and family.
What is your cancellation policy?
We require full payment at the time of booking to reserve your spot. You may cancel up to 2 weeks before the trip date for a full refund. If we need to cancel the trip due to unfavorable ocean conditions, you will receive a full refund.
March - May
La Jolla Cove, CA (depart from Mission Bay)
Number of Guests:
9am - 5pm
To inquire about dates not currently on our expedition calendar or a private trip, please contact us