There’s a great white shark off the coast of Guadalupe Island. According to Michael Domeier with the Marine Conservation Science Institute, the 12-foot-long shark is a young adult and is new to the area. But there’s something special about this specific shark.
It’s one of many great whites that migrate to the waters of Guadalupe Island, which is known to be a gathering spot for these fascinating creatures. The MCSI maintains a photo-ID database, using it to identify sharks by their distinctive features. The guy who takes a photo of the shark has the right to name it, although most of them are just numbered. So what is so special about this 12-foot-long great white? It’s also known as #24, or if you want to call it by its name – Kobe Bryant.
The MCSI honored the late great Kobe Bryant by naming one of the ocean’s most fearsome predators after an NBA legend. But that’s not the only connection between the Lakers‘ icon and these beautiful creatures from the deep. The other one is of basketball nature.
It’s no secret Kobe was fascinated with great white sharks. He even studied the way they hunt seals, to get an edge when going up against top-tier NBA performers. What better way to do it than to study one of the deadliest marine predators. And what better way to study them than from up close and personal. So that’s what Bryant did – he went cage diving with Great Whites.
I get a call from Rob Pelinka, and Rob is saying, ‘hey, do you want to meet me and Kobe, we’re in the ocean, we’re going to swim with Great white sharks. I’m like ‘what?’ Rob puts me on FaceTime, and Kobe’s there. He’s like, ‘man, we’re about to swim with Great white sharks.’Corey Maggette, Legends of Sports
The way Corey Maggette describes it, this was Kobe’s way of overcoming the ultimate fear, in order to become fearless on the basketball court. Bryant was like ‘for me to be like that, I’m going to swim with great white sharks.’ Corey was having none of it.
I thought this guy was out of his mind. They’re begging me to come, and I’m like ‘listen, man, you guys are crazy, there’s no way you’re getting me to come to swim with Great white sharks.’ So now Rob is on the phone, and he’s like ‘Corey I am so scared, he wants me to swim in the ocean with Great white sharks.’Corey Maggette, Legends of Sports
Both Kobe and Rob Pelinka ended up diving with sharks, and according to the director of communications for Shark Diver Cindy Michaels, they both spent ‘a good short chunk of the day, hanging out on the boat and in the cages.’
Today, in honor of Kobe Bryant, there’s a 12-foot predator swimming near the coast of Guadalupe Island. It wears number 24 and is at the top of the food chain just as the guy wearing No.24 in purple and gold was.