SHARK?! Where?! Did somebody say Shark?! Ssshhhh!! Don’t say it too loudly, the boat will roll over as everyone comes to one side for a look!!
This is what I learnt when we went shark diving.
Ok, so this was the Big ticket item for this trip! This was the money shot, the jackpot, the winner!!
Have any of you ever been on or in the water with sharks? Have any of you even seen one from a boat?! I don’t mean any shark, I mean the “toughest”, the “meanest”, the “nastiest” sharks ever to swim the earth? Have you? If you have please tell me, because I want to know if your reaction was like mine?! Have any of you ever seen a Great White Shark, “Carcharodon Carcharias”? Really. Have you? Did you scream out “SHARK!!” At the top of your lungs?! Hahahaha.
Well I have, and I did!! I’m not frightened to say it! I was so excited I nearly jumped out of the boat! This would have to have been one of the absolute highlights of my life. These creatures are amazing. Even with all the hype, and the myth, and the legends that we’ve all heard, it really does not compare to actually seeing them for real in their natural environment.
Words cannot describe that first encounter, that moment when one swims under the boat, and you ask the person next to you “did you see that?” I wasn’t dreaming, not at all. Kirsten and I saw the first shark, and it was breathtaking. Literally. It was surreal, I don’t know any other ways to describe it. It really was amazing.
Ok, so a disclaimer now. If you don’t want to hear someone bang on and blush and gush about great white sharks, then stop reading now. Because that is what I am going to do. I am going to try and convey the experience we had, or I had on Sunday. It is going to be a long blog, and let me tell you it was an experience, and one that won’t be forgotten too quickly.
So the boring stuff. We get picked up in a taxi to be ferried down to our craft, which is a converted fishing boat, it’s a (get the Gilligans Island music ready here!!) 3 hour cruise! A 3hr cruise!! So sit right back and you’ll hear a tale….. I digress!! Sorry! Hahaha!! No, it really was a 3 hour cruise out to our destination, the Northern Neptune Islands. About 70 kilometers south of Port Lincoln. To where, supposedly some of the biggest Great White Sharks in the world live, or hang around. Not too sure how else to describe it.
Safety briefing, meet the crew and we are off. Its early, people are still asleep, and it is still dark to top it all off!! But here we go. Now it wasn’t perfect seas, but it wasn’t rough seas, not in my book anyway. But of course there were seasick people. Which must be the worst feeling knowing that you are not heading back to land to get off that evil seasick vessel for at least another 10 hours, oh the pity. None, harden up!! We are going to see Great White Sharks!!
And we pull up and the crew, who are fantastic by the way, well I think they are, they put up with all my crappy stories all the way out!! Start setting up for the sharks. This involves dropping the cage in the water giving us a quick scuba breathing lesson and then it’s blood and guts in the water time let’s see if we can attract sharks except we see a shark as soon as we pull up!! That’s right folks!! As soon as the boat stops and the anchor drops, Kirsten and I see a shark!! And it is a monster!! Well it looks like a monster, because that is what we have been bought up to expect! A horrible, nasty, biting, thrashing killing machine. Except they’re not. No. This one, and it is about a 3.5 meter great white, just cruises under the boat. Like we aren’t even there!
And it is the most magnificent, the most intriguing, the most spectacular looking animal. I would nearly go so far to say sharks, or great white sharks at least, are beautiful. This thing is perfect. It has perfect dimensions. Everything about it is awesome. And it just cruises by. Without even causing a ripple, and it would have been centimeters under the water. And to be quite honest I really don’t know what or how I felt at that moment. Except to say I yelled “SHARK!!” And everyone ran to us!! Because everyone, I imagine, felt the same as me. They wanted to see a shark. And then it was gone!!
Yes that same creature that we had all gone on that boat to see, and that we had all got a short glimpse of simply disappeared. Just like that!!
But there was more. More to come, and they got bigger, and they got more curious, not much, but they certainly put on a show. At this point in time I have to say I’m not exactly sure what I expected from this. Did I expect to touch one? Did I expect to see them jumping out of the water? Did I expect them to come up the boat for us all to have a pat?! I don’t know? I really had no idea what to expect at all!!
But I sure got my money’s worth. In my opinion anyway. I know there were people on the boat who didn’t reckon they got their money’s worth! Well they must have pretty exciting lives, or it takes a lot to get their adrenaline running, because I tell you what, I’ve said it before, I got my money’s worth. I got to see the worlds most dangerous (reputedly) predator in its natural environment. Where it rules. Nothing beats it, ( well we found this out to be wrong, but more on that later!!) it is the supreme eating killing machine. Apparently.
Great White Sharks are beautiful. I can’t describe them any other way. In their natural environment where you can see them clearly, they are a beautiful fish. They are huge, don’t get me wrong!! They are enormous. The 3m great white we saw looked just as big as the 4.5m great white we saw!! And the guys on the boat said they had seen a 6.5m one!! Imagine that?! For their environment they are perfect.
Now the guys on the boat put on a show, and it’s a ripper. Complete with all the blood and guts that you would expect to see. There is lots of blood, there is lots of guts to try and lure these magnificent creatures in closer for us all to see. But do you know what, these critters are wary. Very wary. Or I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t they were shy. I couldn’t help feeling that the sharks were just a little shy. They would come in, under their own pace, and check us out!! Almost a try before you bite type of thing! But they never stayed for long, and we certainly didn’t get to shake hands with them!!
So they put us into groups of divers, and we get in the cage for our roughly 40 minutes per group to try and get some shark action. The kids and I were in the last group, and my thinking was it would give us maximum time to watch on the surface, learn from all the others before us, and there would only be the 3 of us in the cage, as all the other groups had 6!! I thought I was being pretty smart. But it turns out one lot of people have been so sick they’ve decided not to dive, so Chloe, the dive organiser, asks me if we mind going next! Hmmm. What to do. I was looking forward to only being in the cage with the kids. But, ah, why not. Means we might get back into town early, and there had been a fair bit of shark action so far, so let’s do it.
So we wetsuit up, not very flattering, but we’re not here for looks, get our masks on and down we go. It is like being in a washing machine!! Scuba diving is nothing like this. When you scuba dive, even on the roughest days, it is calm under the water. In this cage thing you are at the mercy of the waves, the swell and the rocking of the boat!! It was hard bloody work just to stay put!! Let alone see a shark!! But we managed to get some sort of used to it, and then comes the shark!
You could hear everyone in the cage moan or yell, I’m not sure which, and with a diving regulator in your gob, it’s pretty hard to talk, and for the fact you would swallow water if you tried!! But everyone made a noise!!
The first one was a fair way off. Visibility was excellent, maybe 10-15metres in the freezing cold southern ocean, which amazed me, but out in the distance about 8m away swam a 2.5 to 3m Great White Shark! And it was magnificent. I have to say it was exactly like you see on tv on docos about them, except this wasn’t a doco!! This was us in a cage with a Great White swimming nearby.
So this perfect killing machine just cruises by us, not the slightest bit interested in us, but checking out the scene. And then it was gone! We strained, we turned, we looked, we tried to draw far away in closer, but it didn’t work! The shark was gone. What now? Surely it would come back?
But it didn’t, and we sat, or stood, in the cage freezing our little selves to death and straining and looking into the water trying to see more sharks. But no matter what the guys on the surface did, none were to come. At least not for another hour or so!!
By my reckoning, they were leaving people in the cage for about 40-45 minutes. We’d been in there over an hour!! And then suddenly out of nowhere, there was another one. Just cruising in.
It checked out the bait they’d thrown in from the surface, and disappeared. But wait, then it was back and it was chasing the bait! This really was awesome! It was on josh and my side of the cage, and it was coming straight at us in the cage! The videos were rolling and we got it on video. It was unbelievable. This is what we had come to see, and as quick as it appeared, it disappeared again!! Back into the darkness of the ocean we were sharing with it!! I was breathless and strained once again to try and see if it was coming back, willing it too!! But it was gone.
So out of the cage we got. Having just experienced the most exhilarating experience I think I have ever had! It was amazing.
The guys on the surface were awesome. They asked if we’d seen it, and the skipper apologized we didn’t get more viewing time, and even offered for me to get back in the cage later on if I wanted too if more came around. These guys were awesome. But I was happy. I’d seen a Great White Shark in its natural environment, doing what they do best, stalking, attacking and eating it’s prey, albeit a fake one!!
Now for the rest of the day as others went through the cage, the crew on the boat worked their hardest to make sure everyone had the same or a similar experience to us. And we did see more sharks, 4 in total for the day, including one who continued to come back every now and then for another look.
Something about this shark, and the skipper seemed to think it was a young shark, or a new shark to them, even at 3m in length, but it wasn’t grey, or the pale blue they seem to be. This shark was a tan color. We’d seen another one the same at the start, and I have always thought they were a light blue or grey color. Not the case apparently!!
Now about the time the crew are starting to wind up the last divers in the cage, and start thinking about another 3 hour cruise (!), a seal showed up!
Only a little seal, or a young seal, but a seal nonetheless. Playing around the back of the boat, with not a care in the world. Until this new great white shark also turned up. Now I thought, here we go, we are really in for a nature display.
Seal, shark food. Shark, seal predator. Put the together it has to get good, doesn’t it?!
Well….no! Apparently not! This seal, and I kid you not, and also have all the people on the boat and in the cage, who luckily witnessed it under water, as witnesses, this seal, one seal, one gutsy little seal, shark food right? Nope!! Hahahah!! He chased the shark!!
I am fair dinkum! This little seal, against the mightiest predator to swim the oceans, and the little seal chased it away!! It was as funny as you could get!! Loved it! The shark bolted, with the seal in tow! All of us were amazed. Just something to top off an already fantastic day.
People if you get the opportunity to do it, please do. It is brilliant.