Cage Diving with Great White Sharks is an awe inspiring experience. No matter how afraid you may think you are, this is something incredible and unique. Honestly as crazy as it sounds, I have seen the faces of the people exiting the cage, a look of purity, a loss for words. These people are stunned, they’re simply taken aback, being face to face with an iconic figure and perfectly adapted apex predator in its own environment. Bearing witness to the actual majestic beauty of a shark cruising effortlessly through the big blue, feeling the presence a 15 million year old survivor, a creature unique patrolling an ecosystem extreme, this is it, you have just entered the world of the Great White Shark and it is absolutely beautiful.
There are only four places in the world you can recreationally dive with White Sharks, two of which are by far the most popular, South Africa and South Australia, the others Mexico and New Zealand. The opportunity to dive with Great Whites is in a cage, the cages are usually about three meters by eight by three, supporting four to six keen divers at a time. There are currently about fifteen to eighteen operators in the world offering cage diving with White Sharks. The cages are often made of aluminium and are there for your protection, as hard as I try to convince you shark diving is not the most deadly thing ever, I will admit that having the cage is 100% necessary for every first time White Shark viewing enthusiast. Cage diving is an incredibly good way to get up close and personal with White Sharks in their own environment, allowing us to take that one in a million photograph and share the life changing experience with our friends and family across the globe.
I am going to focus this post on South Australia and the unique opportunity we have to view White Sharks in their own environment. South Australia plays host to an amazingly beautiful and remote marine ecosystem known as the Neptune Islands. This small set of two granite rock outcroppings is the perfect place to view Great Whites almost every day of the year. The islands support a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals and attract sharks from across the Southern Ocean. The location is the perfect stage for everything you could ever imagine shark cage diving to be like. It is deep, way off shore, remote, barren, and incredibly photogenic. I am still waiting to get that perfect shot of a shark breeching at full power looking to surprise an un-expecting seal, fully Planet Earth type stuff, and this is the spot to see it. The Neptunes is a beautiful place and I feel privileged to have been able to visit the area first hand, let alone diving with Great Whites while there!
Now contrary to popular demand, viewing a Great White is never guaranteed anywhere. The sharks do not live at the seal colonies, they hunt. Most White Sharks visit the Neptunes for only an average of 28 days every year with approximately 150 sharks visiting annually. There is no best time of year to visit, however the SA summer is probably the most weather friendly (Nov.-March). The majority of sharks seen at the Neptunes are mature ranging from 3-6 meters in length and averaging an estimated 6-10 years in age. The islands are a perfect location for viewing, researching, and tagging sharks, allowing the scientific community to gain additional knowledge of their habits and more importantly share this information with the public. The White Shark is a fascinating animal and people want to learn more about it.
SARDI (South Australian Research and Development Institute) and CISRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) have taken a leading role in the scientific research of Great White Sharks visiting the Neptune Islands. There have a number of sharks acoustically and satellite tagged in recent years allowing researchers the opportunity to track the sharks movements and learn as much as possible about their habits and tendencies. The information will help determine regional patterns in shark activity as well as identifying key habitats and population structures in Australian waters. Additional information can be referenced here and from the link provided at the bottom of this post.
Through the tracking results and location specific information gathered scientists have been able to determine that there are seemingly two different shark populations navigating the coastal waters of Australia. The Neptune Islands sit almost in the middle of these two areas and act as a cross roads for a number of sharks annual migrations. The White Shark populations are split between western and eastern Australia with a number also being tracked far out into the open ocean leading some to believe White Sharks migrate globally between oceans. Please keep in mind that I am no marine biologist and all of this information is being shared through the knowledge I have gained from research and conversations with other White Shark enthusiasts.
There is a great opportunity for additional research and development to be executed by international conservation teams with a focus on learning more about Great Whites. Currently the amount of information accessible to the public is good and allows us to become more aware of the threat we pose to Great White populations across the globe. We are also able to share this information with the public and through recreational cage diving, documentaries, television shows, photographs and social media channels, grow the international community of people dedicated to helping the Great Whites.
South Australia has an incredibly unique and wonderful tourism asset with cage diving. It is such a great opportunity to attract a large number of domestic and international travellers to the state. Truly there are only a few places in the world where this type of adventure activity is possible, with South Australians being some of the most progressive and leading figures in the industry as a whole. Tourism is growing dramatically in SA and shark cage diving is one of the things contributing to this positive growth.
There are currently three operators offering this trip from Port Lincoln in South Australia (where I’m writing this post). I highly suggest you check out their websites and book a trip to jump in the cage. I promise you, it will be an awe inspiring and life changing experience. See you in the water!
Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions – https://www.rodneyfox.com.au/
Adventure Bay Charters – http://adventurebaycharters.com.au/
Calypso Star Shark Cage Diving – http://www.sharkcagediving.com.au/
Some Additional Reading for those whom may be interested:
SARDI: A Message from the Deep
CISRO: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation