I can hear the rhythm of my breathing and watch the bubbles float to the torrent surface above, the occasional crash of the cage against the stern gets the heart racing and yet there is certain calm at only two feet under, a silence, an engulfing feeling of quiet anticipation. We have truly just entered a different realm. There is a sense of majestic beauty, the presence of something powerful waiting in the blue abyss, an apex predator sixteen million years evolved, but where? This is the feeling I had first time inside the cage, it is the gateway to the underwater world, an intimate view into the home of the infamous Great White Shark.
For the last two weeks I have had the absolute pleasure of shark cage diving on two different occasions with Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions. Each trip consisted of three days cage diving at the Neptune Islands with a quick detour to Hopkins Island for one of my favourite things ever, swimming with Australian Sea Lions. The Neptunes are situated 65km off the coast of Port Lincoln and the Eyre Peninsula. Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions are live aboard style dive journeys that combine conservation, history, facts, photography, tracking and tagging science, and of course sharks.
Diving with Great Whites is a life goal for many an intrepid traveller and almost all scuba divers. It is one of those wildlife encounters that intrigues interest and often gets a good conversation started. It has been stated as an incredibly awe inspiring encounter, a humbling experience, an exciting and adrenaline pumping rush, an overwhelming sense of connectedness with the natural beauty of the oceanic realm. Sounds a little cheesy, but honestly it’s pretty incredible sitting in the silence of the ocean peering out from an aluminum cage and watching as a four meter Great White cruises over a perfect sand bottom surrounded by a teeming ecosystem. Giant Blue Groupers, Smooth Rays, Eagle Rays, Horseshoe Leather Jackets, Trivali, and King Fish to name a few call the wonderful Neptune Islands home.
Shark Diving is a huge tourism asset for South Australia. There is the opportunity to dive with sharks all year round with the winter and summer months being the most active. It is a major draw card for people visiting Port Lincoln and the Eyre Peninsula. There are only few places you can recreationally dive with Great Whites worldwide and having this unique experience available is something special.
In January 2014 I spent three weeks exploring, experiencing, and documenting the tourism opportunities possible on the Eyre Peninsula, from Shark Diving, to Sea Lion swims, to Tuna and the industry, to national parks, beaches, and toughest of all sun tanning. It was an incredible portion of the ‘Wildlife Caretaker – Best Jobs’ contract and one I will forever enjoy reminiscing. One of the highlights of that time was having the chance to get into the cage and having the opportunity to come back and do it again has been amazing. Diving with Great Whites is truly awesome!
Over the last couple days I have been bottom cage diving at both the North and South Neptune Islands. The dives on average are a max depth of about 27 meters over 30 min in 17 degree water. There is a lot of life and great visibility. Slowly dropping from the surface in a small cage with three other people and a box full of tuna guts subtly attracting the attention of a massive shark makes for quite the Monday morning. It kinda feels like being in a bag of catnip dangled from a short string.
The bottom cage experience is something I highly recommend, especially for divers. It is generally a lot quieter with a lot less movement allowing for better photo set ups. It is also an intimate close up with inquisitive sharks and often produces some seriously good photos.
One of the best parts of the bottom cage is the perspective of the environment and the depth, being able to look at a Great White cruising above and below. Having the rocks and sea grass and sand and wildlife gives amazing perspective to the sheer size and girth of the sharks. Having something to compare them to makes such a difference. The majestic silence of the bottom cage is something truly unique. It is an incredible thing being one in an environment that (without a cage) you probably wouldn’t enter. The Neptunes are special marine environment and make for a pretty damn cool dive!
The last few days have been memorable to say the least, another amazing experience as Wildlife Caretaker in South Australia. This state has so much to offer and I feel privileged having the opportunity to share it with you. If you have never been Shark Cage Diving I highly suggest you give it a go. It inspires interesting conversation for a reason. It is one of those bucketlist trips, the chance to do something different, something that may scare you but at the same time liberate those primal fears. There is not one person that exits the cage thinking and feeling differently from when they entered. Shark cage Diving will change your perspective and allowing yourself to try is the biggest challenge.
The cage awaits and the sharks are here. Come say hello to Bruce.