Day 133 – Cage Diving with Great White Sharks

We’d survived the night in the muddy, mosquito infested car park without being woken by police/rangers. Even though I was totally destroyed by mosquitos while cooking instant noodles last night (OK to spend $800 on a shark cage dive tour, not OK to spend $10 on fresh food for dinner), I wasn’t scratching myself crazy. Yet. Our string of amazing clear skies were also at an end it seemed… At first I thought it was just dark because it was early (the sun hadn’t risen yet), but it was dark clouds. Unlucky.

20130923_RCH_282420130923_RCH_2752 20130923_RCH_2769The tour started at (an anti-socially early) 6:30AM from the Marina Hotel in Port Lincoln – I’m sure I’m not the only one that dislikes having to use an alarm clock… From the marina it was a 3-hour transit to the New Zealand fur seal breeding colony, which is where the great white sharks like to hang out. I don’t know why, but I was expecting it to be out in the middle of the ocean, not just off the shore of some small rocky islands. I have a new respect/fear of these coastal waters – I (wrongly) thought that great whites were further out to sea…

20130923_RCH_2762 20130923_RCH_2755 20130923_RCH_2763 20130923_RCH_2757DCIM101GOPROWe were educated about the right ways to use the cage (no sticking fingers/limbs out of the cage, in case you were wondering – have a look at the damage on the openings from the shark teeth!). There is a large opening to look out of, a handrail to hold on to (can’t hold on to the cage, fingers protrude) and another rail on the floor to put your toes under. The captain said that this boat was one of the few that were allowed to throw chum/fish guts into the ocean to attract the sharks to our location. They were also using fish innards (whole) on a rope as bait for the sharks.

20130923_RCH_2778I’m not really sure why, but the captain caught a couple of fish, most he killed and threw in to the water (again, to attract the sharks), but one we kept and the first mate filleted. I’m mostly unsure why we couldn’t catch a few more! The captain made a good point about not wanting to accidentally hook a shark, which is fair enough… At least they were good enough to share some of that fish with us (Risa took home a small doggy bag).

Groups of four were lowered into the cage for about 30-minutes at a time. I tactically chose to be in the second group – I didn’t want to be first (no one did, it seemed), but at the same time, I didn’t want to wait around all day either. The first great white was sighted (damn, it’s a big animal) so they (tentatively) entered the cage.

20130923_RCH_2781 DCIM101GOPROSome of the people in the first group were nervous/scared about getting into the cage, but Risa and I weren’t – we were eagerly anticipating it! I kind of missed most of the first groups dive as I was getting ready and not really paying attention, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Firstly, the cage was surrounded by fish. I probably should have asked what type of fish… but to be honest, they weren’t pretty, so I wasn’t that interested! They however were more than interested in the chum that was being thrown overboard to attract the sharks.

DCIM101GOPROWe got our first sighting of a great white literally just as we had all just finished entering the cage. It didn’t seem all that interested in us to be honest. It circled us once, then disappeared into the depths below us. We worked together as a team to spot the next great white, which felt like an eternity in these waters, which were cold even with a 6mm wetsuit (including boots!). There was a fair amount of current in the water, even though the sea was rather calm. If you let go of the handrail (or foot rail), you would crash into someone else in the cage.

DCIM101GOPROWe had three different sharks visit us, the largest of which was just over 5m long! It was nearly as large as the whale sharks that we swam with in Exmouth all those months ago…

We stayed in the water for about 30 minutes, and were visited about 10 times by sharks. Sometimes they came quite close and were attacking the bait, other times they just swam past and kept their distance. The strong current combined with me moving around the cage like I had ADHD trying to spot the next shark ended up making me feel quite ill. At first I thought it was going to clear after I burped a few times (I shouldn’t have had a can of soft drink just before going into the water). But, eventually, one of the burps followed through and I’d released my own chum for the school of fish (sorry to be graphic, but due to all the dark grapes that I’d had for breakfast, it was also the same red colour as the chum, too. So much so that Risa didn’t realise it wasn’t chum!). By the time our thirty-minutes was up, we were very ready to exit. My head was freezing and I was feeling a little tender in my stomach.

20130923_RCH_2791 20130923_RCH_2813 20130923_RCH_2816This particular shark was the one we saw the most of. It had massive battle wounds on its head – deep and violent looking gashes that were thought to have been inflicted by a killer whale! I would have thought it was from another great white, but what would I know, I’m no marine biologist/tour operator (I’m unemployed… and homeless).

After lunch (BBQ chicken, deli meats, salads, bread rolls) I waited patiently on the top deck of the boat waiting for a photo of the shark bursting through the water, violently attacking the bait with teeth bared. It wasn’t to be, sadly. Generally the shark circled close to the surface and took the bait without getting too far out of the water. It did happen once while I was watching, but this particular time it came up suddenly from below, so I didn’t see the shadow approaching (and thus wasn’t prepared to take a photo – rookie).

20130923_RCH_2821The last bait was fed to the wounded shark, and the last group exited the cage. The weather had changed while we’d been there (we’d been full circle, crappy weather when leaving, beautiful weather on open water, and now back to crappy weather) and the swell had picked up considerably. The swell was also such that it caused the boat to rock sideways quite aggressively. I was still feeling a little average, so it was touch-and-go for me for a while. A few dry retches, but couldn’t follow through. Once we made it back into the calmer waters in the bay, I immediately felt better (and then proceeded to demolish several small sausage rolls and other oven baked goodies).

Overall positive impressions.  The sharks are pretty damn awesome. It is very, very cool to see such a powerful creature up close (and in its natural habitat). The tour (Calypso Star) was professional.

Overall negative impressions. The experience isn’t as extreme or as intense as it’s made to look on television travel shows, which was a little disappointing. It’s kind of expensive (regular price is $495, though we only paid $395 each). Three hours travel to/from the location.

Not wanting to stay in that mosquito pit again, we headed a little north towards Tumby Bay, which we will check out in the light of day tomorrow.

132日目  9月23日(月) ホオジロザメとご対面!

行ってきましたシャークダイブ!!

世界でこのツアーに参加できるのは、ここ南オーストラリアのポートリンカンと南アフリカのみ。

ひとり$400とかなり高級なツアーだけど、一生に一度、人生一度きりなので思い切って行ってきました!

あさ6:30に港に集合。15人程でかなり少人数でラッキー。

船には、キッチンもシャワーも2つ完備されていて快適。 船内に乗り込むとスタッフがコーヒーマシンでカプチーノを煎れてくれました。

安全のブリーフィングの後は、クロワッサンとハムとチーズのトーストとフルーツの盛り合わせの朝食。

ホオジロザメは、たいてかなり沖合の深い海にいるので、そのポイントまでは、ここから2時間半から3時間ほどかかります。  その間は、船内で色々なサメを題材にしたドキュメンタリーを観てサメのお勉強。 くわしくは、こちらをご参考に。http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%9B%E3%83%9B%E3%82%B8%E3%83%AD%E3%82%B6%E3%83%A1

ドキュメンタリーでは、サメがいかに人間をしょっちゅう襲い、補食しているかなど誤った誤解を解く様なものが多くあったけど、もちろんサーファーが襲われたものなど、ビデオつきで紹介されるとやっぱこわい。  でも大抵の場合、ウエットスーツをきてプカプカサーフボードに浮かんでいる人間を、大好物のアザラシちゃんと勘違いしてガブっといくケースが大半。

それよりもいかに多くの人間が、フカヒレスープの金儲けの為に違法に、何億匹という数のサメを毎年捕獲しているかという事がとっても印象的でした。 大半は、中国系マフィアの財源らしい、、

これからは、ぜったいフカヒレスープ食べない!
とはいっても、やはり野生動物。肉食。 もちろん人間をがぶりとやっちゃう危険性はもちろんあるので、私たちは、安全な檻の中に入ってサメを観察します。
時間半ほどでいつものスポットに到着。

ここは、2つの小さな島があってその間の場所。岩辺には、たくさんのアシカちゃんが寝そべっているのが見えます。

たくさんのアシカちゃん=サメのキッチン/ダイニング!

スタッフが、魚の血の固まりや、大きな魚のえらを魚油にひたしたものを使ってサメをおびき寄せます。

ケージは、だいたい3mx3mほどの大きさで、船に固定されていて、一度に4人が中に入ります。
入る時の装いは、ウエットスーツ、ダイブ様のブーツ、ゴーグル、15kgの重りをしょって、船から空気が送られてくるレスピレーターと呼ばれる呼吸器をくわえて中に入ります。

ケージの上部は、水面なのでもし浮上して普通に呼吸したい場合は、いつでも水の上に出る事ができるので安心。 (でもいつくるか分からないので私はあがらなかったけど!)
私はちは、グループ2。 30分ほどして最初のグループが上がって、いよいよ私たちの番!

重りがイタい、水がめっちゃ冷たい!!!そして波もあるので、ケージの中で揺らされ、ロスくんは初酔い。

水に入るとすぐに、エサに群がる大量の魚!   しかも小魚じゃなくてハマチとか、鯛くらいの魚。   これ釣って、お土産にもって帰らせて〜というより超大量で手でつかめそうだし、写真をとる為の隙間から何匹か入ってくるので、逃がしてあげたりもしてました。
そしてそしてついに、その時は、やってきた!!!!
やつがきたー!!!!!!

何処からともなく巨大なホオジロザメが!!!

体長は、5mほどのかなり大きなホオジロザメ!  体には、生々しい戦いの後の歯形がいくつかついていて、いたそ〜う。
大きなとんがった歯は、もちろんこわいけど、それよりも大きな真っ黒なまん丸の目がとってもかわいらしくて、初めて見た一瞬の怖さより、わーい会えて良かったー♡ 的な感動と愛くるしさの感情の方が強かったかな。
(まぁ自分が、ほぼ安全な檻に入っていると信じているからだと思うけど。)
私たちも水中に30分程いましたが、体の傷や大きさの違いから、おそらく3匹の異なるサメが交互に私たちに会いにきてくれたようです。
でもやっぱりガブッと巨大な口で魚に食らいつく瞬間は、野生のギラリとした緊迫感と怖さが見れました。 ぜったい噛まれたくないわ〜

サメちゃんたちは、かなり自由なので、現れた〜と思うとすーっと海底に消えて行ったり、また帰ってきてガブッとしていったり、いつどの方向から出没するか分からないので、けっこう水中での待ち時間は、長く感じます。(なにより水が冷たくて重りがイタい!)

後ほど、教えてくれたのですが、何度かロスが水面に上がっているのは気づいてたけど、このとき実は一度ゲロっていたらしい。 そしてその時、水中に浮遊していたのは、魚をおびき寄せるエサの一部だと思ってたけど、実は、ロスのゲロだったらしい、、、、、笑

それでも30分程の間に10回程は、姿をとってもすぐそばで見る事ができて大満足!

水から上がった後は、ソッコー暖かいシャワーを浴びてて体を温め、着替え。

あったかいシャワーで最高、、、、

その後は、チキンとサラダのランチを食べ今度は、水上から観察!
水上だとジャンプする姿が見れるので、また違った迫力がありこれまた良いです。

ビデオで見るとかなり凶暴でケージに体当たりしたりしてるけど、これはなんかをして怒らせてるのかな?  実際には、かなりおだやかに目の前を泳いでいました。 かなりガン見してたので、何度か目があったかも♡ うふふ
帰りは、波が出てきてかなり揺れたので、船酔いタブレットを飲んだけどちょっとぐったり。(でも今回私はゲロらなかったぞ!)

スタッフさんがキッシュやサラミやらチーズやら色々美味しそうなスナックを出してくれるけど、ぜんぜん食べられなかったのが唯一残念だったかな笑
何はともあれ、無事生還そしてサメの大ファンになりました。

クロコダイルの方が、カワイさ一切なしで恐ろしい形相をしている!

帰りはお兄さんにお願いして、釣れちゃったハマチ1切れお土産に頂きました♡ いえーいありがとう!
今日は、もうすでにぐったり疲れきったのでねまーす!

また一つ一生の思いでができた1日でした☆☆

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One response

  1. Incredible mate, simply incredible. I’m fascinated by Sharks, and Great Whites in particular. I also have a healthy fear for them…which doesn’t really gel well with my sport of Paddleboarding. Ah well, looks like an amazing experience.

    September 24, 2013 at 08:56

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