Shark Cage Diving - meeting the big fellas.
When I used to surf in the olden days, I’d sit out the back at Middleton waiting for the next set of waves and wonder what terrible monsters lurked beneath.
Anyone who's waited for the next set at Middleton knows you’ve got plenty of time to think…and perhaps write a screenplay, whittle a dolphin or take a return trip to Bali.
Once, while scuba diving, I was trying to winkle a crayfish from its lair when I looked up and saw a shark. By the time I realised it was a harmless Wobbegong I’d already squealed.
So, prior to heading to the Eyre Peninsula for a spot of cage diving, my main experiences with sharks involved pointless anxiety and shameful squealing.
To get to the dive site it's a 2 hour and 45 minute boat trip from Port Lincoln to the Neptune Islands. There's a good reason that this small archipelago is the ideal spot - there are sizeable seal colonies here and White Pointers and their ilk graze on the seals that play and fish in the surrounding waters.
We were blessed with an extraordinarily good day with clear, sunny skies, light wind and only a slight swell.
We dropped anchor in a sheltered area and the crew prepared the equipment.
Now, one thing I learnt from ‘80s TV ads is that a screen security door will prevent a shark from breaking into my house. (Of course, it could lift up a couple of roof tiles and enter through the trap door but this seems unlikely).
The cage is much sturdier than any screen door I’ve seen, so as I donned a wetsuit, grabbed a regulator and climbed in, I felt totally at ease – sort of. I was ready to enjoy a dip in the sea with some man-eaters.
When the sharks turned up it was easy to see what all the fuss is about. They’re huge!
Slowly they circled the boat, each time coming a little closer. One even turned and approached the cage before cruising by beneath us.
The sharks came and went the whole time we were submerged, until our time was up and we reluctantly allowed the next group of four to take their turn.
But even above the water the action didn’t stop. Now that the sharks had arrived we could see them quite clearly, circling the boat and possibly scaring the wits out of the cage’s new occupants. Over near the island we could see seals splashing in the water and clambering over the rocks.
This is a truly thrilling experience, and as each group emerged from the cage there was a real buzz of excitement, everyone relating their own unique encounter.
The trouble is if I ever find myself out the back at Middleton again, I now know what lurks beneath.
Better take a screen door.
Nuts and Bolts
- The cage stays on the surface and is entered from an opening on top.
- Air lines are attached to tanks on the boat so there’s no need to lug heavy equipment.
- No qualifications or previous diving experience are required.
- Tours leave early in the morning and return in the evening.