Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bec's Day 27. Neptune Islands

Better than I could of ever of imagined (Shark Dive Day 2)
Not a bad night’s sleep, I must have been tired. I was awake, dressed, and up on deck by 7am. Just excited I guess. TJ (Bait master extraordinaire) and Dan were busy setting up the bait and cages. TJ was told by Andrew if he got everything done by 7:30 we would move out from the islands (as they are currently being reviewed as a marine park) and he would get in a quick troll for tuna. Unfortunately, he wasn’t lucky this time, the tuna just weren’t biting.

By the time we finished brekkie, we found ourselves back in the bay and anchored with cages being dropped into the water. I was on the top deck when Dan called out to me he though he saw a shark at the back of the boat. We all eagerly searched the ocean for our first glimpse. It only took minutes and the first shark was spotted. I managed to fire off the only photo (it might be a grey and white blur under the water), but it was the first shark sighting and everybody’s adrenalin went into overdrive.

When I first got into the cage I must admit it wasn’t easy breathing with the regulator, and I did struggle with it. Within seconds, I had two sharks circling the cage; they were both male and looked about 4mtrs and 4.5mtrs. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen, they came so close to the cage I could have touched them. One gave a big display catching TJ off guard and getting the bait; his head launched out of the water and then splashed the back of the boat as he turned with his tail. For such a huge creature I was so surprised at how quick they came up from the deep out of nowhere. I was in total awe of these massive creatures, and had no fear at all. I was even putting my arm out of the cage to get photos, pulling it back in when they came past, even though they never showed any aggression at all. I was so impressed at how well my little underwater camera worked that Shane got me for Christmas. I will post up so pictures and short video with this post.

My first big shark

My second dive after lunch was a much more relaxed affair. I found breathing with the regulator more comfortable this time, as Patto gave me some good tips before I got back in the water. There were two more sharks now and they were slightly bigger than the first two. These two were nearly 5 metres in length and much bigger in weight. At one stage the bigger shark chasing the bait ran into the cage. I wasn’t able to get a photo as we were all knocked backwards off our feet.

Nearly got the bait
Another very exciting moment was when a shark came flying straight up from below us with gills flared and teeth fully extended. He then took the tuna in a half breech. This was so unbelievable and would have been an awesome sight from the deck, I doubt anyone would have caught it on camera as he came out of nowhere and was as fast as lightening. I did get a photo from below showing only the half a shark left underwater in the breach though. I was in the cage for about 45 – 50 minutes this time and it was so cold even with my wetsuit on, I then had to get out. It was a hot shower on deck in the suit and a cup of tea to then help me warm up.

I was in my wetsuit all day, and couldn’t wait for a shower. At 5pm I got in one more dive before tea. Thank god I held in there and did this last dive as it was insane. Unfortunately my camera’s batteries ran flat half way through, but I am sure I got some good shots before that. I struggled again with the regulator, and every breath was a real effort. I was constantly fighting the urge to ditch and get out. I had to go to the top a few times to take a breath of fresh air and clear my mask. If the sharks weren’t putting on such an amazing show, I know I wouldn’t have been able to stay in for so long. They were coming in eye to eye and breaking away at just the last minute, it’s like they are as curious with me as I am with them. We had at least 4 x very large sharks all feeding at the same time; they were dodging each other and darting all over the place. I wanted to stay in there forever, but it was getting late and they guys up top needed a break.
After the most amazing shower ever (I needed to wash my hair as it was full of berley) we sat around over a glass of red, and swapped our stories. I sat with Andrew as he went through all his photos of the sharks identifying and cataloguing them, word is so far, it was the biggest day in over 10 years. This expedition is the last of the season, usually by now the sharks have tapered off to 2 or 3 a day. Today it looks like we were visited by over 15 different sharks, and two were females that are not usually seen here until the winter months.

While waiting for dinner Jen showed us some footage she took while in the bottom cage on the sea floor today. You need to have a dive certificate for this cage. The surface cage has an air line straight from the ship, so even without a dive certificate you are able to still dive and view the sharks in their domain. There were a few more sharks on the bottom that didn’t come up, so it was great to see her footage. It showed at least 4 x big sharks circling the cage down there, huge rays, port Jackson sharks, wobbegongs, and millions of other fish. She also had some awesome footage of us in the top cage, as they returned to the surface from below. The footage showed us being circled by 4 x big sharks and it looked like a scene out of a horror movie.
Looking up at our cage from the bottom,
Photo courtesy of Andrew Fox
After dinner we were privileged to see an unfinished documentary Andrew and the crew are making on a shark named ‘Strappy’. He had swum through a ring of packing tape and it was caught around, and slowly cutting into his gills. The bigger he grew, the closer it was to killing him. Andrew and the team decided to try and help strappy and took a cage down to the bottom, and drew him in with bait. Andrew then jumped out of the cage as he passed by, and cut the strap free. It’s amazing that this shark let Andrew help him. Strappy’s amazing full story can be read on the Rodney Fox web site.

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