Dan and Justy Down Under


February 25, 2005

Dan or Justy

So, let me get this straight. You're going to tease a bunch of sharks with the smell of food, until they enter a feeding frenzy. And just when they're frustrated out of their prehistoric minds, we'll have to swim back to the boat...


"We don't believe in shark feeding," Dennis, our instructor, explained. "It interrupts their normal behavior and isn't healthy for them." This didn't make anyone feel better.

I had expected something very tame, but the attraction delivered genuine thrills, if no outright danger. Plenty o sharks and a ginormous potato cod (clearly in charge). We were all stationed about 25 feet from the food and had a great view of all the action. As well, each buddy team got to spend 2 minutes on the bommie where the food was. You were in the middle of things then, just out of arms reach of the food.

To give you an idea of the quality of the dive, without trying, I managed to video (closeup) a spotted moray eel being cleaned, with clouds of sharks in the background. Too easy. A fantastic fun dive. The highlight of the trip so far.

I haven't had the time to import and put a video together, and there are no pictures as Justy was holding onto me with both hands at the start. She relaxed a bit into the dive and by the end was swimming in blue water with them. Go Justy!

Today is shark attraction time! This was my first and only real shark experience, and I did geet VERY nervous just before going in. Our first dive here was just to see the wall, and even then we saw at least 5-8 larger samples of shark calmly circling undeneath the boat. The swim to the site and back was the most harrowing, but no animal even came close to us.

The follow-up dive is the attraction, where crates of food are used to gather the sharks, attract them, annoy them and allow us to watch them. There is no feeding, as that would interupt the sharks normal hunting bahavior and cause damage to their teeth. Their teeth tend to fall out at an unnatural rate if fed through metal glves or poles. The attraction keeps the sharks around longer, as the smell keeps them interested. If they're fed, they grab and swim away.

One woman was sitting this dive out, and I thought that maybe I should do the same. Dan's unbridled enthusiasm only made it worse. He even asked the DM if he could swim amongst them! (I almost pushed him off the boat at that point!).

The group went to the amphitheater together, where the attraction was to take place, so no one was swimming alone. As soon as we got there, we all lined up awaiting our turn. Dennis, the dive leader, signaled the surface that we were ready. The crates dropped down the line and hung suspended. The sharks came from every direction. There were at least 30 (that I cared to count) in all shapes and sizes. Many white tips, mostly smaller chihuahua looking sharks (like if they could they'd have a high pitched bark), grey whalers and some normal looking reef sharks. There was also a GIANT potato cod, who was not afraid of the sharks at all. He rivaled them in size, and easily manueverd his body to the crate pushing and shoving the sharks as he went. The cod got a hold of a fish body sticking out of the crate and held on. Though the fish wasnt getting out of the crate, it held on uside down, turning and twisting, waiting for the flesh to break. I think that cod was the only fish that got some that day!

I was calm and thrilled to be there. Though some of the white tips came close to us, and even swam between our legs, none seemed interested in a bite. The larger specimen also stayed out of out way and ignored anything but the crate. The attraction was a grand way to meet the sharks.

Itinerary Highlights
January 20: Winery Tour
21-23: Moreton Bay Diving
25: Australia Zoo
26-30: Lady Elliot Island
February 13: Diving the Yongala
15-17: Cape Tribulation + Daintree Rain Forest
17-20: Atherton Tablelands
22-28: Coral Sea Diving Liveaboard
March 11-13: OzTek Dive Conference: Sydney
14: Fly to New Zealand
20: Poor Knights Islands Diving
31: Mt. Cook
April 2-4: Queenstown
TBD: To Be Dreamed

Digital Pix Courtesy of Shimmivision.com
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