For some, being in the water with Great Whites is the ultimate bucket list privilege. For others it’s a fear to face head on. For me, it was the latter.
There are two reasons why this made it to my bucket list:
1. I was scared of sharks
2. I was scared of deep water.
I live by the motto – “Don’t let fear stop you from living your life,” so making the trip to South Australia to come face-to-face with these majestic and terrifying creatures seemed fitting. And what better way to overcome your fears than to face them head on.
So, I travelled to South Australia to take the plunge with Calypso Star Charters.
The boat departed Port Lincoln around 6:30am full of eager passengers, ready to embark on the three hour journey to Neptune Islands. The Neptune Islands consists of two groups of islands located close to the entrance of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia and is home to many Great Whites.
The eagerness soon wore off as we headed into six metre swells. With over ¾ of the passengers sick over the side of the boat, it made for an interesting journey.
Once we arrived at the prime spot, the crew began chumming the water whilst the majority of passengers cleaned the vomit from their face and hair. Although I felt rather nausea the whole time, thankfully, my breakfast stayed down.
Within minutes, Great Whites were chasing the chum and curiously exploring the boat. I instantly felt surreal. It was such an overwhelming feeling seeing them skimming the surface of the water and they were so much bigger in real life!
Up to eight people could enter the cage at a time so we were split up into groups. My group were second to descend so I put on my wet suit and grabbed my breathing apparatus before being overcome with anxiety. It took about 15 minutes to calm my breathing before I managed to climb slowly down the ladder into the cage, submerged about three metres under water where the sharks were.
I stood at the back of the cage, hiding behind my fellow divers. There was limited visibility in the water – we could see only a few metres in front of us. A school of fish hid any sight of the sharks as they frantically cleaned up the chum.
One by one the sharks attacked the cage from different angles as the crew continued to torment them with chum. The boat was swaying up and down from the choppy conditions and although I was wearing a wetsuit I was shivering from the 14 degree water temperature. One of the sharks was 5.5 metres long which the skipper said was one of the biggest they have seen out in those waters.
It was at that moment I felt extremely vulnerable. The only thing stopping a 5.5 metre Great White from eating me was a metal cage. I could hardly see and I can hardly swim so I didn’t stand a chance should anything go incredibly wrong.
We stayed under water for about 40 minutes, watching shark after shark torment us. We couldn’t stand too close to the walls of the cage or risk getting penetrated by the sharks’ giant, piercing teeth.
It was all too much for one of my fellow divers who ran straight back up the ladder and into the boat following a close encounter at the front of the cage.
After our turn, we headed back up the ladder one by one and back onto the boat to shower and change into warmer clothes.
Reflecting on the back of the boat whilst the remaining groups made their descent gave me a new appreciation and respect for these remarkable animals.
I am still terrified of sharks and deep water however I‘m richer for the experience and know that these fears will never stop me from experiencing new adventures and living my life how I choose.
Thinking of adding cage diving with Great Whites to your bucket list? You definitely won’t regret it!