Then little by little things began to change, and many people nowadays dream of diving with them, in safe cages of course, to see up close this big and dangerous shark which, in the meantime, has become a symbol of specialized tourism.
For a long time now, South Australia and the city of Port Lincoln have been a must destination for those people who want to experience the thrill of being face to face with a great white shark. Obviously, divers are well protected by the bars of a sturdy steel cage which is lowered into the water but the problem is that Australian sharks are not easy to spot unfortunately so these cage dives are not guaranteed.
The divers, however, including myself when I did it, are confident and the statistics are on their side.
First it was just word of mouth among friends, then photos of leaping white sharks appeared online so I saved my money and I flew to Port Lincoln just to do this. There is not much else to do in this quaint Southern Australian village anyway.
Port Lincoln has become ‘great white sharks city’ thanks to a rich colony of seals which populate the coasts of a small islet off the coast here. The presence of this seal colony led to a stable population of white sharks in the area.
The “fame of this colony of sharks prompted some local residents to work hard to transform it into a business.
Diving with the great white sharks is a fantastic experience which can be enjoyed in absolute safety. The thrill, however, is not lacking and you can have a good supply of adrenaline, which (I didn’t know!) has the effect of indelibly fixing the memory of this experience in your mind.
Before going I consulted many sites, asked for information, read reviews as I was a bit confused and did not know what to expect so I wondered over and over again if I was just throwing my money away or not. Now that I am back and I have had this unique experience, I can say that it was money well spent.
The shark cage diving normally starts REALLY early in the morning in the small port where you have to embark on a small boat to reach the seal colony islet about two hours off the coast of Port Lincoln.
Aboard one can enjoy an excellent continental breakfast while being given a full briefing about the safety rules to be followed during the excursion.
Such rules are explained and a detailed explanation of our route and all the sea animals that could be seen during the tour is provided.
The boat I took carried about 15 people plus the crew which in our case consisted of 5 people.
When we reached the islet, one of the most awaited moment of the tour began, the moment when the crew lowered the cage into the sea which is fixed to the back of the boat. A black seal shaped prop and tuna gills are then thrown into the water to lure the sharks.
No diving experience or license is required to be able to go down into the cage with the sharks and the cage can can hold up to 4 people at the time.
The crew helped us to put on the wetsuit, the wet shoes and the weights and then we took turns diving into the icy waters of the ocean.
Once in the cage, the upper part is closed and the shark or sharks are expected to show themselves.
It is really exciting and unlike what I had thought, I did not feel any fear just a lot of excitement.
Staying in the cage for a long time was not easy for me because the water was freezing and we had to wait around for half an hour before the first shark appeared.
You can take an underwater camera with you in the cage and the photos are great.
The sharks were moving slower than I expected and when one of them bumped onto the cage and I could look at it straight in its deep black eyes…well, it was a moment I’ll never forget!
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