Posted on Saturday, 31 May 2008
Dear Shark Lovers,
On the whole May has been a terrific month at seal Island and I feel like we are now in thick of the Great white shark season. We have seen spectacular breaches, multiple predations and even the return of a number of our well known sharks.
Even though there have been a small number of slow days these have been out numbered by a lot of good days. There have been a lot of highlights and I can’t single one particular event out.
Chris & I really specialize in taking out real shark enthusiasts that stay for anything from 5 days to 10 days. This is the best way to experience the sharks as it gives one more opportunities to see spectacular sharks and events. In almost all cases these long stay guests return for another dose of sharks and this May we had a fantastic group whose excitement and enthusiasm really added to our enjoyment as well. Over this period we had a situation where the sharks just could not leave our seal shaped decoy alone which provided some interesting situations.
Breaches, Breaches and More Breaches
We have noted over the years that the sharks go through short phases of when they are breaching and then also when they are not.
This was obviously a short period where they definitely were breaching and we were privileged to observe a number of astoundingly high flying sharks. In fact they were so into it we eventually decided not to put a stationary decoy out behind the boat when cage diving as they were even jumping on that. This has been a very rare event over the years but it did happen a number of times this month. It is not a good situation as having a shark jump so close to the boat is dangerous for both the shark as well as all of those on board. One of out guests managed to be quick enough to capture one of these breaches…have a look at how close it is!
We have no idea what suddenly caused the sharks to start breaching like this, but after a few days they calmed down and the breaching was over.
An Old Friend Visits..
This group was also on board when we had a very special shark up at our boat. We had just had an intense couple of hours with sharks constantly around the boat where we were sometimes seeing up to 4 sharks at one time. Just before leaving a very large shark slowly approached the boat. The large female went for the bait and at the same time exposed her fin. Chris suddenly started going mad with excitement as he saw that it was February! This sent the whole boat, including me, into a complete panic and everyone was scrambling for cameras and a better look.
Chris had seen her in early April and as mentioned in the last Shark Bytes we were ecstatic by her return as we had not seen her in 2007. Now, 5 weeks later she was back at Seal Island and boy was I grateful to be on the boat that day! She is just massive at 5 meters (16.5 foot) and has such a commanding presence about her. We have always known her to be super relaxed and she is famous for putting her head out of the water on her own accord. Although she only made two passes she did put her head out on one occasion to the absolute fascination and awe of all on board.
We have also seen a fair number of what we call natural breaches. This is when a shark breaches for no apparent reason. These breaches are usually hugely spectacular and if one happens to be looking in the right spot at the right moment you are going to see a very athletic great white shark launching itself completely out of the water.
I always know that when someone shouts out in spite of themselves a natural breach has just taken place. There is never a follow up jump so you have to be lucky.
On one of our trips we were very lucky to have one just behind our boat so everyone got to see it. The shark launched itself sky ward exposing its beautiful snow white belly, a site we do not often see and can leave one quite speechless after the initial scream. I always think to myself…did I just see that?
A Special Cage Dive
I often feel that cage diving is over rated and the reason I say this is that the visibility is not always good and as the cage floats on the surface it is sometimes not the most comfortable place to be. I also feel that the sharks come so close to the boat and the surface viewing is so good that it is not necessary to dive in order to see them.
BUT, I had a very special encounter during May which proves that I am sometimes wrong! Again, we had a great group of guests on board. For most of the morning we had a spectacular 5 meter female around the boat and our guests all had incredible cage dives with her. We have found that the larger sharks tend to only make a few passes around the boat before losing interest so the fact the she was staying around was very lucky. After everyone had dived Chris said I should quickly put on a wetsuit so I could have a look at such a big shark underwater. I did so in double quick time but it was still not quick enough to see her.
Once the big female had left a smaller 3.8 female arrived and I think this was my present for the year. I don’t know what it was about this shark but she was just completely fascinated by the cage and she just could not keep away from it. Chris eventually took the bait and decoy out of the water and she still kept circling!
She was super relaxed and kept gently bumping into the cage, never even rolling her eye back. Her snout even came through the port hole a number of times as she gently swam into the cage. She was at no time being aggressive, just very gently curious. My whole dive was about 25 minutes but time stood still as I just completely lost myself with this shark. I still feel on cloud 9 after this special encounter!
Successful Afternoon Trips
For the first time we are now offering afternoon trips as well to see the sharks at Seal Island. This trip is for cage diving and viewing around the boat only as the breaching behavior, being a natural event, does not take place later in the afternoon with any regularity.
We did a lot of these afternoon trips in May and the sightings of sharks coming up to the boat have been excellent, in fact sometimes the number of sharks seen have been better in the afternoon. After one of the afternoon trips that was led by our trusted crew member, Poenas, he reported on a very relaxed smallish shark that kept putting its head out of the water. Poenas was completely taken with this shark and it was very rewarding for us to see how much he appreciated seeing this shark. Chris & I are obviously very passionate about sharks and it is very important to us that our crew feel the same. We really believe that it makes the experience for the guests that much better if we are genuinely excited about the sharks as well.
A New Boat for Us
Leading on from that we are very excited to announce that we have just launched a brand new boat, White Pointer 2. It is larger than the original White Pointer and as such we were slightly concerned that the large boat would take away from the experience.
After having done a number of trips we have found that the experience has not been diminished at all and in fact there are far more spots for better viewing and photography. We have still kept our groups very small as this has been most important to us that our guests have the best experience possible.
We are very proud of the new White Pointer and are looking forward to lots of fantastic shark encounters with her!
So, that’s all our news from May. Make sure to check out “Photo’s Of The Month” for highlights from behind Chris’s lens.
Hopefully June will be jam packed with sharks and I will have some exciting encounters to pass on.