By Lauren Burmaster
Cage Diving with Great White Sharks. Are You Crazy?
Heights, fire, flying, snakes and spiders – these are all reasonable fears that I can deal with. Sharks, very large sharks with gnarly teeth and steely black eyes — that is another matter. At a very young age I developed a very healthy fear of the ocean. While I didn’t let it stop me from snorkeling or scuba diving on vacation trips, I was the one picking out who in our group most resembled a seal and hung out far from them once in the water!
However, having the opportunity to face my greatest fear was a once in a lifetime opportunity. There are only a handful of places in the world that offer adrenaline seekers a chance to swim with Great White Sharks, while in the safety of a large metal cage!
On a very cold and dark Friday morning I made my way down to the docks of Port Lincoln at 6am to meet the crew of Calypso Star Charters, the premiere one day tour operator in Port Lincoln that takes out willing adventurers looking to face their fears and stare down Great Whites.
It took about 3 hours to make our way to the Neptune Islands in Calypso’s new state of the art boat. On the way we were treated to a warm breakfast and sipped on cappuccinos while watching a condensed version of shark week. As we neared our destination our Capitan slowed down and we made our way to the bow of the boat and enjoyed a dolphin escort.
Soon the engines were cut and it was down to business – a safety talk first, wetsuit fitting and chumming the water. Myself, along with seven other passengers stood on the bridge scanning the water, looking for a dark mass gliding effortlessly under the surface. Within fifteen minutes of dropping the anchor there was a young male circling, curious as ever. The first group slipped into the cage and soon I was sliding into my wetsuit, questioning the sanity of this decision. Luckily I only had a few minutes before I was being instructed to climb into the cage, grab a regulator, and get ready for come face to face with my biggest fear.
Coming face to face with a real life man eater
With all my confidence placed in the cage and the regulator I gingerly stepped down into the cage, got my bearings and waited. Out of nowhere there was not one, but two, and then a third massive Great White swimming in all directions, the water stifled my scream and I scrambled to refit my breathing apparatus. Once calm after the initial introduction, I grabbed onto the handrail and for the next 45 minutes watched on as these amazing creatures swam effortlessly back and forth. While it took every ounce of composure I had in me to stay calm when a massive shark came up to take a “taste” of the cage, I couldn’t help but stare in amazement.
My time in the water was soon up and as I excited the cage our deckhand asked, “how many sharks you think were in there with you?”
“Four, maybe five?” I responded while still trying to catch me breath.
“Good guess, but a little on the low side, try eight!” Was the answer I received.
It wasn’t until I was taking a hot shower, that thankfully that boats facilities provided, did it really sink in. Best Day Ever. I wouldn’t trade anything for the opportunity I had to swim with these magnificent animals, and I am so glad that my fear didn’t stop me!
About the tour:
- The cost of a one-day tour is $495 AUD for cage diving, and $395 to come along as a spectator.
- Make sure to bring your bathing suit, towel, change of clothes and camera, but Calypso takes care of everything else!
- Warm breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and soft drinks are all provided. You can even enjoy a cheeky beer or glass of wine on the trip back into Port Lincoln at a very reasonable cost.
** Sharks, like all animals, are unpredictable. Calypso does not guarantee that sharks will be seen on any given day, and do not offer refunds for tickets purchased. However, should it be the case that sharks are not present, Calypso will offer you a ½ off voucher to come back and re-book another tour.**