Many people ask me ‘Aren’t you afraid of sharks?’, and as a girl who has had cancer four times in four years and who recently has been told that her condition is terminal, I have to admit that I’m honestly not really afraid of very much of all.
Call me crazy, but the closer I can get to sharks, the happier I am. When one accidentally knocked against my leg during this encounter at Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea and almost sent me flying from my coral perch 3 metres away from the feeding platform, that was pretty close to the highlight of my life. (At this point, I must offer a heartfelt thanks to my new friend Bob Halstead who kindly directed me to an incredibly up close and personal vantage point for this Bucket List dive 🙂 )
For me, the best thing about diving on the outer Great Barrier Reef and further north into the Coral Sea is the opportunity to swim with reef sharks on virtually every dive. I’ve dived with sharks many times before, including the world-famous bull shark feeding dive at Beqa (pronouced ‘Benga’) in Fiji – my video from that dive is also on this blog for your viewing pleasure, under the ‘Videos’ tab 🙂 Personally, I preferred the intimacy of the shark feeding experience at Osprey Reef.
I appreciate that the practice of shark feeding is not without controversy, but I believe that both of the experiences I’ve had have been highly respectful of the needs and natural instincts of the sharks. In particular, only a very small amount of food is used to attract the sharks in the Coral Sea.
You might expect close encounters with a shark (or closer to fifty, like shown in this video) to make the heart race in a rush of adrenalin. Mine doesn’t. My breathing slows as my bliss descends. I find that I am truly in my element.
Despite their fearful, Spielberg-inspired reputation, most sharks are extremely timid and will shy away from people underwater. Occasionally swimmers and surfers (who resemble turtles from underneath) might be mistaken for a legitimate food source by a hungry shark that is simply following its predatory instincts as an apex predator in its own natural environment.
In terms of worldwide fatalities, falling coconuts are responsible for around 150 deaths annually, champagne corks kill 24 people each year, almost 6,000 people die from tripping and falling in their homes. Similarly, cows, bees, horses, vending machines, ladders, ants and dogs are all responsible for far more deaths each year than sharks.
On average, there are fewer than 5 shark related human fatalities worldwide each year. By contrast, it is estimated that more than 100 million sharks are slaughtered by humans every year as a result of fishing and misguided culling programs that ultimately do nothing to enhance human safety. As with everything in this world, a little bit of education provides a lot of much needed perspective.
Each time I enter the ocean to spend time with the creatures who live there, I am a visitor in their world and I take a calculated risk. Am I scared that a shark might eat me? No. My oncologist said I am likely to die within 5-11 months from advanced, recurrent, metastatic endometrial cancer. He was 100% certain about this (though in my optimism, I am less certain). He said absolutely nothing about sharks. Now where are those Great Whites so I can cross another item off my big old Bucket List? 😛
Love and bubbles,
ps Tank you for taking the time to visit my blog! Please check out some more of my ‘Scuba versus Tumour’ underwater adventures while you are here. And don’t forget to like Pink Tank Scuba on Facebook!
pps More Great Barrier Reef / Coral Sea videos to come over the coming week or so – stay tuned!
ppps Apologies to my beloved dad Kirby for this video. He really doesn’t like me playing with sharks (in fact, he sells Shark Repellant in his Survival Supplies store!) I didn’t tell him about this part of my trip until I came home as I already give the poor darling enough to worry about. As I write this, he is getting the plaster cast off the wrist he broke the day I dived with the sea lions (that’s a really good video to watch if you haven’t seen it already!) Love you, Kirbs xxxxx
27 thoughts on “Shark Feeding Frenzy!”
Babe that’s nuts, Dad’s going to flip!! You are the bravest, coolest person I know. I am so blessed to have you as my big sister. Love you always xxx.
Glad you liked it, babe! Talked to Kirby on the phone while he watched it. He said ‘No, those sharks are ok. They aren’t the dangerous ones.’ 🙂 Every person I know who is scared of sharks isn’t scared any more after diving with them, but you are right about one thing – diving with sharks is uber-cool!!! Love you liddle brother and see you VERY soon! (like in a couple of hours 😛 ) xxx
Yea PT … you’re pretty darn cool! What a great adventure!
Awww shucks, Loca Gringa – you say the nicest things 🙂 Tanks for taking this sharkie adventure with me – so glad to have you along for the dive via the blog! 😀 Love and bubbles, PT xxx
Yes, right now, I’m sort of living vicariously through your adventures. I’m really enjoying tagging along and for the record, I think you are so brave. Fear, that’s what keeps me topside and in the shallows lol. Eeeesh!
I’m petrified of the shallows – you can’t always see what’s under your feet and once I got bitten by something rather nasty and taken to the hospital emergency ward … I feel so much safer introducing myself to critters eye-to-eye 🙂 People only seem to fear diving and critters like sharks until they’ve experienced them close up – then they feel such awe and bliss that they usually can’t remember what they were afraid of! 🙂 Night diving was like that for me – the idea totally terrified me until I did it, then I couldn’t remember or understand why every single person in the world didn’t dive at night. Fear is only what we imagine; reality strips it away 🙂 I love that people can experience the ocean vicariously through my blog and that’s exactly why I do what I do … that said, secretly my biggest hope is that one day everyone will find the courage to put their head under the surface for themselves and experience the bliss first-hand – I promise it’s not scary at all 🙂 🙂 🙂
I love snorkeling, then I can see. But I snorkel in the shallows and never venture too far out. But, one day, I will take up the tank!
Yes – snorkelling in the shallows would definitely be much safer than wading at the beach which is what I was doing when I was spiked and bitten 🙂
Yea wading around is not in my feet’s best interest 😀 I got stung by something so tiny once on my big toe, couldn’t even see the sting mark, and that sucker burned for 6 months 😦
I got stung on the leg when I was 9 years old my mom told me I needed to stay out of the water that was hard for me to do I’ve been a swimmer and diver sins I was 5😃 born and raised in Hawaii I really miss diving. I know almost every thing about sharks.
I love the water, once I’m in, very hard to get me out, I really do need to set some money aside and learn to dive. Missing out on way too much.
Agreed! The ocean needs you in it, Girl xxx
Ouch! Always so much better to see what we are sharing the ocean with than to wade in the shallows and accidentally threaten some critter minding its own business in its own habitat, causing it to take defensive action. I’ve dived with blue ringed octopuses in the shallows of a local beach. They are beautiful, timid little creatures, but woe-betide anyone who intentionally (or unintentionally) makes contact with them – they will only bite in self defence. Snorkelling or diving are definitely much safer ways of entering the water 🙂
Yea, I stepped on a crab once! He was right pissed off at me lol.
No – he was probably just a liddle bit crabby 😛 xxx
Excellent post my friend. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Tank you so much, LP! It was so great to share this amazing underwater experience with you, Spunky Abe and Julie Bear. I am still buzzing with excitement over a week later! 🙂 🙂 🙂
You are everything embodied that a woman should and can be: beautiful, spirited, intelligent, happy, brave, fearless, funny, and even humble. It was a great pleasure and honor meeting you on this recent dive trip. Bob and I often remark on your positive and courageous approach to life. We are backing you the whole way, PT. Life has a funny, often miraculous way of turning out very differently than even the most respected doctors may suggest. The main difference, of course, is YOU and your approach. It is, after all, your life, and your mind is capable of so much that not even the best medical minds can truly understand. I am daily sending you my own mental strength and love. May our paths PLEASE cross again, and you are very welcome to stay and visit with us anytime if you are in Far North Queensland again. I always have a spare bedroom ready! Remember, too, the upcoming trips Bob is leading on the MV Golden Dawn to Papua New Guinea, starting next week, with trips running right up until Christmas. Book a treat for yourself, and maybe you can cross diving the paradide of PNG off your Bucket List too! Sending Love. xxxx
Tank you so much for your beautiful words of encouragement, Kirtley Leigh. I really appreciate your amazing offer and support. I also hope our paths cross again and will look into the details of the PNG trip as I work out what to do next (having a little trouble finding out specific details about the trip next week?) Right now I’m all about finding the big Bucket List critters (particularly mantas), so it definitely sounds appealing! Much love to you and Bob, Lovely Lady. It was such a genuine delight to meet you both – such beautiful souls! Bear hugs, PT xxx
PT, awesome video. (I watched the Fiji shark dive too.)
I gotta pinch myself so I believe I was really there. Nice sharks, nice people. Not sure which I prefer to dive with more. 🙂
Hey Andrew, it has been so nice diving with you in QLD and Melbourne! This really was the coolest dive of them all (except for that wall dive at North Horn earlier the same day! 🙂 ) To answer your question, I think the awesome sharks and nice dive buddies would have to come equal first place – gotta love the best hobby in the world! Aren’t we just lucky-ducks??? 🙂 🙂 🙂
PT, enjoyed watching your video this morning. You are fearless! And your courage runs deep. Keep at that bucket list! LIVE!
Tank you so much for your kind words, realsomefoya 😀 I’m so glad you enjoyed the video. For me, underwater is easy – living on land is what takes the most courage 😉 Hope you have a blissful week, my friend. Love and bubbles and Bucket Lists Forever, PT xxx
I love sharks I want to be a marine biologist
Hi Brook – sharks are truly amazing! If I could go back in time, I think I would definitely have become a marine biologist too 🙂 I was so surprised to learn recently from a qualified marine biologist that a lot of people who study marine biology haven’t learned to scuba dive. This didn’t make any sense to me at all! :-S I hope you follow your heart down to the depths of the ocean to learn about all its wonders and beauty first hand, not just from books. The world is your oyster and you are its pearl! 🙂 I hope with all my heart that all your marine biology dreams come true and that you get to play an important role in understanding, protecting and helping others to understand how incredible the ocean and all its critters truly are! Love and bubbles, PT xxx
Great post PT! We really enjoyed your video. It’s taking some time but when we edit ours (we were on that dive trip too) we would love to share it with you and all the other great divers that enjoyed that out-of-this-world experience with us. It was our first time in Australia and we were so lucky to have such wonderful people around. We’re already looking forward to being back. Absolutely loved diving with sharks (first time also), and we were certainly amazed how not-afraid of them we were. Unfortunately there’s a lot of prejudice against sharks everywhere. We did not know about your situation then but we must say we really admire your approach to it, please don’t ever let that go.
Luciano & Cecilia, the Argentine Team!! 🙂 🙂
Hello Lovely Team Argentina!
Tanks so much for your message and for taking the time to watch my shark video! We really enjoyed meeting and diving with you on the recent Spoilsport trip 🙂 I still feel bad at how seasick I was when we shared a dinner table with you and that I didn’t get more opportunities to chat with you both. I am fairly certain I have an underwater photo or two of you both and maybe some video – I’ll try to find it over the next week or so – please message me your email address so that I can send it through if I find it 🙂 I also feel bad that I was looking over your shoulder and possibly got in your way a little bit when you found a critter under a rock (maybe a shark or an octopus – can’t remember?) but very grateful that you were so gracious, understanding and forgiving 🙂
We were really impressed by everyone in that group – such a wonderful international team!
I will be very excited to see your video when it’s ready – please don’t forget to send me the link! The sharks were definitely a highlight of the trip (plus the dive along North Horn earlier that day – wow! What a stunning dive site!!) I wish everyone in the world could experience sharks the way we did that day and during their appearances on most dives during that trip.
I appreciate your words of encouragement – I truly believe that life is for living! My next trip will be to see manta rays (since I missed them when everyone else saw them on the Coral Sea trip 😦 ) I think you were travelling to Melboure after Cairns? I hope you had fun here 🙂 Much love to you both and please feel free to stay in touch via the Pink Tank Scuba Facebook page 😀
Love and bubbles, PT xxx