Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions

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Dear Critters,

Lately I’ve been having lots of Bucket List dive adventures. (According to my oncology team, there’s not a whole lot of time left in my bucket, so I’ve been jumping on as many planes and boats as possible under doctor’s orders to make the most of whatever time is mine left to spend.) In the last month and a half, I’ve been 1500 kms past Cairns to the outer Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea with a small group of dive buddies to play with reef sharks, giant potato cod, olive sea snakes and more. Last week I spent four days on Stradbroke Island with Spunky Abe filming the majestic manta rays. And earlier this week I returned from a solo three day cage diving expedition with one of the biggest critters on most divers’ Bucket Lists, the Great White sharks of Australia’s Neptune Islands.

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I suppose that with all these vacations anyone could be forgiven for thinking that I have a near-perfect life, and I am the first to admit that I truly feel deeply blessed to be able to have so many amazing experiences. (If there are any downsides to having so many back-to-back adventures, it is the fact that I suffer from chronic seasickness every minute that I am on a boat, combined with the fact that I am now at least three films behind in terms of what I should have posted by now. Β I promise that I am working hard to edit and upload those films for your viewing pleasure now that I am reluctantly but temporarily between dive trips πŸ™‚ )

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In my travels, I love meeting new people, and often when I talk to them about my Pink Tank Scuba blog, they ask me ‘Is that what you do for a living?’Β It’s a strange and loaded question. What they really mean is ‘Is this how you make money?’, as though somehow money is the currency by which all human activity must be measured and validated. While I would love myΒ diveΒ trips to be sponsored, alas at this stage I pay for all of these adventures myself. When I tell people ‘I’m retired’, they always look at me strangely and reply ‘But you’re too young to be retired’ and of course they are absolutely right.

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I try to put off telling strangers that I no longer work due to terminal illness for as long as possible so that they have an opportunity to get to know me before they have the chance to pity or pigeon-hole me. Often, they have no idea that I have been diagnosed with advanced, late stage cancer until well after we’ve parted ways and they discover the truth via my blog or Facebook page. When they first meet me in person, they cannot see past the bliss on my face or the passion in my voice to the tumours that lie beneath the surface as I prattle on about myΒ endlessΒ love for the ocean and all the beautiful creatures that inhabit it. Despite the fact that I have now completed palliative radiation, because I chose scuba therapy over chemotherapy, I simply just don’t look sick the way many cancer patients do.

So to answer their question: do I dive and keep my ‘scuba versus tumour’ blog for ‘a living’? ‘No’, I reply, ‘I do it for living’. Being submersed in the depths of the ocean is the only place that I ever feel truly alive. Someone told me recently that time spent underwater is not counted against the time we have left on land, so it makes complete sense to me to spend as much time underwater as humanly possible.

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As we travelled out to dive with the Great Whites, we stopped for a fun dive with some gorgeous Australian sea lions. Why do these creatures play in the water with such energy, delighting in every opportunity for submersion and interaction? Watching how they glide and twirl, I can only think that the answer is because it brings them the purest pleasure and joy. Only here can they escape the anchor of land where freedom is limited and movement is cumbersome. Surely the shore is a much safer place to be, as their greatest predator, the Great White Shark, lurks nearby in the salty depths. But in order to be truly alive, to be nourished and fed and lost in playful abandon, sea lions must enter the ocean fearlessly, fully embracing the shortness and fullness of life. This is something that I identify with strongly.

And yet I am as fascinated with the predator as I am with the potential prey. There is something deep within me that yearns to face what most people fear and to find majesty where others only see monster. Like death, the Great Whites are nightmarish leviathans in the minds of most, taking the shape of horrors too deep and dark to contemplate. But I have no fear. I have looked the unknowable creature directly in the blackness of its unfathomable eye and have found the truth of myself and the monstrous beast equally affirmed. To the depths of my core, I find myself even more in awe of life and less afraid of death than I have ever been before.

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My most sincere, heartfelt thanks go toΒ the legendaryΒ Andrew Fox from Rodney Fox Expeditions for leading me on this adventure of a lifetime, for capturing every one of the incredible images in this post and for allowing me to share them on my blog. (If you are interested in cage diving with Great White Sharks, Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions is the only adventure group in the world that can offer you an ‘ocean floor elevator’ for certified divers as well as a surface cage for non-divers – I cannot recommend them highly enough!) Here’s our selfie to mark the occasion:

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And I reserve my very deepest thanks to all of my readers who graciously and fearlessly take this extraordinary journey with me through my blog. Every opportunity for me to share my images, videos and reflections with you truly means as much to me as my first-hand experience of these underwater adventures themselves. I continue to work onΒ editing the films of my life-affirming encounters with Great Whites, manta rays, turtles, leopard sharks and more from the past month and a half, and I look forward to sharing them all with you as soon as I possibly can. Stay tuned!

Oceans of love and blissful bubbles,

PT xxx

psΒ Tank you so much for taking the time to read through this blog post. While you are here, please feel free to check out some more of my underwater films and images …

Pps Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog by email to be notified of future posts and to follow Pink Tank Scuba on Facebook!

38 thoughts on “Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions

    • Tanks so much, janstring. Legendary great white shark photographer Andrew Fox did an incredible job of capturing some amazing interactions! These big critters were definitely very aware of our presence πŸ˜ƒ Love and bubbles, PT xxx

      • Our underwater world is so amazing. I feel privileged to be aware of it, to encounter it and people like you. Makes me aware of its vibrant, living preciousness. I would so much love to spend more time exploring the underwater world but my life doesn’t seem to keep me connected with it. No matter how hard I try. Meeting Mike Rutzen has been one of my highlights and if you don’t mind me saying as I really don’t want to offend you’ve reminded me that sometimes it takes death to remind us to live. I feel humbled x

      • Definitely not offended, janstring – thank you – that is exactly the purpose of this blog 😊😊😊 I hope the ocean continues to call your name and that life creates opportunities for you to respond. I too feel humbled 😊 Love and bubbles, PT xxx

    • It was so wonderful to meet and to share this wild,unforgettable adventure with you in person, Sean πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ Love and bubbles, PT 😊

  1. That my friend was an amazing piece, where the diver meets the writer and your words carry people into the depths where they may never venture. Like sea lion faces the darkness of the great white to live free if only for a moment, so you face your cancer with a similar resolve and live life to the fullest, not in fear, but in away that you can embrace the moment. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  2. Tank you so much for your kind words, Friend. You are one of the few who has travelled this journey with me in person and your words have always been an incredible source of encouragement and strength to me πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  3. This post delighted my son who is currently completely obsessed with sharks. One of his first few words was shark. He just stared at the phone scrolling through the photos, the moved on to looking at the manta rays again. Thanks PT

  4. Wow, hindlea – tanks so much for your awesome message! When it came through, I was just in the process of editing my next video of cage diving with the Great Whites πŸ™‚ Knowing that little Scott is enjoying this post inspires me to get the next one finished and posted as soon as I can! I hope he likes it when it’s up, as well as some of the other sharkey videos on my blog. I hope when he grows up he will get the chance to meet some sharks for himself πŸ˜€ Love and bubbles, PT πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  5. Lovely PT! Loved the blog! Was a really great weekend! Meeting u changed my own cancer journey! Forever grateful to have met u!

    • You are an absolute sweetheart, Laura! Tank you so much for taking such amazing care of me on the Great White adventure! One of the sweetest people I have ever met in my life! I truly hope our paths cross again one day (come visit me in Melbourne! πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ) Love you lots and blessings for your journey, PT xxx

  6. What a wonderful blog you have! Thanks so much for the follow. 😊. I love to snorkel myself and have been snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and Fiji. Love your video of the manta ray and the sharks. 😊

    • Tanks so much for your kind words, Maria! I love the GBR and Fiji! I think that ‘manta moment’ may have been the highlight of my life! Hope your future is filled with many more snorkelling adventures! Love and bubbles, PT xxx

      • I just missed out on swimming with two mantas off Agnes Waters in Queensland. I was out of the water and only one girl who was still in the water got to swim with them. It was her first snorkel dive too!

        How’s that for luck. Still hoping to swim with a manta one day. 😊

      • Total empathy! I missed 7 mantas together on my recent Coral Sea trip by 5 mins! Everyone who finished their dive after I did saw them, so as soon as I got home, I booked my trip to Stradbroke Island to make my manta wish finally come true! Next time I see a shooting star, I will be wishing for Mantas for Maria! 😊😊😊

      • Thank you! I had a wonderful day snorkelling that day and even saw a tawny shark. The mantas would have been the icing on the cake though.

        I have been told the snorkelling is good off Great Keppel Island off Rockhampton btw. Have a lovely day. 😊

    • Tank you so much, Library Staff! It was the kind of adventure you read about only in the very best books πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ Have a wonderful weekend! Love and bubbles, PT xxx

  7. Thank you for a wonderful blog PT. I was lucky enough to dive with Andrew Fox earlier this year, and this blog brought back all those feelings of awe when you first see those majestic creatures. But more than that, it reminded me how wonderful the underwater world is and how lucky we are to experience it as scuba divers.
    Time for me to dust off the gear and get back in the water. Happy and safe diving! πŸ˜€

    • Tank you so much for your kind words, Andrew 😊 Diving with the Great Whites genuinely must be experienced to be believed. I found it such a calming and therapeutic experience (like all diving 😊). Wishing you a lifetime of amazing underwater adventures. Kindest regards, PT 😊

  8. Thank you for sharing so much of your “living” with us. I have only gone diving once in Hawaii, and really love seeing your images and reading your words. You give courage to all of us who are in the fight. God bless.

    • Tank you realsomefoya for sharing these snippets of my life πŸ™‚ I have friends in Hawaii and hear that it’s an incredible place to dive! Tank you so much once again for your words of encouragement. It is my absolute privilege to share my reflections, and any courage I have I am honoured to share with others facing their own unique and collective challenges. God bless you too for your journey today. Love and bubbles, PT xxx

  9. PT – I just love reading your narrative of your experience. You are such a fantastic writer and capture the emotional level of diving and your journey. I felt like I was right there with you and those photos, as I have previously mentioned, are the “Hall of Fame” of Hall of Fame shots. I love you “living” your dreams. You are a special person and so glad we have crossed paths. Keep on Keepin on because we have lots of diving to do together. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Say hey to Abe for me too.

    • Tanks so much, Slippah lobstaaah! πŸ˜› As always I really appreciate your words of encouragement and I’m so glad you enjoyed this vicarious great white adventure! It’s definitely your turn to meet a ‘real’ great white next πŸ˜‰ I agree – the photos Andrew Fox took of me and Bubbles are just incredible! πŸ˜€ Abe keeps telling me I need to start organising a reunion for Team Fiji, so watch this space. We honestly can’t wait to dive with you again asap! Love and bubbles from both of us and talk soon πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • Tanks so much, letkidsbekids2013! I’ve really enjoyed sharing my adventures with you and also look forward to my next Bucket List adventures, whatever they may be … tiger sharks, possibly?? 😊😊😊

    • Tank you so much, KC Skinner 😊 I love your blog and have been fascinated to watch a few documentaries about coral farming and regeneration 😊 I think what you are doing is awesome – your reef balls are incredible! Love and bubbles and beautiful corals, PT xxx

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