Port Lincoln Shark Cage Diving
Definition of Shark cage diving
(1; voluntary recreational activity designed to exhilarate and stimulate an adrenaline response from humans by swimming in a metal cage that floats in shark infested waters.) (2; The shark proof cage is used in the controversial exercise of shark baiting, where tourists are lowered in a cage while the tour guides bait the waters for sharks.)
Port Lincoln Shark Cage Diving
In South Australia, we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to see Great White Sharks up close in their natural habitat. Port Lincoln, on the Eyre Peninsula, is an eight hour drive or 45 minute flight from Adelaide. Known for its abundance of wildlife and national parks, its not surprising that Shark cage diving, among swimming with Australian Sea-lions and fishing charters are very popular for tourists in Port Lincoln.
Controversial Shark Baiting
For some of you readers, this will be your first exposure to gaining insight into the controversial debate that involves recreational shark baiting. For others, it is no surprise to learn that shark baiting is still very much a real concern and has possibly contributed to more shark attacks; especially around fishing boats. Let me explain in simple terms, with the help of advocates and researchers.
“Opponents of the cage-diving industry, such as shark-attack survivor Craig Bovim, believe that the constant shark-baiting used to lure sharks to tourists’ cages may alter sharks’ behaviour. Arguably, there is evidence that the baiting of sharks for tourism does alter the patterns of movement of Great White Sharks”
“Shark cage diving involving baiting makes a mockery of real conservation efforts to preserve an animal that is in rapid decline (so far, we have lost 90% of the world’s shark population since 1950).” To learn more, read this article from National Geographic.
So simply put, has baiting sharks and creating inauthentic situations for them to empower their hunting instinct taught them to seek out food from any boating vessels they come across in their own natural habitat? Not to mention the injuries to the sharks themselves, when they swim full speed, with their eyes rolled back at a metal cages to catch the bait.
Two Very Different Charters
So with the shark baiting in mind, I will share with you the two companies that operate in Port Lincoln and the important reason why they are very different. Both companies offer a one day charter experience, very similar competitive prices, very similar day tours inclusive of food and drink all day, and both companies in fact also use the same sheltered waters from the Neptune Islands to anchor. (A third company also operates in Port Lincoln however only operates multi-day charters).
This charter company prides itself on not using shark baiting! Instead, they use acoustic vibrations by playing music through underwater speakers. This encourages the curious sharks to venture around the cage and boat with their natural timid behaviour. Apparently they really love ACDC. Another really great feature of Adventure Bay Charters is the recent addition of an aqua-sub, this is a platform lowered below the water so you can still view the sharks without getting wet.
It is no secret that this was the company we chose to charter with for our Great White Shark cage dive. We especially loved how small the tour group was. This allowed us to jump in and out the cage all day, which was handy in such cold water. We visited in June, the cold water made it hard to stay in the cage for longer than 20 minutes at a time even with the provided wetsuit.
Berley (bait scattered on water to attract sharks) is used with this tour company. Undeniably I believe you would experience some exciting and possibly scary moments while in this cage! Just keep in mind that on an all day trip you will ONLY have an allotted 45 minutes in the cage itself. Of course viewing from the top deck could be exciting as you may see the action from the shark baiting.
I have not chartered with this company so I don’t mean to be biased in portraying my views however ultimately no matter who you choose I will encourage you to go shark cage diving at least once in your life time!
We were fortunate enough to have eight shark sightings while in the shark cage itself. The water was quite murky from the big swell so it was hard to see the sharks coming until they were quite close to the boat. The Neptune Islands, where we anchored are home to over 5,000 Australian Sea-lions, so it would be very unfortunate to not see any sharks. (The locals call it a free Maccas drive through for the sharks).
When you submerge into the cage and you see your first Great White Shark, it’s a surreal feeling knowing you are potentially food for this eating machine and all that lies between you and it, are some metal bars! That’s when the nerves creep in, I mean the gap between the metal bars is not small. (*Side note; don’t youtube failed shark cage dives before hand). You can’t scream because you are trying to breathe deep slow breathes from the mask that’s providing you air but then you realise you aren’t scared. It’s terribly exciting to see a 5 metre Great White Shark swim slowly by while its black eye follows you. Before you know it, you wish you could see the shark again and again.
As always, thank you for reading, Mim.