Great White Sharks - "The New Era!"
By Carl Roessler
I recently had the profoundly enjoyable experience of my 25thannual cruise to South Australia to cage dive with great white sharks. It was, in a word, FABULOUS!!!
For lo, those many years, we concentrated our adventures in February, when a fairly reliable of good weather made both cruising and our hours in the cages as easy as possible. In our great ignorance, we assumed that shark appearances would occur fairly randomly throughout the year, so why not be comfortable?
Recent research has suggested that in both South Africa and South Australia, more white sharks come to the coastal sites during the less hospitable months of southern winter—May through September. So, for my 25th expedition I chose a late April/early May cruise with my long-time friends, Rodney Fox and his son Andrew. Armed with anew, thick wet suit I was anxious about being incapacitated with cold when I spent several hours at a time in the cages.
The first three days caused me to recall my many warm Februarys; late April was cold and blustery, occasionally rainy and utterly lacking in sharks .As often happens,three days with no sharks had even the most optimistic of our colorful group getting glum. A TV film crew from Argentina began feeling increasingly pressed; would they get the crucial footage for which they had come so far? The rest of us didn’t have contractual obligations, but time grew more unbearable with each passing hour.
On the morning of the fourth day of baiting, the new research abruptly paid off.,and my long, lucky career was once again blessed. With one, then two, active sharks,I spent two three-hour sessions in the cage. Even a hot shower hardly warmed me up!
The next day was even better, as we had now identified five different individual sharks. The visibility had improved, and photo conditions were the best of the entire cruise. Nearly six more hours in the cages brought my career total to more than 450hours. The next day (our last) I had two more long sessions and two of our most spectacular performing sharks. These two also put on a sensational surface-feeding extravaganza,erupting out of the water to attack tuna baits hanging from a rope.
As they have so often done before, the sharks stalked the baits we offered patiently but relentlessly. They circled our cages looking for openings. They came in from the vast ocean from directions that were impossible to anticipate. They surprised us again and again. Sometimes they would hit a cage full of divers before anyone even saw them. Time and again, we saw behavior that convinced us one would never survive being stalked by these giants. It was my annual epiphany, and I laughed as I realized how these adrenaline-drenched moments brought me back year after year.
This great white shark experience organized by the Fox family is a transforming experience;I have had the testimony of dozens of dazzled clients on this. Some are so overwhelmed by the encounter that they return for one or even two more cruises in later years.All say that their friends see them differently after they have been with these predators.
For me, my photos of these massive carnivores are always among my most satisfying. Having a fifteen foot white shark a few ferocious inches from your lens is a test at several levels—your self-control and ability to think in rapidly-changing circumstances determine whether you come home with pictures or not.
I love that challenge above all others. Those of you who think you might wish to share this pinnacle of all diving adventures are welcome to contact me and I’ll enjoy giving you the details.
Perhaps I’ll have the pleasure of welcoming you to this "World’s most exclusive club"…
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