Hands down the best thing I have ever done!
Not too long ago, on a trip to Fiji for a short holiday with some girlfriends, I finally got to do a dive I’ve been wanting to do for a long time – diving with sharks. Before we arrived, I did my research and knew that I would be diving with Beqa Adventure Divers who are located an hour from Suva.
Beqa Adventure Divers are world renowned for their shark dive and their contribution to shark conservation, although some find shark feeding dives controversial. Beqa Divers have been running these dives for several years and they are run primarily as a conservation project, with marine biologists on every dive recording information about every shark that they see. The conservation project extended into tourism, allowing divers to enjoy these dives as a way to boost funds for the project and to provide income for the local communities as an incentive to not fish the area.
After weeks of waiting for the trip, the long anticipated day finally arrived!
I got to Beqa Divers bright and early and after getting kitted up, it was actually happening, we were on our way out to the dive site and I could hardly contain myself! As we arrived at the dive spot and started getting the dive briefing, that’s when it hit me what I was just about to do – oh shit, I was going diving with sharks! Big sharks – bull sharks in fact! Lots of them ….. with no cage. Oh wow! Most people call me crazy for wanting to dive with sharks and I couldn’t wait to prove to them exactly the point I’ve been trying to make the whole time – sharks are not the senseless killers they’re made out to be.
My adeline and excitement levels were through the roof at this point and I was first in the water desperate to descend. We were guided down to the first feeding spot at 30m, where we were all lined up along a reef edge to watch the action unfold. The feeders and crew started chumming the water with fish heads and blood while we stared out into the big blue of nothingness. Suddenly a shadow appeared in the distance…… then another and another until we were surrounded by more bull sharks than I could count! (I was later told there were 25). The sharks ranged in size up to 4m and I was in awe of their size and grace.
The feeding eventually began down in the ‘arena’ in front of us, giving us a perfect view of the sharks. The feeding is done by the most experienced of the crew and it’s obvious they have full respect of the sharks and understand their behaviour. The biggest sharks get fed first and foremost to avoid any potential hierarchal aggression. The sharks are fed in such a way that they have to swim up and over the divers on their exit of the arena and you really get to see the sharks up close and personal, I even got hit by a passing tail! I watched in pure joy as the sharks would come in, take a fish head and swim on. Such control, such beauty and grace. I could have stayed down there forever!
Unfortunately, I’m not a fish and couldn’t stay down forever and eventually we heard the banging that signalled the dive with the bulls was over and we were to move to the shallower reef for our safety stop. Thankfully the feeding continued as I wasn’t ready for it all to be over but this time we were observing blacktip, whitetip and silvertip reef sharks. These little guys were such fun to watch! The bulls moved slowly and gracefully due to their sheer size but these little sharks were lightening fast in comparison! They came so, so close that it took everything I had not to reach out and touch one. We watched them zip about, dodging as they swam past until we again heard the banging that signalled the end of the dive.
During the whole dive, with both the bulls and the reef sharks, I never once felt in danger and the crew at Beqa Divers are constantly keeping watch. This means you can really relax into the dive and enjoy the show without needing to have eyes in the back of your head.
I was ecstatic when the dive ended, it was beyond epic! Getting back to the resort, my friends joked that they hadn’t expected me back as they thought I was going to get eaten. It proves that these kinds of dives are working wonders to help change peoples perceptions of sharks. If I was able to swim with 25 bull sharks, with no cage and while there was blood in the water and not get attacked …… maybe, just maybe people will start to see sharks are not actually man killers who eat everything they see. I came back unharmed!
I honestly cannot recommend this dive enough. If you ever find yourself in Fiji, go see the team at Beqa Adventure Divers! It will completely change the way you think about sharks and right now, sharks need all the help they can get! Movies like Jaws and the hype of media have been absolutely devastating for sharks but peoples perception is slowly, very slowly starting to change. But, will it change fast enough?
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.” Baba Dioum