Most people balk at the idea of swimming with the Great White Sharks. While it is a cool thing to talk about when you are at the bar with your buddies when it comes time to put the money on the table to book your charter, most people back out. Even when you are out on the boat, apprehension will overcome about 1/3rd of the people, so those of us that do take the plunge, literally, will have extra time with these amazing wonders of nature. If you are one of the few who is able to calm your nerves and go to see the Great Whites in Southern Australia, make sure that you set yourself up to succeed by knowing what each charter provides.
The first thing that you should know about diving with the Great White Sharks is that there are three dive companies out of Port Lincoln (where you leave to go see the sharks). All three companies are world-class outfits, so no matter who you choose you should have a good experience. These companies are:
- Calypso Star Charters;
- Adventure Bay Charters;
- Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions.
Since all three outfits are good at what they do, the best way to choose is by identifying what you are looking for. Knowing your goals on the trip allows you to know what to ask about, which can lead to a better experience.
Calypso Star was the first shark diving trip that I ever went on, so in my case, they have the nostalgia factor going for them. Once you get beyond the nostalgia, you still have a very good experience. Of the three, you will likely see the most sharks in the shortest amount of time with Calypso Star. They are more aggressive bringing the sharks in, which allows you to see a bigger variety of sharks during the day. Their size is about 20-30 people, so with four people in the cage at a time you can expect to get about an hour in the cage with the sharks (sometimes a little more).
If you have the money, you can also charter it as a small trip, which would allow you more time in the water. The trip takes you out into the Australian Bight where you will drop anchor near a seal colony, this is where the sharks come in. They start the day with a brief lecture on sharks and safety, then they get you in the water. The lunch on this trip is exceptional, sometimes they even prepare fresh fish caught off the front of the Boat. Overall, this company was a great experience, I recommend it for people who want to see as many sharks as they can and get a lot of good pictures.
Adventure Bay Charters is where I go when I take a group of students down to Australia. The reason I take the students with them is that their boat has the traditional shark cage, but also has a glass viewing chamber for people who do not want to get in the water. Adventure Bay has branded themselves as a green company, which means that they do not use bait to draw in the sharks- they use music. This means that fewer sharks come in, but they do tend to hang out a while longer as they are looking for the sound.
The glass room provides the experience of seeing the sharks for those who do not feel comfortable getting in the tank to view the sharks. Since they have twice the room, you get about twice the time seeing the sharks. Overall, I recommend this to people who are traveling with a big group or who do not want to see the sharks baited in with Tuna.
Rodney Fox Charters is the boutique tour of the group. Being the oldest of the group, Rodney Fox Charters is more about the experience than the sharks. This is the luxury tour of the group. I have not had the privilege of traveling with them, but I have heard good things about them. They also offer overnight tours so that you can swim with the great whites at night, definitely bucket list item. Based on what others have said about them, I would suggest you research them on your own, but they would be for the diver that wants to maximize their time in the water.
Overall, doing a shark dive is a once in a lifetime thing for most people. Since there is a large expense to go to Australia and the dive itself is not cheap, most people only get to do it once. Taking the time to research the companies will give you the best experience possible.
About the Author
Dr. Smithmyer is the Vice President of International Affairs for Brāv Online Conflict Management, an international consortium of conflict resolution professionals. Dr. Smithmyer is also a columnist for NRN doing mostly political and international business columns. When Dr. Smithmyer is not working with people to make the world a better place, he enjoys snorkeling the waters of the world.
Dr. Smithmyer has traveled extensively in the United States, Australia, Vietnam, and the Bahamas. He has also presented in the U.K., India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Smithmyer is one of the most lettered men in the world with nine degrees. As an adjunct professor in his spare time, Dr. Smithmyer uses his business experience and travels to help bring the world to his students and even brings the students to the world through experiential learning trips.
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