On a recent trip to Sydney, Australia, Scott and Kelly joined Dominique on a shark diving excursion in Manly. Read on to find out what makes people decide it’s a good idea to get in a tank with a bunch of nurse sharks, and what they each thought about the experience.
Scott: I’m a certified scuba diver, so I wasn’t sure what to expect on an aquarium dive. Part of me was hoping for a “steel cage / throw chum in water / AAAAAAHHHH! there’s a SHARK coming this way AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” experience. The aquarium shark dive was nothing like that, and that turned out to be a great thing. I’ve been diving with sharks before, but always in open water and never with the intention of getting too close. So I was pleasantly surprised with the shark dive, because I was able to stare at these amazing, massive, prehistoric predators for almost the entire dive. In the open water you can never get a good look, or at least a long good look. On the aquarium dive you get a unique opportunity to leisurely watch and learn. So that was a huge plus for me. I also enjoyed the aquarium’s playful rays. A few of them have seven or maybe even eight-foot wingspans. They’re such graceful creatures, even with the eight- and 10-foot wingspans!
Kelly: Yeah, I thought the sharks would be scarier. Not to say they didn’t freak me out a little sometimes, but it was more due to their size and unflinching eye gaze, and not so much the teeth. The reminded me of someone’s tired Dad skulking around the house, like if they could talk they would have said as they drifted by, “Oh, you guys are still here? Shouldn’t you go outside and play? Where’s my keys?” Less like Jaws and more like Kevin Spacey at the start of American Beauty. Also, it was so peaceful and quiet once we were in the water, it was hard to get scared in that environment. I wasn’t prepared for how close the sting rays would get, but after they’ve done their sting ray hugging once you loosen up about it.
Dominique: I’ll admit that “I was scared speechless”. I was preparing for this little adventure and Bruce, the Great White Shark from the film “Finding Nemo” was my benchmark. I was going to meet Bruce. I was going to be in his home. I was a shivering sharks mess. I didn’t meet Great White Sharks instead I met a bunch of chilled and calm Grey Nurse Sharks on our shark dive. Alas, we got going and the sharks were scary, but I was trying to keep out of the sting rays way more. They’re massive, and Chris (our guide) told us they come up and wrap their wings around you. I don’t know if this is true or not, alas I was prepared for a shark bite, but not stingray cuddles. They are SO amazing. It was rare to swim with them so close and just before we jumped out of the tank – they kept playing and swimming between us and then coming back for more. It was surreal. It was beautiful. I’m in sting ray love and shark lust! I expected to be scared, and instead I fell in love with their tranquility. Now, this of course does not mean that you should say hello to the next shark haunting the open oceans. A controlled aquarium environment is very different to the wild sharks of ours seas!
Do you remember singing “Octopus’ Garden” along with The Beatles? My mind has conjured up the setting of sitting under the sea and having a cup of tea with an Octopus many MANY times. I love all things OCEAN. It fascinates me. Its creatures entrance me. I think NEMO is cool, and Crush his chilled out turtle friend totally rocks me world dude. I quote him all the time and he is my hero.
Scott: So do I recommend an aquarium shark dive? You bet. I think it’s especially appealing for first-time divers. Not only do you get up close to nearly a dozen sharks, it’s also a good way to learn the basics of scuba diving in a safe and comfortable environment. If you’ve ever wondered about scuba diving, the shark dive is an ideal introduction to the sport.
Kelly: I hadn’t been scuba diving before and was a bit nervous about being ok with the breathing, but I thought the guides were good teachers and Scott’s right, we got a nice introduction to diving skills. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be to grasp the basics and feel comfortable. Besides pushing my personal boundaries about trying new experiences and understanding our natural world more firsthand, I wanted to see if I liked scuba diving, and I think on all counts things went great.
Dominique: Both Kelly and I were nervous about our first attempt at scuba diving. It was re-assuring not to be the only person and I think we both enjoyed being able to experience the dive together. We had plenty of time to practice the breathing techniques, and funny hand signs to communicate underwater. When you decide to do something completely out of your comfort zone (like jumping into tanks with sharks!) the most important factor is feeling at ease. This is your guides responsibility and they passed with flying colors. Both guides made us comfortable and prepared. Haha they’d smile occasionally through dopey goggles and point out the Grey Nurse Sharks swimming but a bubble away from our heads with three layers of sharp teeth! CHOMP! CHOMP! There’s so much to see… a turtle sleeping near my feet, a school of fish meandering by and sharks cruising around. Scott, kept saying how lucky I was to see so much on my first dive. He said on many of his dives nothing was to be seen. I feel SO lucky and it sounds like my first shark dive was a real treat. It won’t be the last. We’ve put men in space, but we’re yet to explore the depths of our own oceans on Earth. Its diversity is truly AMAZING. I walked away thinking “Wow, that was the BEST”.
Dying to take a bite out of shark diving? Browse all the shark diving excursions on Viator.
Just want to see some more pictures of our shark dive? Click here.