Well as you have probably heard in the media, last Sunday we had an encounter with a Great White. Here is the full story, with no rumours.
Firstly, here is the media article from Channel 7. I would like to thank Channel 7 from not putting too much of the normal GWS spin on it. Generally, the media like to associate scuba diving and sharks as near death or death experiences.
For the past year we have been mapping the heads and surrounding areas with some fantastic software. It has led us to do some fantastic exploratory dives. Last year we were transiting back from one of our Double Cape Schanck dives when a reef that rose up out of the ocean appeared on our software. We dropped people in and they said it was a fantastic dive with a lot of fish life, so we scheduled a double dive for last Sunday. The media reports that it was at Gunnamatta beach are far from correct.
We dropped the divers in on top of the reef. The reef was about 150M x 150M. I noticed that a set of bubbles from 2 divers had drifted off the reef by about 40 M in quite barren terrain, so I sat next to them, about 20 mins into their dive, hoping they would surface so I could drop them back onto the reef.
When they surfaced, they were quite “excited”. I picked them up and they showed me the photo that they had taken of the Great White Shark, estimated to approx 3M in length.
As the skipper, I quickly ascertained that it was in the best interests to get everyone off the surface as quick as possible, and we did so as they surfaced.
Seven divers out of the 21 divers had interactions with the Shark, with four getting photographic evidence (Rebecca, Bruce, Simon and Marshal)
By piecing together the information from each diver, it is clear that there was never any aggression by the Great White Shark and that it spent about 5 – 10 minutes with each buddy group. It acted in an inquisitive manner and never made any diver threatened (with the exception of the initial shock of seeing a Great White!!)
We decided not to do the second dive there, and instead went to Port Phillip Heads for a slack water dive.
On this occasion we had three divers that had done 2, 2, and 17 boat dives. A once in a lifetime experience that a lot of people are very jealous of. Divers that have dived for 30 years and thousands of dives have never seen a Great White.
Great Whites move around a lot and it is unlikely to see it there again. However, the divers did report that there was a lot of fish life on that Reef, hence the probably reason for the shark being there. We will go back that site in the near future.
In regards to the chance of a diver being taken by a shark in Victorian waters, it is rare (if at all). Scuba diving is a safe sport. As a friend recently reminded me, three people have died at his local gym in the past 13 years. And that is ONE gym.