If you’re impressed by the photo above you should be. It’s the work of talented underwater photographer and shark warrior Lesley Rochat from South Africa.
Closer to home, our own Sunshine Coast teacher of marine sciences, PADI Scuba Diving Instructor and AWARE shark specialist, Tony Isaacson has dived in some of the most amazing diving locations on the planet.
He has logged over 3000 dives in more than 20 countries around the world and has explored the depths of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
He was a diver on the 60 Minutes team that filmed a documentary to re-introduce navy clearance diver Paul de Gelder, who lost his arm and leg in a bull shark attack in Sydney Harbour, to bull sharks in Fiji.
His next adventure is a diving trip to South Africa’s Wild Coast, which is known as one of the most sensational natural predatory shows on earth. Click the video below to see some underwater action.
Whales, gannets, sharks, seals, tuna and dolphins are some of the marine creatures you’re likely to experience while diving or snorkelling the oceans off South Africa’s Cape Point.
Billed as the greatest natural predatory show on earth, South Africa’s annual Great Sardine Run is the underwater world’s equivalent of East Africa’s Great Wildebeest Migration.
It’s an annual natural phenomenon that occurs in June and July, when massive schools of sardines migrate hundreds of kilometres along the eastern coastline of Africa.
Sardines spawn off the Southern Cape coast, where the adults breed in spring and early summer, then hug the shore as they make their way along the coastline of the former Transkei (northern Eastern Cape) and KwaZulu-Natal.
Shoals are visible from the surface of the ocean and are seething masses stretching for up to fifteen kilometres in length, three and a half kilometres wide and nearly forty metres deep. That’s why it’s called the greatest shoal on earth.
The plankton in the cold currents along this stretch of coastline attracts the sardines, which are a target for predators.
There is an astonishing variety of sharks, such as bronze whalers, bull sharks, hammerheads, coppers and great whites.
The sharks and dolphins work together to employ a hunting strategy known as a “baitball”, where the dolphins herd the sardines into a tight ball and push them towards the surface, then pounce on them and gorge themselves on the tiny fish.
Diving with sharks in the middle of a feeding event, with whales, seals, gannets and other predators has its risks, which is why there are rules for the safety of divers and the marine life. Divers are required to stay vertical in the water and remain in a group.
“A group of divers are not identified as food, much like a car full of tourists is not seen as prey on a safari through lion country,” says Isaacson.
Last year, the underwater adventurer came nose to nose with a 4.5m tiger shark. Isolated from his diving buddy, the adult female swam directly towards him.
“I made sure I was vertical in the water and prepared to scream loudly, shove the camera, mounting and lights at the tiger shark,” says Isaacson. Fortunately, he wasn’t on the shark’s menu. The tiger shark was more interested in exploring the baited container that had broken from a 10m drift line sent to the ocean floor, 40m below.
Discover South Africa
Looking for an advanced dive in Queensland? The S.S. Yongala is worth a try.