Dear F&F, August 29th…Happy Birthday Peter!
I\’ve heard forever about the shark feed dive near Beqa (Benga) Lagoon here in Fiji. This is where they get the \”bigs\”.
We loaded up all our gear on Aquatrek\’s dive boat for the 15 minute ride to the site. It turns out that the dive is actually at the entrance to the bay we were in and no longer out in Beqa Lagoon which would have been another half hour ride. The weather was NOT cooperating. Pretty bumpy. The range of divers was from near beginner to instructor so the dive guides would have their hands full.
An interesting treat. Peter and I watched a \”young lady\” (83 years young!) get some assistance walking down to the dive boat. We thought to ourselves, really? This dive? Anyway, it turns out that Joyce started diving when she was 65. She had 750 dives under her belt and had done this shark dive for YEARS 3 days/week during the prime 2 month season here in Fiji. She was sort of an honored celebrity (see photo gallery).
Joe, our dive guide gave a nice briefing and told us they were \”overdue\” for the tiger sighting. So I didn\’t get my hopes up. I had brought both the still and video cameras and decided to go with the still on the first dive. It turns out, the \”in house\” videographer from Aquatrek\’s camera wasn\’t working so he took my video camera on both dives. I have yet to watch….(soon!).
I went in first to get the camera out of the way of everyone else\’s entry and Joyce went in right behind me. She whacked her head on her tank but thankfully was just fine.
All the divers were set up behind a \”wall\”, but I got to get into a photo pit which they had set up for the crazy photographer\’s amongst us who like to get \”CLOSER\”…..
There were hundreds of fish, all very good sized and well fed from having two meals a day served by Aquatrek and Bega Adventure\’s the other \”Shark Feed\” company that does these trips. Between them, these animals are fed at least 6 days/week.
The 50 gallon drum full of fish parts was hung in mid water by one of our guides and the action began.
At first, a few white tip, gray reef and several very large (10 foot – 3.5 meter) Tawny Nurse sharks showed up. The Tawny\’s are very yellow in color, have very small mouths and look like they\’ve small barbs under their lower jaws like a catfish.
Next came the Silver Tips and the Bulls!
The Silver Tips look like big Gray Reef sharks with silver highlights on all their fin tips. A very cool looking shark. Friend Terry Kennedy in Baja California told us that he thought Silver Tips were a \”sharks…shark\”! They looked it.
Now the Bulls are an entirely different critter. They were BIG. Very girthy as a sign of how well fed they were. \”Big Mama\” was about 10 feet long and about half that wide. Fortunately, none of these animals are interested in \”us\”.
All the sudden, I saw Joe take Joyce by the hand and swim her right into the melee. I thought this was some sort of Fijian ritual sacrifice….LOL. However, Joe was taking Joyce first but in turn, all the rest of the brave into an area where they could \”pet\” some of the sharks. Mostly the Tawny Nurse sharks which you will be glad to know have no teeth.
I got some decent photos (see photo gallery), but lots of \”scatter\” in the water will make many of them a tough \”light room\” project.
Second Dive: So now, Joe and Joyce are convinced that the Tiger will make her appearance on the second dive.
We go to a slightly shallower site and the melee renews. Two minutes later, here she came! About 12-14 feet of pure Tiger Girl! (see photo gallery). She had a pretty good sized gash on her right side which may have been a mating bite? The males literally bite the females (who\’ve evolved a thick skin) when courting. She came right into the divers where yes indeed, I got to \”pet\” the Tiger Shark! Do not try this at home!
She was one of three tigers and the smallest that come to the feed on occasion. Joe told me that 10 years ago, they used to get up to 30 or so Tigers. Now only one and only \”sometimes\”. A wake up to the world that these magnificent predators are being fished out for their fins. Our Asian friends feel that their fertility is improved by such nonsense. When will the world wake up!?
The soon to be posted photo gallery is the story on this dive.
Scott with Anja, diving with Peter and Diana of s/v \”Quickstar\”.