On November 10th, 2018 I was lucky enough to participate in my very first 2-tank shark dive led by Beqa Adventure Divers (BAD) in Pacific Harbour. Early Saturday, myself and 8 other divers hopped on a boat and headed to the Shark Reef Marine Reserve.
The two dives were accompanied by one of BAD’s local marine biologists, Ben, who provided the group with a detailed briefing of the biology of the sharks and the navigation between the feeding spots.
Despite being a relatively new diver, there was not a single moment I felt unsafe. At a depth of 30m, I lined up along the reef and witnessed my first bull shark. Only two meters in front of me were 10 bull sharks harmoniously swimming and observing me while I observed them. Of these 10 exquisite bull sharks, they identified 4 massive pregnant females that were significantly wider and exceeding 3 meters in length.
Following the bull shark dives, we were brought to the shallower depth of 12 meters where we were swarmed by nearly 40 sharks. At this depth you are introduced to a variety of reef sharks, black tips, white tips and silver tip sharks that are surprisingly friendly. For about 15 minutes you witness the lively feeding of these swift, smaller species of sharks.
What many are not aware of is BAD is not only a dive shop, but are also highly credited for their shark conservation and research efforts. On the second dive, we were lucky enough to witness Ben take part in the tagging one of the pregnant female bull sharks. The process of tagging gives them access to a year’s worth of information on migration patterns and popular breeding grounds.
After surfacing back to the boat, the experts on board individually asked and recorded approximately how many sharks we saw to add to their database. They also informed us on the names of the sharks they identified as part of their “My Fiji Shark” program, in case we wanted to adopt one. If I recall correctly, a shark named “Brenda” was present and adopted by one of the fellow divers. I myself have since adopted my own Fiji Shark after being exposed to the passion and expertise that goes into the program.
The entire experience was surreal to say the least. Not only was I in the presence of wild sharks – so close that I could feel the current of them swimming past me – but I feel like I left with a genuine understanding of the biological nature and behaviour of the widely misunderstood creatures.