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Scuba Diving in Fiji
Dive Site: Shark Reef
Location: Between Pacific Harbour and the island of Beqa on the northern tip of Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
Description: Shark diving
Depth: 16 - 30 metres (52 - 100 feet)
Visibility: 15 - 30 metres (50 - 100 feet)
Shark Reef is a marine reserve recognised by the Ministry of Fisheries and monitored by Beqa Adventure Divers who feed nine (yes nine!) species of shark four times weekly.
The dive is promoted as The Big Fish Encounter and from the moment the handing out of 300 plus kilos of chum is begun, the reef is a frenzy of activity. Giant trevally, red bass and rainbow runners are usually the first bigger varieties in on the action but it's not long before larger shapes loom into view.
White tip, black tip and grey reef sharks circle in numbers and on the day I dived they were soon joined by a large silver tip and a pair of large tawny nurse sharks. Although sighted a couple of times in the first deeper dive it wasn't until the shallower second dive that the bull sharks came in to feed. Much more staid in comparison to the reef sharks and contrary to what most would imagine the bull sharks (and indeed the three tiger sharks which are regularly fed but which unfortunately didn't make an appearance for me) were actually very timid, circling several times before warily coming in to take the bait.
But what a sight when they did! The feed is conducted by an extremely experienced and professional crew with strict rules for both diver and shark alike. No decompression limits and diver conduct are discussed thoroughly in the comprehensive pre-dive briefing as well as what you are likely to observe in terms of the larger sharks' behaviour. Audience positioning is a clear safety concern although the spectacle of the feed is never forgotten. Sharks are conditioned so that they are only fed when they approach from a certain direction, thus setting a standard yet also providing the audience with the best (and easily the scariest) view of their gaping jaws.
Ridiculously awesome dive.
Rick Davies, DiveCon Specialist Instructor
A bull shark feeding dive that's out of this world! A whole new experience, jumping into the water knowing there's a whole load of hungry bull sharks waiting underneath you. Beqa Adventure Dive was a great dive operator too.
An absolutely phenomenal experience that one will never forget. It's a feeding frenzy from the moment your put your head under water. It's terrifying to jump off the boat knowing they have been chumming the waters for hours prior to your dive. Divers are positioned so that the sharks are coming right at you, devouring the bait with huge gaping mouths showing off their ferocious set of choppers. At one point, I had a bull shark heading directly toward my mask. I have never truly experienced the expression "paralysed in fear" until that moment and it was probably a good thing. The huge bull shark veered up and to his left only a few inches from my face. Even after that encounter was over, it tooked a minute before I could even turn to my husband and mouth "Holy sh**!". Even though it was terrifying, I'd do it again and again with the crew of Big Fish Encounter, as they were incredibly professional and made absolutely sure everyone was safe. A once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.
This dive is an experience you will never forget. The safety of the divers is paramount to the companies out there and it is shown by comprehensive briefings and explanations. My utmost respect to Beqa Adventure Dive. Also the education of people is important that these are not large killing machines but beautiful creatures worthy of our respect and protection.
Martyn Reek, PADI Open Water Diver | 03/03/2009
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