|Actual photo taken from the dive we're doing.|
A shark feeding. Yep, me, the girl who was scared to get in the ocean at one time because a fish could bite me will be watching from a distance of this picture of a full on shark feed.
Ok, I haven't lost my marbles. For one, there are many, MANY different types of feeds and this one involves us dropping down the bottom of the sea floor in a specific location and then the boat lowering a trash can full of food. No one is actually physically feeding the sharks (an excellent way to donate a finger, hand or side of your body to Poseidon) but we are in the vicinity of sharks in full on feeding mode. That somewhat eased my mind.
Second, the liveaboard we'll now be doing is a day longer, includes more dives but automatically does this as one of them. It's roughly 20 minutes of your hour or so dive but those who have done it say it's something not to be missed. When we were first looking at liveaboards, part of the reason we chose Taka was because they DIDN'T do this dive in their package. However, after research and lots of talking, we decided it was worth it to have an extra day at sea, more dives and go with a boat that has a bit more experience than Taka.
Enter Spirit of Freedom.
It's ranked very high in the liveaboard world and every person on our favorite Scuba forum swears by it. (the other one we really wanted was full, Mike Ball, except for the $4500 pp Ocean View Stateroom. No thanks Mike, we'd like to pay our mortgage. For a year) The boat is very professional, specializes in longer trips to sea and is willing to stop for Minke whales if we see any, more so than others. Because it's only a day longer but it's going literally out to sea, this trip includes what's called a low-level flight from Cairns to a small island where we'll board.
So back to the sharks. We're not spending the cash on a liveaboard to sit out any dives so we're biting the bullet and facing our fears. I was always so afraid of these because a) most shark attacks happen when they're being fed. Not a fun statistic to know when 3 months from now I will be sitting on the sea floor watching this. b) I feel like it could have a detrimental impact on the sharks because well, they're being fed and not looking for food.
Some fears were calmed by watching videos of this exact dive posted by many, many divers. Yes, the sharks are very close but why would they want us? We're not yummy and delicious chum, that's available in the trashcan. Note to self, do NOT dress up like a trashcan and go diving on Osprey Reef. And I said some fears, not all. I'm still terrified.
As for the environmental impact, the vessels are set on a strict schedule so that no two boats are out there during the same week. So at most, assuming weather is nice, we're looking at a feeding a week. Throw in a few weeks of no bookings, bad weather or holidays and you're talking 30 feeds a year. That made me feel a lot better since the same sharks may not be visiting during that time.
So, after watching countless videos, determining the best liveaboard for us and researching how long it takes to get a shark bite victim to shore before they're a goner, we're diving in head first. :)