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Shark Diver Magazine

Trip Report
Fiji Islands, Bull Shark Expedition

Date
April 21-28, 2005
Location
Pacific Harbour, Fiji Islands
Objective
Photograph and film very big bull sharks
Weather
April is monsoon season in Fiji, it rained everyday. The rains caused the river washout to cloud up the dive site during low tide
Dive Conditions
Low vis due to river washout. Average 20-30 feet. 40-50 at its best. Water temp was an average 82 degrees. 3-5 mil wetsuit recommended
Type of Dive
Shark Feed. (fish scraps used to attract sharks)
Trip Highlights
Eight species of sharks; including a 16 foot tiger shark on our first day of diving. We saw lemons, bulls, tiger, pacific blacktips, whitetip reef, gray reef, silvertips and tawny nurse sharks.
Expedition Notes

5 AM
, Fiji time. I am sitting in bed listening to the pouring rain. Only three and half more hours till we can board the boat for our last day of shark diving. I am going to miss this place. We spent the week diving with eight different species of sharks and none of us have had enough. We all wish we had more time. On our first day of diving, Doris, a sixteen foot tiger shark came in to feed. She was enormous. The bulls sharks we have encountered are huge, but they all looked scrawny compared to her. It was easy to see that she rules these waters, all the other sharks moved away from us, and kept their distance while she fed. All except for the tawny nurse sharks, of course, they are not the brightest sharks out there.

5:30 AM. I can’t sleep so I get up and set up my camera gear. The Aquatica housing is working great with my cannon and I am very happy with it. The images have been coming out OK; despite the bad visibility we’ve had this week. After fiddling with it for a few minutes, I decide its ready to go and I set off in search of a coke. After 10 PM cokes become a precious commodity, so I am not thrilled with my chances. I walk out into the hotel lobby, it’s still dark out and the lobby is empty. I look around and all I see are chairs…why am I looking at chairs?

7:30 AM. I am sitting down at breakfast with bull shark expert Gary Adkison, and his lovely wife Brenda. We are trading stories of this weeks adventure and the hopes that Doris the tiger shark will come in to say good-bye. I also have high hopes of seeing some silvertip sharks today. I had seen a few on our first day of diving; around four came in to play but left quickly when Doris showed up. I was’t mad that Doris scared them off, because it meant I got to play with a tiger shark instead! So needless to say, I wasn’t able to get any images of silvertips, not even a blurry pic. I just couldn’t get the camera focused in time, it was frustrating, and they are such beautiful sharks. So I am hoping for another chance before I leave.

8:30 AM. As were loading the boat, talks begin about the bull sharks. We were just killing time while waiting for a couple of our guests Paul and Karen to arrive, (they were unusually late this morning?). One of the discussions was that we were trying to count exactly how many bull sharks were at yesterday’s feed. It was such an intense dive, with plenty of in your face action. After a friendly debate, we finally agree that it was around twelve mature bulls, which averaged around 600-700 pounds each, and anywhere from five to eight juvenile sharks. My business partner Raf got some excellent footage of the bulls with Sony’s new HD camera. It’s really a great camera, H2O Photo Pros provided one for us to use on the trip. On one the dives, Raf was almost knocked out cold by one of the sharks pectoral fins. The shark grabbed a bait from Russi, our dive masters hand, and took off fast. Raf was filming way too close, and got in it's way. It took him a few minutes to remember who he was, where he was, and why he owes me those $100. Paul and Karen finally arrived and wanted to know who had WAY too much energy this morning. It seems that early this morning someone had barricaded their room door with hotel furniture. No one fessed up to the crime. In fact I think the Fijian authorities are still investigating the matter…It’s a good thing they didn’t check for prints.

12:30 PM. Returning from the dive. We were all disappionted that Doris didn’t show up, but I did get my silvertip encounter. It was with a ten foot shark named Madonna. I got to spend maybe five minutes with her... just her and me dancing in the abyss. She just kept swimming circles around me and I twirled with her, snapping away, a huge smile on my face. With each pass, she would edge closer and closer to me. This was one of THE most memorable shark encounters I have ever had. I didn't even care when I looked at my images later and found that my strobe settings were too high, ruining almost all the images I shot. I just could not believe how close she came to me. Gary thinks it was because my camera housing is white, which kind of looks like bait (sweet!). I almost didn't see her swim in; I had my face buried in the coral looking for tiger and bull shark teeth. Gary called out to me, and I looked up to see this huge shark come flying in FAST.

1 PM. We docked the boat and everyone scurried to their rooms to shower off the days dive. Normally we would clean up then head down to the dining room for some food, good conversation and celebratory beers. But since it was our last day, we thought of doing something different. We all decided to head down to the dining room for some food, good conversation and a few GOOD BYE beers… you have to break up the monotony!

Check back for our 2006 Fiji bull shark trip!

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