Rodney Fox Trip Report
Posted 14 June 2012 - 03:00 AM
Perth-Adelaide-Port Lincoln on Qantas cost approx $750 return. Normal baggage restrictions (23 kgs check in, 7 kgs carry on).
Arrived in Port Lincoln at 18.00 and travelled to the Marina hotel for a bite to eat before boarding the MV Princess II at 20.00. Port Lincoln is a basic airport. You can order taxis during the flight from Adelaide, as there are no taxis waiting at the airport. Cost approx $50 for taxi from the airport to the marina.
MV Princess II was a comfortable boat with adequate space for 12 guests. Food was good throughout the trip. There are 2 main cages, a 4-person cage for the surface and a 4-person cage for the bottom. Basically we rotated between surface sessions in the morning and the bottom cage sessions in the afternoon. Generally there was enough time for everyone to have 2 or 3 sessions per day. The focus was on spending quality time in the water rather than spending unproductive time in the cages. The crew were great at attracting & keeping the sharks interested the without over chumming the water.
In the evenings there was a general talk on the sharks we encountered during the day and various insights into the research the Rodney Fox boat is involved in. I was particular interested in the hearing the shark tracking paths along the Perth coastline!
We really lucked out with the weather. We had calm seas, light winds & overcast conditions. Massive storms were forecast for 2 days after out departure so we definitely enjoyed the topside conditions. The water temp was a cool 17 C and viss was around 15-20 m.
Day 1- North Neptune Island
We left Port Lincoln in the early hours and arrived at the Neptune islands (North Island) around 10.30 (Travel time is approx 4 hours). Unfortunately we did not stop at Hoskins Island for the seal swim as there are a lot of sharks around at this time of year.
After a comprehensive safety briefing we hit the water for our 1st surface cage session. I have seen white sharks before in South Africa but it is still an amazing experience when the first shark makes an appearance. Throughout the trip we had regular shark encounters. We rarely had to wait more than 5 mins for shark encounters when we were in the cage.
Late in the afternoon we made our first bottom cage dive. The cage is lowered to the seabed at a depth of 20 m. This was an amazing experience. The behaviour of the sharks was very different compared to the surface encounters. The sharks would slowly circle the cage and often make close approaches. Also saw several rays during the bottom cage sessions, large stingrays & a few smaller eagle/cow? rays.
At the end of day 1 we cruised to the South Neptune islands.
Day 2- South Neptune Islands
Topside viewing & 2 bottom cage dives. Great shark action throughout the day.
Day 3- North Neptune Islands
Topside viewing, 1 bottom cage dive and 2 surface cage sessions. The bottom cage dive was not as sharky this time. There was also a lot of fish in the water close to the cage that made shark photography challenging.
All up we had a very successful trip. We identified 17 different great whites during our three days with several more unidentified sharks around. Several of the sharks were large, some males around 5m. However it was still a bit early in the season for the giant females.
Amazing trip and i will definitely be going again. It is expensive (around $3250 including flights, for 3 days in the water) but the experience is magical. All three encounters (topside viewing, surface cage & bottom cage) offered amazing photo opportunities.
1. Take a dry suit. Seriously I was freezing in the bottom cage (I was wearing a vest + full 3mm suit + 7/5 suit +hood). The surface cage was bearable but next time I will definitely bring a dry suit.
2. I did not use strobes in the top cage. The top cage can move around in the swell and there are lots of bubbles, bait in the water. Strobes were good for the bottom cage as there was cage less movement. The sharks would also slowly approach the cage at the bottom so it was possible to use strobes. I tried my video lights but they seemed to attract a lot of fish while in the bottom cage.
3. I used the 8mm(16mm equivalent) fisheye lens, 11mm (22mm equivalent) & 14mm (28mm equivalent) on my GH2. I found the 11 mm to be the best lens. More often than not the fisheye lens was too wide. The sharks only made a few very close passes each dive to justify using the fisheye. The 11mm (actually the 14mm pancake lens with wide angle conversion lens attached) was more useful. I had a 28-280mm lens for shark viewing topside (rarely used focal length above 70-80 mm) as most of the shark breaching was around 5-10 m from the boat.
4. Seriously take a drysuit.
Posted 16 June 2012 - 10:13 AM
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