Scuba diving in Fiji is famously spectacular, and there is one dive in particular that has earned itself an international reputation as the best of its kind. This dive operates out of Pacific Harbour on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, and offers the unique opportunity to encounter no less than eight species of shark in a single dive. Known as the Beqa Lagoon shark dive, the experience takes place without the restraint of a cage and enables divers to come face-to-face with bull and tiger sharks, as well as tawny nurse sharks, lemon sharks, blacktip and white-tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks and silvertip sharks. Because the sharks are fed during the dive by professional feeders, they come incredibly close, and their proximity combined with Fiji’s reliably good visibility makes this dive a dream come true for shark lovers and underwater photographers alike. Last month, I signed up to find out whether the reality of a shark dive cited as the best in the world could possibly live up to the hype.
The dive is a two-tank package, allowing divers to spend a total of around two hours in the water with the sharks, at a dive site just fifteen minutes from shore. I spent the journey in a state of frantic anticipation, unable to contain my excitement at the prospect of shortly being surrounded by a large number of very big sharks. The ocean when we finally descended was a circus of activity- the natural arena that the feeding took place in was obscured by a shifting, iridescent wall of shimmering fish. From enormous giant trevallies to darting schools of snapper, the productivity of the reef was astounding. In fact, I was so mesmerized by the life pulsating around us that it took me a few seconds to acknowledge the arrival of the first sharks. First one, then five more until within minutes the ocean was filled with them- greedy, mustachioed nurse sharks, sedately dignified lemons and the show’s true stars, the bull sharks. The bulls were mesmerizing, easily the largest that I had ever encountered and too many of them to count. Although they emanated a raw power befitting one of the ocean’s greatest predators, they were infinitely graceful and took the fish heads proffered by the feeders with an unexpected gentleness.
Throughout the course of our two dives, we saw seven of the possible eight species, with the sole exception of the tiger shark. From out of the blue a darting, slender silvertip graced us briefly with its presence, and later in the shallower section of the dive we watched white-tip reef sharks cautiously approach the bait drum for their share of the spoils. The feeding was conducted with the utmost respect for diver safety and for the sharks themselves, and our ability to spend so long surrounded by sharks in feeding mode without incident served as a testament to their non-aggressive nature. Witnessing so many species of shark in their natural environment was an absolute privilege, and the euphoria that I experienced upon surfacing led me to conclude that Fiji’s shark dive is absolutely worth the hype.
Article by Scuba Dive Asia