The next feature in our new Gallery series where we let the photos tell the story… This week, Nick and Caroline showcase South Australia.
When we travelled to South Australia we had one thing on our mind, to photograph Great White Sharks for our book World’s Best Wildlife Dive Sites. We had also been commissioned to write an article about our travels and so wanted to pack in as much as possible in our all too short stay. We knew that is was possible to photograph leafy seadragons in the area, so we arranged that, before heading to Kangaroo Island (where we also found seadragons. There is so much to see and do in this area, with great wine on offer too! We were lucky enough to meet, and spend a morning with, Rodney Fox (along with his wife Kay), to chat about their amazing life that has revolved around the Great White Shark for the past 60 years! Our shark diving was done with Rodney’s son Andrew, who has taken over the business and runs expeditions to the Neptune Islands year-round.
Alas we went in our summer, and therefore their winter, and did not get the best of the diving conditions. But we got most of the stuff we wanted, and our short trip just made us want to return someday to try it all again.
Image 1: A New Zealand Fur Seal plays with us for the final part of our dive. We had gone looking for Leafy Seadragons, but come away with an amazing experience of 3 of these seals turning and twisting around us a great speed.
Image 2: A Great White Shark cruises near (but not near enough) our submerged cage. The Rodney Fox Expedition is the only one that offers a cage down to the sea floor where you can get more natural shots of these magnificent sharks, but alas the weather and visibility was against us. Still quite an incredible experience though!
Image 3: Our other main marine life target was the Leafy Seadragon and we saw these diving at Rapid Bay Jetty near Adelaide and whilst diving Kangaroo Island. They are delicate creatures, closely related to the seahorse, and have superb camouflage. You really need to move slowly and keep your eyes peeled to see them. This image shows how they blend in with the seaweed. We made sure we did not stress out these creatures and only took a handful of shots of each one we encountered, as there is some worry that divers are disturbing them and causing a drop in their population figures.
Image 4: As the underwater conditions were less than perfect, we also took some topside shots. The Great White Sharks are not fed on these trips (this is against the marine park rules) but tuna heads are used to tempt them closer to the cages. This shark took a lunge to see if it could grab the fish head in time. In the evenings, we sat down with Andrew Fox, who used our images to identify individual sharks, which much of the time he can do on sight.
Image 5: Under Rapid Bay Jetty there is a host of other fish and marine life to explore, if you ever find that you have had your fill of the seadragons. At the end of the pier, a dive they call the Aquarium, is well worth a visit, with nudibranchs, schooling fish and huge sponges, there is enough to keep you entertained for several more dives.
Image 6: The chum designed to attract the sharks also attracts plenty of other fish, who seem unconcerned by the huge predators that cruised past. With the cage moving around in the swell, it was tough underwater photography conditions. We will just have to go back!
Image 7: Little Penguins come out at night at some coastal locations in South Australia and you can do night tours to see them as they head back to their roosts at dusk. This is a great post dive experience, and there is so much wildlife to see on land, including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats……
Image 8: We also visited an Australian Sea Lion colony on Kangaroo Island. These charismatic animals may go out feeding for days on end, and then will return for a well-deserved snooze. Whilst you are required to keep to strict paths so as not to disturb the colony, sometimes you will get some really close encounters.
South Australia has so much to offer both above and below the waves. We flew into Adelaide and then hired a car so that we could tour the vineyards and get to the dive sites and onto Kangaroo Island. We did a short flight to hop from Adelaide to Port Lincoln in order to catch our expedition boat to the Neptune Islands, where we spent four days out at sea trying to photograph the Great White Sharks. What would we change – only the weather, so next time we will try again in Spring or Autumn.
Take a look at these links to find out more about Diving South Australia:
For more from Nick and Caroline, visit www.frogfishphotography.com