I was, to be perfectly honest, completely freaking out. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it really and as much as I made jokes about being gobbled up limb by limb I wasn’t really finding it all that funny. The two and a half-hour boat trip out to the Neptune Islands gave my brain plenty of time to do some thought backflips and I jumped from being thrilled to scared to happy to anxious to wanting to vomit.I managed to keep my breakfast down though, unlike most people on the boat. The long ride from Port Lincoln, on the Eyre Peninsula, to the islands is really choppy and when you’re that nervous it’s worse. Once the cage goes in and you’re given the safety brief, that’s when the gravity of what you’re about to do really sinks in.

As I slowly climbed down into the cage, I realised my fear actually had nothing to do with the feared Great White Shark, rather it was the ocean itself I was afraid of. I never used to be scared, and when I was a teenager I would have been the first to get in that cage, but lately a switch has gone off in my head and I’ve been finding myself feeling frightened of things I never used to be afraid of, like heights and open water. Maybe it’s just part of being a responsible adult, maybe it happens when you stop pushing yourself, I don’t know. Yet hopping into that water brought me face to face with that fear.

The first dive I just had to focus on being in the water, using my regulator properly, and calmly breathing in and out. Eventually it got easier. However, after a while I had had enough and had to get out. We hadn’t seen a shark yet. After a hot coffee and a breather I psyched myself up to get back in, but I told myself it would be the last time, and if I didn’t see the shark, so be it. I stayed under for a good 45 minutes, until my face went blue, my ears hurt from the pressure and I had a heache. I was so determined to see that bloody shark! Eventually though, I had to get out. I was freezing!

Of course, as soon as the next group of divers got in the cage, the shark came, Stuff it, I thought, I’m getting back in! And it was so, so worth it.

These amazing creatures really command our respect. They are so calm and graceful; even though I was struggling with the dive they made me feel peaceful. They have such a gruesome reputation but to see them up close was just the most awe-inspiring experience. We saw two sharks a male and a female from what I could see, both about 4-5 metres long. The male even had a bunch of fish swimming along with him! He also had a few scars.

We were so grateful to be able to see the sharks in their natural surroundings, doing what they would normally do without us there. It was really important for us to be able to see them in the wild without upsetting them, as they deserve our respect. Adventure Bay Charters in Port Lincoln really looked after us and the sharks, and we couldn’t have had a better day.