Rare sighting: Resort guest shares shark encounter
LADY Elliot Island Eco resort guest and professional photographer Adrian Bullock has shared his encounter with one of the ocean's apex predators.
While on a guided advanced Snorkel Safari, a few hundred metres from the reef, Adrian encountered a "placid and inquisitive" great white shark.
Due to the Island's location as the southernmost Island on the Great Barrier Reef and only 5kms from the continental shelf, it has developed a reputation for amazing wildlife encounters.
According to Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Adrian described the encounter as "the moment my leisurely snorkelling trip turned into one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.
"As the 4+ metre great white closed in on me, my emotions were running wild," he said.
"With about 40 metres between me and the boat I did the only thing I believe I should have done, and that was to never take my eyes off this beautiful creature.
"With adrenaline pulsating through my body, I managed to have the clarity to take a few deep breaths, slow my heart rate down, and film/photograph my experience.
"With the shark only metres away from me I recognised its extremely large girth, believing it to be very well fed or even pregnant, and for some reason this made me a little more relaxed."
This encounter was only the second confirmed sighting of a great white shark in the past 25 years at the island.
During the same snorkel safari guests also saw eagle rays, dolphins and witnessed migrating humpback whales breaching in the distance.
Biopixel Oceans Foundation shark researcher Richard Fitzpatrick told Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, that "the footage from Adrian shows an amazing encounter where the shark swims casually by showing no aggression".
"Long term tracking research has shown that great whites move up both the Eastern and Western coasts during the winter months which coincides with whale migrations," he said.
"Considering the number of people and the time spent in the water around Lady Elliot Island this is an extremely rare sighting."
Managing Director and Custodian of Lady Elliot Island Peter Gash OAM has been visiting and swimming in the surrounding waters for almost 40 years said "this sighting is extremely rare here on Lady Elliot Island".
"It is understood that these animals in particular are following the annual humpback whale migration that occurs yearly between June-October," he said.
"Whilst an exciting and thrilling experience this was for Adrian, it's a clear reminder that we do share our waters with these apex predators."
The resort encourages people to remain shark aware at all times and to never swim near a river mouth, always swim with a buddy, do not swim at dawn and dusk, never swim in cloudy or poor visibility water or anywhere boats regularly clean fish or drop food scraps overboard. On Lady Elliot Island, if guests are uncomfortable with the thought of sharks in the open ocean, the Eastern tidal Lagoon is a safe and protected location to snorkel while still experiencing the amazing ecosystem of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef.