NEW E.B. GO Vision Media’s Tahiti Video Feeding Stingrays
and Swimming with Sharks on Moorea with Albert Tours and Why Swimming with Sharks on Moorea Used to be in Deeper Waters with Bigger Sharks Being Fed While Guests Held on to a Rope
This video, about ten minutes, focuses on the first part of the Lagoon Motu Picnic from Albert Tours on Moorea in Tahiti that involves feeding stingrays in the shallow waters while a herd of Black Tipped Reef Sharks circle around looking to pick up scraps of fish chum. They don’t eat people but some of them lurking about get pretty big. Click Here for a published article about the full tour from Albert Tours along with videos and pictures.
Swimming with Sharks on Moorea Used to be in Deeper Waters
with Bigger Sharks Being Fed While Guests Held on to a Rope
Feeding stingrays with sharks around is a common activity throughout the Tahitian Islands but one does have to be careful. Black Tipped Reef Sharks are timid and generally harmless and, in the current manner that stingrays are fed and handled by tourists, are not fed directly by those conducting tours. It used to be different, for those two activities were done separately and in far different circumstances than today. Lemon sharks are a common sight around the islands and can be aggressive and dangerous, as experienced divers know all too well. Now feeding stingrays with sharks around, on Moorea, takes place in one shallow area away from the twin-bay entrances, but in 2007, as this reporter knows first-hand that was not the case.
In 2007 the activity was split and the first stop was in water about 40 feet deep just inside the open-sea entrance to Cook’s Bay, see enlargeable map to the right. The ship would be anchored and a rope deployed so tourists could hold on and watch the divers feed and film the Black Tipped Reef Sharks, which are circling the boat and thus going behind the guests who are laying out prone in the water. Orders are NO PEEING in the water, something to do with the sharks reacting badly.
While divers give out huge hunks of meat and fish a cameraman roams around to get shots of all the activity and the guests. If one lets go of the rope it is easy to drift away from the boat with the current, so it is important to hold on tight. In comparison to the size of sharks now encountered in the shallows near shore, these ones were considerably larger huge and seemed more menacing, even though, as mentioned, this breed is not aggressive towards humans and are looking to pick up chum from the divers. As one is stretched out in the water, and of course not paying attention to your feet, a peek backwards reveals sharks cruising close by and this can be rather disconcerting.
Scores of tropical fish of all colors and sizes join the proceedings and crowd around the feeding trough and that enhances the beauty and experience of the moment. It is really exciting and many struggle with cameras with one hand, while holding the rope, to capture it sufficiently. More of these same small fish will be seen during the snorkeling in a calm lagoon after lunch on the Motu, or small island, just off tip of Moorea at the other end of the island. In waters about five to ten-feet deep the snorkeler navigates through coral canyons, separated by fairly wide avenues of sand, and sees all manner of creatures, plants and coral in every color of the rainbow and many one never knew existed. Enlarge map and note two islands at left tip of island, the lagoon is in between.
For those who have never been this close to large sharks in the wild it gets the adrenaline pumping and keeps the eyes wide open. The open sea entrance to Cook’s Bay is not far away and that brings the story to why they don’t conduct shark feedings like this on Moorea anymore.
Why They Stopped Feeding Sharks Near Entrance to Cook’s Bay
Upon return to Moorea in 2012, five years later and with two young children, four and two, we naturally looked forward to going on the Lagoon Motu Picnic with the kids. We were staying in a beach bungalow at the Hotel Kaveka and seeing the proprietor, Greg Hardie, and his wife along with the head of Albert Tours, Reggie, five years later was terrific.
The Albert Tours Lagoon Motu Picnic, with our same guide, Ziggy, was terrific fun for the kids and we loved seeing them involved in the process. However, I noticed the shark feeding aspect had been replaced, really eliminated, because, as the video above shows, one gets off the boat in shallow waters to pet and feed stingrays while the sharks circle around underwater, dashing in among those standing around, looking for scraps of food dropped or discarded. Many don’t the have patience or ability to stay below to view the sharks extensively and, while it is fun interacting with the stingrays, underwater there are lots of stringrays carpeting the sand, gliding gracefully along the bottom as the sun refracts through the water on their backs and then swooping up when the possibility of a food presents itself.
All this while on the outskirts, towards shore and where the sandbar descends down, groups of sharks move back and forth along the perimeter, poking their noses towards cameras then moving away, diving down to circle around and near people standing around who are blissfully unaware the beasts are so close. You have to stay below decks to really get the full picture it helps to have fins, mask, snorkel and weight belt if you’re trying to shoot underwater video or pictures. Good shots happen and the boat stays at this location for a 45-minutes and this allows for many good photographic and video opportunities.
**Now for the real reason they stopped Black Tipped Reef Sharks at Cook’s Bay entrance: Lemon Sharks were sneaking in thru the pass during feedings, they were learning, and picking off small Black Tipped Reef Sharks with tourists not far away in the water. This made for unsafe circumstances and a possible PR disaster for Tahiti Tourisme.