NOT everyone would consider a close encounter with a shark a “privilege”.
However, for Bibbenluke man Rick Carey, a diving experience on the NSW north coast left him in “awe” of the ocean’s predators.
Mr Carey recently returned from a trip to South West Rocks, near Kempsey.
It’s a region well-known as a sanctuary for the critically endangered grey nurse sharks, but even Mr Carey got more than he bargained for during a dive.
“I was sitting on the bottom surrounded by about 30-40 sharks,” he said.
“It was awesome and a privilege to be among so many predatory animals.
“All my life sharks have been the stuff of my nightmares.
“And the grey nurse in particular looks terrible – they have that real sharky look.”
Despite that, Mr Carey said he was not worried by the nearness of the imposing figures.
“I was not in the least bit threatened.
“They are sometimes called the labradors of the ocean – they are fairly placid unless you get in their way or interfere.
“Although they do have a mouthful of teeth like nothing you’ve ever seen!”
Mr Carey hasn’t been diving long, but is so enthusiastic about the sport he has taken it on as his new career direction.
“I’ve only been diving for 18 months,” Mr Carey said
“I’m actually quite an accomplished climber.”
“But I’m nearly 60 and have had some shoulder problems.
“SCUBA is easier on the body.”
Mr Carey is doing an internship at Merimbula Divers Lodge and is also studying to become a dive control specialist – “so I can take others out to share these experiences”.
“I’m definitely going again – it was an amazing experience,” he said.
“I was very lucky earlier in the year to see one off Merimbula. They are very rare and don’t usually come down this far.”
Mr Carey said if anyone was interested in joining him on his next dive, they could call him on 0429 943 404.