Swimming With Sharks
Action&Attraction





No need to be fixated on razor-sharp teeth! This is an eco-friendly adventure suitable for all ages.

When I was asked to swim with sharks, my first thought was “Heck yes!” Then I became slightly apprehensive, but attempted to calm myself down by thinking, “They wouldn’t let me do it if it was dangerous, right?” Afterwards I realized it was the experience of a lifetime, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I’d never been to Serangan (a.k.a. Turtle Island) before, and I soon discovered it’s a place worth visiting for a variety of reasons, especially for the opportunity to swim with sharks.

Our eco-friendly adventure started at the Agus Bar and Restaurant, an easy place to find from the directions on the website. Bali Sharks is conveniently located next door where we were greeted by our guide. After a quick rundown on what to expect, we were fitted with neoprene booties and escorted down a nearby dock to a waiting boat for the 10-minute ride to Shark Island.

Rescued Sharks
Shark Island consists of a flotilla of shark pools in the middle of the bay, surrounded by beautiful beaches and with tropical scenery in the distance. Two covered structures offer ample shade and there are three primary pools, each separated according to the type of shark; White Tip, Black Tip and Bamboo Reef sharks. The Bamboo Reef sharks were the most intriguing with their dark colored rings resembling a bamboo-like pattern.

Most sharks in the pools are about a meter in length, with the largest one on this adventure being about 1.5 meters. All are rescues, and without the help of Bali Sharks they would most certainly have met a dreadful fate from shark finning – the practice of catching sharks, removing their fins and dumping them back into the ocean. All these rescued sharks are rehabilitated and eventually released back into their natural habitat in the Gili Islands.

Our adventure started with a briefing and hand feeding the White Tip sharks from the safety of the flotilla. They’re quite docile, and they routinely swim up to the side taking scraps of fish right from your hand if you dare. Otherwise, you just get as close as you want, drop the fish into the water below, and watch a pseudo shark feeding frenzy. They’re quite beautiful and graceful creatures, as they swarm below and boil the surface of the water. They quickly swim up, grab the food, and dart away to the safety of the depths. The sharks are contained by netting that extends down 3-4 meters.

Jump Right In
If you are so inclined, and I highly recommend it, Bali Sharks provides snorkel gear and you can enter each pool from a wooden ladder. From there you can swim among them and become one with the sharks. The mere thought of swimming with sharks gets the adrenalin pumping, but once in the water they simply become beautiful creatures gliding gracefully past as they swim back and forth.

Time after time we found ourselves on opposite sides of the pool swimming towards each other encouraging them to swim through us. Once they became habituated to our presence, we were able to reach out and cradle their fine sandpaper-like skinned bodies as they glided by. We found the Black Tip sharks more curious and less timid, swimming right up to our faces as they narrowly avoided us. Never did we feel threatened. It was a wonderful eco-friendly experience, and is suitable for people all ages and swimming abilities.

Bali Sharks allows at least an hour of swimming with the sharks, which is plenty. Then it was back in the boat and over to the Agus Bar and Restaurant for some lunch, refreshments and relaxation time to reminisce about our adventure. After lunch we visited the Turtle Conservation and Education Center (TCEC), where we observed and interacted with various species of rescued turtles.

Eco-Tour
Both Bali Sharks and the TCEC serve as rescue operations. Bali Sharks estimates the number of sharks they have rehabilitated and released back into the wild since they began at over 80. Therefore, the US $99 price of the eco-tour not only covers a worthwhile adventure but also helps a great cause. Bali Sharks uses part of that money to purchase netted sharks from fishermen who would otherwise cut off their fins and sell them at market.

Bali Sharks is located in Serangan, a quaint village isle between Kuta and Sanur, accessible over a short bridge and just a 15 minute drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. It shares convenient proximity to the most popular Bali beach towns, and the entire experience takes a minimum of two hours.

But with lunch and the Turtle Conservation Tour you should plan to spend 3 hours or more. Finish off with a visit to nearby Serangan Beach for a wonderful morning or afternoon excursion in Bali. Bali Sharks hours of operation are open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and you can find more information on their website.

Bali Sharks
Serangan (Turtle Island)
(0361) 996-5101

By Bob Priest

Photos Courtesy Of Bali Sharks



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Posted by » Bali and Beyond Magazine

January 2015 EDITION
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CONTRIBUTORS
Anggara Mahendra
is a Balinese photographer based in Denpasar. He is currently working on personal documentary projects related to cultural, social and environmental issues. www.anggaramahendra.com
Dewi Irma
has a wide range of interests from fashion, art, design, music and food, to traveling. She dreams of having a cafe & bar of her own in the future.
Brook Mitchell
is an Australian travel and documentary photographer currently based in Bali. His work has been published in numerous international publications, focusing on remote places and cultures.
Katie Truman
waved goodbye to her native England fifteen years ago and has been living in Southeast Asia as a freelance writer ever since. She contributes to numerous international publications on her two big loves, Vietnam and Indonesia.

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