1. The Apartments
The Apartments is the best Sydney dive site to see the Grey Nurse sharks. The Apartments has been a mating location for Sydney’s endangered Grey Nurse sharks for at least a half a century. The Apartments dive site is one if not the best recreational dive site for Sydney divers and not only has the largest Grey Nurse sharks in residence but tens of thousands of resident schooling Promfret fish, the Grey Nurse sharks can often be found located in or under these large schools of fish. Sydney Dive Charters dive guide will guide our dive group through the Apartments dive site to see the best areas with the marine life not only the Grey Nurse sharks, Promfret’s but Giant Cuttlefish, schools of Yellowtail / Yakka’s, Lionfish and the many large hard and soft coral or colourful sponges, your dive guide with also take you through several large swim throughs depending on the individual divers preference. Sydney Dive Charters dive boat generally anchors in the shallow area of the Apartments dive site this allows our divers to start their boat dive off on the reef top in 8m of water before diving into the valley at 10m where we find the Grey Nurse, Wobbegong, Port Jackson or Crest Horn sharks and the schooling Promfret’s. After exploring the valley your dive guide will guide to the area of the ‘Big Rock’ to dive though the ‘Cathedral’ swim through before moving in to the 16m area where we also commonly encounter the congregating Grey Nurse sharks.
The best time to see the sharks is in summer
Grey Nurse shark numbers increase from December and they peak around April/May, so diving in Sydney’s summer months is the ideal time to scuba dive with these amazing creatures.
The water temperature is a major factor for the Grey Nurse shark numbers and they’ll start to congregate in larger numbers when the water temperature reaches 20 to 25 degrees which is the optimal temperature range, even in the winter months we commonly see several Grey Nurse sharks not only at the Apartments but many of our other Sydney dive sites.
Our protocol when diving with Sydney’s grey nurse sharks
There is of course no guarantee the Grey Nurse sharks will be there on your boat dive day; even under optimal conditions. We’re dealing with wild animals who have their own agenda. On every boat dive to the Apartments, we brief divers on the correct protocol when interact with Sydney marine life.
We do not attempt to touch the Grey Nurse or any other type of sharks we commonly encounter, but rather stay still on the rock walls out of their way, this also have the added benefit of increasing the time that the Grey Nurse sharks stay in that dive area before they move off to another area that they commonly congregate. Underwater scooters are also not used so as not to scare off the Grey Nurse sharks due to the noise.
Grey Nurse sharks will let you know when they’re feeling threatened
Grey Nurse sharks will turn rapidly and give a sonic tail snap when they feel threatened, so divers will quickly realise when the shark determines they are getting too close. The resounding snap will be quite audible underwater as sound travels three times as fast as on land.
When not feeling threatened, the Grey Nurse sharks may get to within a few meters of scuba divers, particularly when encountered at the valley – an expanse where in some narrow spots you’ll be surrounded by small fish – which sometimes leads to exciting encounters when Grey Nurse sharks suddenly appear through the schools of fish.
Grey Nurse sharks in close proximity
At the rear of the valley there is a small sand patch and it is there where scuba divers can see approximately 20 to 25 sharks in an area of less than 10m3. Visibility can vary from 5m to 40m. Many Grey Nurse sharks can also be encountered at the ‘Big Rock’ east of the main drop-off for this dive site. Generally the Grey Nurse sharks can be found hanging out under the very large schools of the Promfret fish which call the Apartments dive site home. Sydney Dive Charters experienced dive guide will guide you to and from these prominent and important sections of the Apartments dive site.
Learn more about Sydney’s best recreational boat dive the Apartments here and about Sydney’s top dive sites here.
2. Magic Point
Magic Point has been one of Sydney’s top shark boat dive sites – famous for its significant concentrations of Grey Nurse sharks. During the summer peak season, as many as 30 to 40 Grey Nurse sharks can be seen at the entrance to a cave or cruising the reef edge. The cave is located at the bottom of a wall that drops from 7m to 16m, our purpose built dive boat will anchor in the shallow area of the reef if able so our scuba divers can start their boat dive off in around 8m before setting off with our experienced dive guide for the shark cave. At the cave’s entrance, there is a large flat sand patch which the divers use as a viewing platform, once our divers have had seen the Grey Nurse sharks, schooling Yellowtail / Yakka’s Sydney Dive Charters dive guide will guide you down the reef edge to explore the sponge gardens to find the resident Weedy Seadragons, Bull Ray’s, or if were lucky the Pineapple Fish!
Some ground rules for diving with grey nurse sharks at Magic Point
For everyone’s safety, including that of the sharks, all our scuba divers are asked to respect the following rules when diving at Magic Point.
First off, divers are not allowed to enter the cave and they must keep a respectful distance with the sharks. Grey nurse shark encounters take place along the reef edge. Divers will see them as they head down the boulder slope to the sand edge at between 18m to 23m
Beyond the sharks there’s still plenty to see on this great Sydney dive
Past the sand edge, our diving group head towards the small kelp/soft coral gardens which typically feature the amazing Weedy Seadragons. Up to 8 Weedy Seadragons can usually be seen on one dive, Sydney Dive Charters dive guide will be keeping an eye out for them but would love your help finding these camouflage masters hiding amongst the kelp gardens.
Weedy Seadragons are quite hard to find as they use the gardens as natural camouflage. They also see you coming and move around to ensure there’s always an obstacle between them and any perceived threat.
Pineapple fish on display!
Divers can also see pineapple fish in this area. These rare fish can be found along the ledges or small caves encountered on this dive. The pineapple fish’s skin has a white or silvery appearance with distinctive markings along their body.
Image credits: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineapplefish
A popular Sydney dive spot where the sharks’ well-being is paramount
dive groups may need to sequence their dives if other groups are around as there is a maximum number of 12 scuba divers at one time at the cave entrance to limit the stress on the Grey Nurse sharks. Sydney Dive Charters also requires that our dive groups situate themselves on the sand located out front of the cave so as not to further stress the Grey Nurse sharks and under no circumstances enter the dive that the Grey Nurse sharks call their home.
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I had an awesome couple of dives on the Ex-HMAS Adelaide for my 100th dive. It was an amazing experience thanks to Jason’s excellent boat and service, his detailed briefing really helped me navigate the ship wreck.
We dive regularly with Jason. He really looks after us. Great diving. Love the boat. Dives run on time which let’s us get to work after our dives.
I’ve chartered Sydney Dive Charters for my company’s annual Christmas party and we had a great time, the boat is great and Jason really went out of his way to accommodate our needs. I will definitely be back on board this year!
“I’ve been diving with Jason aboard Sydney Dive Charters dive boat for nearly 3 years now and I keep coming back. I’ve had the pleasure of exploring and enjoying some of the best technical wrecks in the Sydney Region. The boat makes for comfortable, easy diving – which when coupled with Jason’s local knowledge provides a complete service. There is nothing better than diving on a boat when you know the skipper is first and foremost a diver himself”
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