Q: Do you run the same length of tours all year round?+-A:
No, we tailor our tours to give the absolute best chance of great white success.
With our 50 years + experience, we have found the greatest success by running a variety of itineraries that take daylight hours, typical weather and likely shark activity into consideration. With daylight saving (October to March) in Spring and Summer, we offer our 2 Night Adventures and 3 Night Expeditions. Typically the weather is more favourable at this time of year and the beautiful long summer nights are just a joy!
The shark activity is very strong at this time with mainly male great white sharks that are part of the the new springtime shark influx from late September.
If you want to see the BIGGEST sharks, then Autumn and Winter is the time for you. Early April to August is the time of the super giant female great whites. At a genuine and impressive 5m+ these impressive leviathans of the deep are a 'must see' for many. Our tours at this time take into consideration, the shorter days and typical weather, so to give best chance of success we run our 4 Night Expeditions. This additional night onboard gives us flexibility as to when we depart, allowing us to dodge the worst weather and get down to the sheltered anchorage of the Neptune Islands.
Q: When is the best time of year to see sharks?+-A:
This often asked question does not have the same answer for everyone! Please consider all the information below which has been put together by Andrew Fox after an unparalleled 40 years of experience diving with great white sharks.
For a whole combination of factors including that of shark reliability, shark size, productive weather, water temperature, water visibility and photographic productivity, Andrew recommends the times of mid-September to late-January and then again in April – June each year. He also personally enjoys various elements of most other months.
In over 50 years of cage-diving history, Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions has experienced seasonal pattern changes in shark activity at the various locations we have operated in. We now work exclusively within the Neptune Islands Marine Park, both North and South Island Groups.
The Neptune Islands are a unique location in the world, technically being able to produce reliable great white shark diving throughout much of the year. With our multi-day itineraries and ocean floor cage facilities, Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions enjoys the industry’s highest success rates in year-round productivity with great white sharks.
Although there are general long-term trends, great white shark abundance is still often difficult to predict in some years, and while many months enjoy an incredible 100% reliability of sightings for many years on end now, the sharks just cannot always be completely guaranteed at any time.
Below we look at details including current (10 years) monthly trends in shark numbers, sex and size of the sharks, their reliability, and the prevailing environmental conditions throughout the year. This information should help people choose the best time for their needs. We also want it known that in regards to both the monthly shark activity and elements of the weather, that we do often experience exceptions to these general rules every year.
In recent years, the period of mid/late-September to mid/late-January has frequently delivered record high numbers of sharks, along with super high reliability. The period of early/ mid-April to late June has also been extremely reliable with the exception of June 2018 which disappointed after 10-15 years of being one of the very best months.
The highest numbers of sharks seen do correspond closely with the reliability of the sharks (above) however, record numbers are recorded more so between September and January in recent years.
The very largest sharks seen are usually mature female sharks, which can measure over 5m long. These super giants are most likely to be seen between April and August, peaking in April to June. Females, in general, can be seen as late as October. Large adult male sharks measuring over 4m long arrive randomly year-round at the Neptune’s. These old boys are often more consistent and "photogenic" than the typically more cautious giant females.
The brightest sunny weather at the Neptune Islands is usually experienced between the months of October and April.
The warmest water temperatures for the Neptune Islands is found between January and May when water temperatures rise up to 18-20C. Offshore currents do however maintain temperatures between 15-20C throughout the year.
Most Unreliable Month
March has generally proven to be the most unreliable month for shark sightings over the last 20 years. Ironically March is also the best and most productive month for weather. However, in the last few years, mid-March onwards has also often delivered satisfying shark productivity.
Over the last 10 years, August has often also proved unreliable with hit and miss results. In the last few recent years, the month of February has also recorded far fewer sharks than we have been used to over the previous 5 fabulous summery February’s.
Although striking clear water visibility can be found throughout much of the year, the very clearest waters are often found from August to October when the water is at its coolest of about 15 C.
Swimming with Sea Lions
Apart from the shark viewing activities, and depending on each group's wishes, nearly all summer tours, and most tours taken between September and May have favourable conditions for swimming /diving with Australian sea lions at Hopkins Island,
Island cruises and Shore Party Tours
The September to May timeframe, with typically lower swell waves, is also conducive to more shore party landings on the mainland or even at the Neptune Islands themselves during the tour.
Other Shark Species
The September to May timeframe also gives a higher chance of mako sharks and bronze whaler sharks visiting our divers at this time, in addition to the great whites.
Length of Tours
Most dates outside our summer months have a minimum length of 3 nights duration to allow for the shorter daylight hours experienced, and to help overcome the potential for any poorer weather at this time. Trips of 3 nights or longer give us the wonderful flexibility of avoiding any possible bad weather and significantly avoiding the need for frustrating cancellations that might otherwise compromise shorter length tours in the winter months.
The fairer weather and longer daylight hours in summer allow us to confidently and successfully run some shorter itineraries and still achieve the high level of satisfaction we are renowned for. Various shorter 2 to 3-night itineraries are possible options from November to April due to the increased reliability of good weather.
Even though our expedition vessel is a large comfortable and safe boat built to manage the Southern Ocean and get safely to our sheltered anchorages, those people particularly sensitive to seasickness would be recommended to select a date from the November to April time frame. Another option if somehow possible for such sensitive people is to look at long range weather forecasts and book at short notice. We are happy to help advise here.
Q: How do I get to Port Lincoln?+-A:
Port Lincoln is situated on the beautiful Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.
Adelaide International Airport is Australia's fastest growing airport. It is serviced directly from many international destinations and all major Australian cities.
For those with a little more time, Premier Stateliner offer a return bus service from Adelaide to Port Lincoln.
For those driving, it is an approx. 7 hour drive from Adelaide to Port Lincoln with some stunning views on the way.
Q: How do you attract great white sharks to the boat?+-A:
To attract sharks we use a natural tuna fish mix. Although the Neptune Islands are a natural feeding ground for great white sharks, we have found that a form of shark attractant is still required. Over our 50 year history, we have tried many things and the natural tuna scent is what gives us the best results. All interaction with the sharks is carried out by our trained crew and a strict code of conduct is adhered to.
Q: Why are great white sharks at the Neptune Islands?+-A:
The Neptune Islands Marine Reserve houses Australia's largest fur seal colony. Several thousand New Zealand fur seals along with a small number of Australian sea lions and many other bird and reptile species call the islands home. And it is the seals that brings the great white sharks to the islands. The sharks do not live at the islands, their presence can be for a few hours to a few weeks at a time. Their appearance is also seasonal and with our research and shark identification we know that the same sharks return to the islands at the same time of year from their vast migrations around Australia. In summer, the seal pups are born and the bull seals arrive to breed. This is the only time of year we see the bull seals, as after breeding they leave the islands for their solo lives. Left behind are the pregnant mums with their newly born seal pups. It is throughout the winter months the seal pups learn to swim in the sheltered shallows around the islands. We often only see specific sharks in summer or winter, very seldom both.
Q: What chance do I have of successfully seeing a great white shark?+-A:The Neptune Islands are home to thousands of long nose fur seals which provide a significant natural feeding source for great white sharks making this location a reliable year round destination to view great white sharks. We understand it’s unreasonable to expect great white sharks to always appear assoon as we drop anchor (though this does sometimes happen) and we also understand there is different weather and shark seasons throughout the year. To better ensure reliable viewing we offer different itineraries for different seasons of the year. Our famous multi-day overnight tours utilise both ocean floorand surface cage dives, giving our expedition members superior diving advantages including the highest success in seeing great white sharks and in achieving quality images and video. We get to enjoy the entire expedition with sunrises and sunsets, as time is spent actually out on location with no wearying daily transfers. In addition to this, while onboard the industry's largest vessel, we carry a maximum of just 12 guests, allowing plenty of un-rushed and un-crowded cage time for everyone. In many months we do enjoy a success rate approaching 100% most years, however some months tend to have more reliable long-term success than others. Please see the Best Time of Year section here for more details.
Q: I can't dive, can I still come onboard and see great white sharks?+-A:
Absolutely! There is no diving experience required for surface cage diving or of course, viewing the sharks topside from the boat. We have qualified dive professionals onboard who look after all our new surface cage diving guests. Our dive crew will ensure you are briefed and comfortable before getting in the cage. Plus, with our small guest numbers, there is no per-determined time that you must get in the cage. Guests can relax, watch the sharks from the surface and then when YOU are ready, we'll get you in the water. Surface cage time is unlimited and we look for all guests on-board to get fair and equal shark time. Our pricing also reflects your activities on-board, so you can join us as a 'topsider' or a 'surface cage' diver. You can even upgrade on-board. Have a chat with the Rodney Fox office team if you have anymore questions.
Q: Do I need to bring my own diving equipment?+-A:
You are very welcome to bring your own diving equipment but all diving needs for diving with the great whites can be hired onboard. This can be ordered at the time of booking.
Q: What do I need to bring on a Rodney Fox Shark Tour?+-A:
For a Great White Night Expedition, this is your what to bring checklist:
□ Warm clothing – Fox Expedition clothing available for purchase on board
□ Comfortable flat shoes
□ Dive certification card (divers must show qualification to participate in the ocean floor cage dive)
□ Dive gear – can be hired onboard, see website for more info
□ BCD if wanting to dive/not snorkel with Australian Sea lions
□ Sunglasses – polarized recommended
□ Batteries – for cameras
□ Sunscreen and hats
□ Personal medical and toiletries
□ Seasickness tablets
What you do not need to bring:
□ Towels for personal use and diving
□ Please do not bring any alcoholic beverages onboard as we have a 'Ship's Bar Only' policy.
□ Food/snacks - Snacks are provided complimentary
□ SCUBA tanks, fins or weight belts