Awesome Dive with Seven Gill Sharks!

Lesley Rochat Photography - Seven Gill Sharks
It’s a beautiful day in False Bay and I’m on Mike’s boat (of Pisces Divers), heading for the seven gill shark dive. I confess I live here but for various reasons I have not done the dive yet. As a shark conservationist it has got to the embarrassing stage: “What, you haven’t dived with them yet and you live here, (and you’re a shark conservationist)!?” Though people don’t say the last part, I know that’s the subtext of their remark.

Lesley Rochat Photography - Seven Gill Sharks
The viz looks good, 10-12 metres, that’s good for False Bay, and the temperature is around 14 degrees. I’ve been spoilt with my international travel and warm water dives, and given my lack of body padding I struggle in this cold water. I decide I should last about 30 minutes before I start turning blue.

Lesley Rochat Photography - Seven Gill Sharks
David Bligh, from East London, who I have just met, is my dive buddy. A backward roll, camera in hand and wow, it’s been a while, I’ve forgotten how beautiful our kelp forests are! I hang for a bit taking in the skinny, long arms of kelp that stretch proudly to the surface, their gentle, swaying hands and long fingers reaching for the sun. One part of the group head left, I look right, it looks like a better option. Soon thereafter my first sighting of a seven gill shark: I take in her dark grey spotted body, pretty eyes, odd dorsal fin so far back, and a tail fin which makes me think a little of a thresher shark. Indeed prehistoric looking. She swims passed me, closely, familiar with divers it would seem.

Lesley Rochat Photography - Seven Gill Sharks
In the distance I see another larger female weaving through the kelp and follow, and then the shadow of another. I estimate maybe 6 different animals on the dive. As always I’m struck by how fragile they are, it could take just one demersal line to wipe this little group out. Though this is a marine reserve, the seven gills don’t stay here and are often killed by fishermen not too far away.

Lesley Rochat Photography - Seven Gill Sharks
I’m consumed by the beauty surrounding me and ignore the biting cold, lasting 46 minutes till I surface. All I can think of is why I haven’t done this sooner, that I’m definitely coming back soon, especially with my strobes working, and how I must get more signatures for the AOCA petition which includes protection for the seven gills.If you’ve read this far please sign the petition which I will be presenting to our fishery department this year and help AOCA to help them, thank you!

Lesley Rochat Photography - Seven Gill Sharks

  1. Adam CarnegieAdam Carnegie08-03-2009

    Dear Lesley,

    I know that feeling diving in those kelp forests – man it get’s cold.
    It seems those seven gills were pleased to see you at last – they’re smiling!
    I’m envious of your getting out there!

    Warm regards,

  2. Scott BrightScott Bright10-06-2009

    Dear Lesly:

    Thank you so much doing what you do for sharks. You know, what I’m amazed at, is when I talk with people when
    I talk with people out and about, most do not know about shark finning!

    What’s amazing to me is how evolved the shark is. It’s been around four hundred million years. And if the human
    population does not act fast, they will be gone in five.

    I would like to encourage everyone to send the video, "Sharks Are In Trouble to your leaders." Together, let’s make
    the shark fin a thing of the past.

    Many thanks Lesly, Scott Bright

  3. Lesley RochatLesley Rochat10-07-2009

    Dear Scott, thank you for your support, greatly appreciated, especially getting Sharks in Deep Trouble to those that can make the decisions to save our sharks. The work you are doing is great, thank you to you too for all you are doing. Kind regards, Lesley

  4. Lukas VacovskyLukas Vacovsky12-30-2009

    Hi Lesley,

    These pics are great! The story and the whole atmosphere are conveyed nicely too. I just returned from the same dive with Pisces and I thought I’d google it to share the experience with my friends. I hope you don’t mind diverting some traffic on to your website… 🙂

    Keep it up and all the best!


  5. cali divercali diver06-04-2010

    sevengills do not face much threat from finning, as they lack a prominant dorsal fin.

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