JAPANESE SHARK DIVING SAFARI
Japanese Shark Safari in a Nutshell:
Considering that Super-Typhoon Trami swept
through Honshu the day before our Japanese Shark Safari was
scheduled to start, I think the trip went rather well :)
We dove on all five days of the trip and
enjoyed shark dives on four out of five days. Only once were
the shark dives cancelled and even then we rebooked at a
sheltered site where our guests were able to get in a couple
of macro dives.
As often seems to happen, we got lucky!
First Stop Chiba
After a quick meet and greet in Tokyo, we
drove down to Chiba and settled into our hotel. It was a
windy drive but the seas were predicted to flatten out over
night so I wasnèt too concerned about the next days shark
Sure enough we awoke to flat conditions and
drove to the dive shop.
Visibility was not great but the sharks were
waiting and we got our first taste of Japanese endemic
The best visibility I have
seen in Japan!
Our second day of diving went from good to
great! By the end of the day the visibility was phenomenal
and we made the most of the excellent conditions and
The shark feed is attended by hundreds of
Banded Houndsharks. Although this species is also present
along the coast of Korea and China, this is the only place
where divers stand a chance of encountering one.
This is largely due to the patience of the dive shop owner
who spent five years encouraging these timid sharks to come
closer and closer until they were completely habituated to
the presence of divers.
The other elasmobranch species that we always
see in abundance are red stingrays. Hundreds of these large
rays congregate in the area to gobble up any scraps that the
houndsharks fail to notice.
Japanese Horn Shark
Also known as Japanese bullhead sharks, these
reef dwellers live close to the area where the shark feeds
take place so we were able to go visit them and snap a few
Second Stop Izu.
After three days in Chiba we relocated to the
town of Shimoda at the southern tip of the Izu Peninsula. It
was a beautiful drive over the mountains but upon arrival in
Shimoda we were disappointed to learn that the next dayès
diving had been cancelled due to dangerous swells around
Mikomoto Island; our intended spot for shark diving.
Undaunted, we drove over to the protected
west coast of the peninsula and enjoyed two macro dives
outside Tago Bay.
I was not really prepared for macro
photography so my images leave a bit to be desired but here
is pretty little anemone shrimp to give you an idea of what
On our other dive in Tago we dove to 30m to
hunt for deepwater anthias; beautiful little reef fishes
that usully live beyond recreational diving limits but come
shallower in this one particular spot.
Snow Monkeys or Sea
On the way back to Shimoda, we stopped at a
beach where Japanese Macaques congregate to eat algae and
More commonly seen in the mountains where
they are referred to as Snow Monkeys, these mischievous
primates were a nice addition to the trip so we will
definitely visit them again in future years.
Shark Diving Mikomoto
The local dive shop for Mikomoto Island told
us that they expected the swells to die off over night so we
prepped for a final day of shark diving.
Unfortunately, it was still bumpy close to
shore so we couldnt search for Japanese wobbegong sharks but
we were about to dive with schooling scalloped hammerheads.
We saw a school of around thirty hammerheads
and a few grey reef sharks but try as I might, I could not
get close enough to the hammers for good images. Proof of
life will have to do!
Back to Tokyo
That night we celebrated a successful trip
and packed for an early morning drive back to Tokyo. Upon
arrival we wished fairwell to some of the guests but most
stayed on for our Giant Salamander Expedition; a mini
snorkelling trip in the Gifu mountains that went extremely
well but more about that in the next trip report.
All in all it was a really fun trip that we are looking
forward to repeating next year. Join us in 2019 for our next:
Japanese Shark Diving Safari