Wouter Groenewegen: Scuba diver, underwater photographer, has his first close encounter with a Manx Basking Shark


As you may have heard we, a group of English, Belgian and Dutch divers were very lucky to be able to swim with several basking sharks last Saturday. I even have been able to make some pictures, which is an achievement since I was also very bussy wetting my dive suit.

The first shark I saw was just after the first dive, I let myself into the water from the Castaway boat and waited for things to happen. It’s a very weird experience to know that there are some giants very close to you. I kept on seeing the fin above the water but it didn’t come very close to me and I was not about to give up a chance of a lifetime taking it’s picture by finning behind it. Then the fin came exactly towards me. I saw it coming closer and kept telling myself, ‘this is not JAWS, this is a gentle creature’. When the fin was about 6m from me I saw a huge open mouth coming directly at me. Somehow I was able to keep on taking pictures but I was afraid as well. I got the impression that this beautiful giant didn’t know I was in it’s way. Just before me it dived down one meter and missed me by less than a meter. It was swimming directly under me. I could not make any more pictures of this animal since I thought it would be best to keep me feet in front of me to be able to take a hit from the tail fin. Nothing happened and the giant just swam on.

At this point my breathing was as fast as my heart was pounding and I was shouting beautiful English words to the boat (I really didn’t mean to offend anyone, it was just excitement). I climbed back on the boat and thought that things were over. Then wen we came close to the sound we saw 3 basking sharks roaming the surface. I qiuckly went in again and was again able to make some pictures. One of my friends and 2 of the english divers were also lucky.

It was very amazing how close we came to the sharks (better to sat how close they came to us). I do want to take more pictures and am still shaken by what happened. An unforgetable experience which was also made possible by Gary, the skipper of the Castaway.

Hope you can use my pictures (if you do please mention my name or one of my websites). If you ever need a fool who is willing to swim with these giants and make some pictures please let me know.

Best regards,
Wouter Groenewegen.