Wolf Rock Diving with Grey Nurse Sharks

Scuba Diving with Grey Nurse Sharks at Wolf Rock Rainbow Beach

Wolf Rock is one of the best dive sites in the world to dive with Grey Nurse Sharks. What makes Wolf Rock Diving a brilliant dive site? Well, the sheer number of Grey Nurse Sharks, for a start. Scuba divers diving Wolf Rock are surrounded by Grey Nurse Sharks and are also likely to encounter Giant Queensland Grouper, Sea Turtles, Leopard Sharks, Wobbegongs, Olive Sea Snakes, and several kinds of rays, including Eagle Rays and Bull Rays.  The majestic Manta Ray is often sighted, gliding past the volcanic pinnacles of Wolf Rock. Oh, and let’s not forget the spectacle of humpback whales breaching in the winter month as they migrate north to warmer waters.

Wolf Rock is the only known gestation site for the critically endangered Grey Nurse Sharks on the Eastern Coast of Australia. Located south of Fraser Island and only 2km from Double Island Point divers will need to travel to the small but pretty Queensland town, Rainbow Beach, known for its massive Carlo Sand Blow, colored sands, and the Wolf Rock Dive Site.  

Wolf rock diving is for advanced or supervised open water divers; the dive can be as deep as 30 meters with strong currents. Wolf Rock Dive Centre runs charters daily, weather dependent. They are a PADI 5-star dive center and an excellent operation. Wolf Rock is the last major outcrop before Fraser Island and the conditions at times can be rough.  Wolf Rock Centre is very aware of diver comfort, with small groups, safety is always a priority. As the last significant outcrop, it is a hub of activity, with schooling fish, Pelagic, and cleaning stations. For the macro lovers, there is plenty to see with Nudibranchs, Mantis Shrimp, Frog Fish, Octopus, and Scorpion Fish. Moray Eels can be found in rocky ledges with the pinnacle walls covered in soft and hard coral, Gorgonian Fans and Sea Stars.  

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A scuba woman at Wolf Rock with Grey Nurse Sharks

Wolf Rock Dive Centre asks – Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? As it turns out – not me.  I am as surprised as any of you. I indeed started off afraid – very afraid – but not for long. Who would have thought I would be voluntarily diving with Grey Nurse Sharks? I can’t even blame my son Joshua for this one. I was nervous about the dive conditions. I was worried about diving in the current. I was nervous about diving at depth. Oh yes, diving with Grey Nurse Sharks was a bit nerve-wracking.

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Wolf Rock Dive, scuba diving with Grey Nurse Sharks, Rainbow Beach

Sharks!! Depth!! Current!! What could possibly go wrong? I am at Rainbow Beach and about to dive Wolf Rock – a cluster of volcanic pinnacles, the only known gestation site on the east coast of Australia for Grey Nurse sharks. Wolf Rock dive conditions can be challenging with depth and strong currents.  I do not know how I will react when I see a shark. I am incredibly nervous. The dive brief is daunting. We will descend down the mooring line to a depth of 30 meters, seeing Wolf Rock before us; we are to release the line and claw our way over the rock; we will then hug Wolf Rock as we observe the sharks.

A senior scuba diver at Wolf Rock with Grey Nurse Sharks

My last deep dive did not end well: a lost weight pocket, panic, exhaustion, and cramp. No sister or son to rely on – I am on my own for my first shark encounter. I voice my concerns to Wolf Rock Dive Centre and anyone else who listens.

We are just within limits weather-wise. Any more knots and the dive would be canceled. It is a thrill to pass Fraser Island (the largest sand island in the world) on our way to dive Wolf Rock. We have a competent skipper as he negotiates a sand bar with minimum discomfort to the divers, though we have a few significant “bumps” on the way. At the briefing, it was recommended we take a seasickness tablet. I believe prevention is better cure and have taken mine; the only person not to do so is having a miserable time. Within forty minutes, we are mooring at Wolf Rock, the pinnacles grandly breaking the surface of the water.

I am questioning my sanity as I slip my arms into my BCD and pull the velcro tight against my stomach. Rocking and lurching, I head to the back of the boat to join my group. In theory, I am doing a giant stride into the water; in reality, the deck awash, I slide off into the turbulent ocean.

A senior scuba diving woman at Wolf Rock, Rainbow Beach

I have bonded with my dive guide, feeling safe in her hands, with a small buddy group; I am surprising myself as I calmly follow the mooring line down. The visibility isn’t great; only 5 – 10 meters. Wolf Rock emerges from the gloomy depths.  I know my fears have been heard when our guide takes my hand, swims across to Wolf Rock with me, and shows me how to traverse the rock. I realize this is a precautionary measure for the days when the current is ripping through; today, it is not an issue. I am feeling relaxed underwater, enjoying the dive, and I haven’t seen a Grey Nurse Shark yet.

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Pregnant Grey Nurse Sharks EMPTY NEST DIVER
Pregnant Grey Nurse Shark

A Grey Nurse Shark next to a scuba diving woman at Wolf Rock

Looking past the reef, I see a dark silhouette in the distance. I strain my eyes to see better before realizing a shark is beside me, and another one and another one. Fluid and sleek in their movements, the sharks appear to be everywhere. Many have full-rounded bellies revealing their pregnancies. Enthralled, my back to Wolf Rock, I am trying to absorb the majesty of all I am witnessing. I have to remind myself of the importance of breathing. Swaying with the current, I am careful not to accidentally float into a shark; they are so close.

Ten’s of Grey Nurse Sharks at Wolf Rock Dive

Grey Nurse Sharks are big – but graceful and unexpectedly peaceful. This dive is glorious; I am overwhelmed with the splendor of Mother Nature.  It is the sheer number of sharks that is amazing. Wherever I look, there are Grey Nurse sharks; – up, down, sideways; I am surrounded by them, reminding me of a Dr. Who episode – Gridlock. Slowly we begin to swim around the Rock. We find two orange frog fish in a shallow depression, though I think they are some form of soft coral.  Returning on our second dive, I appreciate how well they camouflage. It pays to take your time quietly and look at your surroundings; who knows what you will see? As we began our ascent on the mooring line a catch a glimpse of several rays, I could definitely make out Bull Rays, and I was excited to see two Eagle Rays as we counted down time on our safety stop. Unfortunately, no Manta Rays on this trip, though I am assured they are often present.

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Wolf Rock Dive Grey Nurse Sharks EMPTY NEST DIVER
Hanging with sharks

Our surface break is choppy, and I am thankful I took a tablet. Enjoying a delicious lunch, I am eager to return to the water.  Euphoria fills my body as I relive the first dive and compare notes with the other divers. Entranced by the sharks on the first dive, on the second dive, I relish seeing olive sea snakes cheekily swimming under and around us, a leopard shark in a sandy depression, and two octopuses hiding in rocks flashing different colors. So many things I haven’t seen before. I am thrilled to watch the octopus, especially as the sharks swim by leisurely.

I am on a natural high that will last for months.  Everything about the day was fantastic.  We were right on the cusp weather wise, so the conditions were classed as rough, but I didn’t find the surface conditions daunting.  We are dealing with the elements whenever we dive, and Wolf Rock Dive Centre are aware that diver comfort is part of the dive.  I am super impressed with Wolf Rock Dive Centre.  They are first-rate, I could not fault them. It was a fantastic day and I am getting back there as soon time allows.

As I was alone, once the dive group disbanded, I had no one to share the dive with. My son Joshua received a very long descriptive phone call.

Grey Nurse Shark EMPTY NEST DIVER
Grey Nurse Shark at Wolf Rock

Wolf Rock Dive – a dive you can do again and again.

Learning to dive later in life I love it all. I bonded with a group of people I will probably never see again.  I got to witness the magnificence of nature firsthand.  I stretched myself and stepped out of my comfort zone.  In this instance I thrived, other times I learn and come out stronger, wiser and more confident for the experience.

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?  Not me, and I have the t-shirt to prove it!

Thank you, Wolf Rock Dive Centre, for the photos – and four great dives now – I’m coming back for more as soon as I can organize my buddies!

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Published by emptynestdiver

Learning to dive in my fifties has been a great adventure, I am a senior scuba diver but young at heart.

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