If you’ve ever wondered where the annual grey reef shark conference is, well, here’s your answer. Every year on the full moon of July, hundreds of sharks gather off of the island of Fakarava in French Polynesia, specifically in the south passage, a phenomenon that has been named the “Wall of Sharks.”
This area is one of the largest shark sanctuaries in the world, so it’s typical that you’d find a larger amount of this particular sea predator than you normally would in other places. However, on this single day of July, the usual number of about 250 sharks could shoot to a radical 900 all at one time.
So, what causes this astronomical change?
Well, this narrow passage where the open sea meets a lagoon is particularly full of sea life, enticing sharks to partake of plankton, fish, and more. However, it’s on the full moon of July that thousands of marbled groupers arrive to mate; in fact, it was while researching the aggregation of these groupers that biologists first discovered the gathering of grey reef sharks.
The groupers spawn over 20,000, providing the sharks a celebratory feast!
The pass is relatively quite small in comparison to this amount of sea life in it at once. In fact, “when diving inside, you can see both sides of the channel,” says shark researcher Dr. Johann Mourier. And, so, we have the nickname “Wall of Sharks.”
Since it’s discovery, this site has become a favorite spot for courageous divers from all over the world. Top Dive hosts guided dives around French Polynesia year-round as well as during the short “Wall of Sharks” timeframe. The southern pass is a site to see all throughout the year – a “veritable undersea Garden of Eden,” according to Top Dive.
“Diving with 900 sharks?!” you might be thinking. And considering what sharks are rumored to be, it’s right to be alarmed. However, underwater photographer Lauren Ballesta assures divers that they are generally safe as sharks see humans as “obstacles not prey.”
Don’t base all your beliefs about sharks off of movies like Jaws. Sharks are vital to our ecosystem and are in need of our protection.
Whether or not your ready to dive in and enjoy a swim with these sharks, this phenomenon is simply incredible, one of the thrilling moments nature gives us to enjoy.