The sharks of Rangiroa. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet)
© GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet

Diving among sharks in Polynesia : Rangiroa and Fakarava

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

In 2012, I discovered Rangiroa and its spectacular gathering of sharks. My dream is to go back and dive there as well to Fakarava, another legendary Polynesian spot to observe sharks.

The sharks of Rangiroa

Ah, Rangiroa ! This is the most famous and legendary spot, which fascinates divers from all over the world. One can see a "wall" of sharks, when the current is favourable, at the entrance of the Tiputa pass.

Sharks in Rangiroa ... (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet)
The sharks at Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Philippe Bacchet)

For my first immersion, with the excellent little center Y Aka Diving, in this October 2012I'm lucky: the sharks, mainly reef grays, are there in large numbers, at a depth of about 40 metres. So we're at their level and it's an incredible feeling to be able to play right in the middle of the shoal. You almost feel like a shark among sharks!

The show is both beautiful and ... peaceful. The cattle swim in the current, indifferent to our presence. ????

No autofocus, no photos...

With my heart beating, I point my lens towards a big grey for a first photo... In vain. The autofocus of my camera remained in "manual" mode inside the waterproof box ! Impossible, therefore, to focus. Impossible to make a single image... Rageant! 😡

Frustrated, I still take the time to enjoy this fabulous dive, just with my eyes, before having to run with the rest of the team in the current.

The sharks of Rangiroa. (Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Philippe Bacchet)
Above, the kind of photo I would have dreamed of taking... (Credit : © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Philippe Bacchet)

On my second attempt, the camera works (this time, I checked before launching). Unfortunately, on that day, the shoal is much too deep, in the 60 meters. Impossible for our longline to go down among the sharks this time. We have to look at them from above, about 20 meters away. In fact, the "wall" is more like a "carpet" of sharks...

Otherwise, in Rangiroa, we also have the possibility to dive with the sharks in the open sea, in the blue. Feeding or baiting them is forbidden to avoid disturbing their behaviour, but it is allowed to attract them at a safe distance from the coast by spreading a fish "fumet" in the water. It's quite impressive: I invite you to go back to see the video I posted at the time, with a silky shark quite insistent.

Silky shark and diver. Rangiroa, French Polynesia. October 2012.
Silky shark photographed off Rangiroa. Polynesia, October 2012.

Fakarava, I dream of it!

When I go back to Polynesia, in a future that I hope is not too far away, I will of course put Rangiroa back on the program, but also the atoll of Fakarava, also in the Tuamotu. Its southern pass, Tumakohua, also has its "wall" of sharks.

According to the comments on forums and divers' blogs, the site is just as spectacular as Rangiroa's or even more so, and easier to dive... I'm already dreaming about it! 😍

UPDATE 2018. Arte diffuses aired in June 2018 the documentary 700 sharks in the night by Luc Marescot, on the expedition led by the biologist and underwater photographer Laurent Ballesta at Fakarava.
An exciting film and spectacular images, about the behaviour of these sharks, especially at night, when they hunt. Laurent Ballesta also published a book on this extraordinary adventure.
On YouTube, Arte then posted two 7-minute episodes of 360-degree images shot in Fakarava during Laurent Ballesta's expeditions. I'm giving them to you below (feel free to "move" in the video to enjoy them, it's fascinating): 

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012