Where do I even start? With jealousy, probably!
Here’s the episode:
Cam’s pictures and videos (and his own words in the podcast) are worth more than anything I can say here, so I’d rather simply note these are all from Moreton Bay, and throw in a few things I think are worth noting along the way.
Swimming with humpacks
Right. Now I have to have a Nanna-No-Joy moment, because for whatever reason, in today’s day and age, we have to literally say “don’t try this at home” for every photo that looks cool. Maybe social media does a really bad job at portraying the hours of time and effort that go into getting to a place where decisions are good decisions?
Any case, PLEASE look at this page, which tells you about the rules for watching marine mammals in Queensland.
Humpbacks are massive animals, ranging from 25-30 metric tonnes. Their peduncle muscle (the long muscle where the flank meets the fluke, or tail) is one of the largest muscle in the animal kingdom. A slap from a humpback’s tail can kill an orca instantly.
GETTING TOO CLOSE TO ONE IS A RISK.
I don’t know the circumstances for Cam’s footage, but I can tell you I’ve dived at Flinders Reef in winter and know that humpbacks are everywhere and very close. I very much doubt that any diver around Moreton Bay wouldn’t hear them and know they’re around.
As the Eastern Australian population of humpbacks has recovered to around 30,000, and animals are returning to within the bay now, encounters like this for divers and snorkellers, are going to happen more and more often. If we’re going to be in the water, we’re going to have encounters.
That goes for sharks too.
One of the earlier guests on the MBOP, Daryl McPhee, talked about sharks being the new dolphin – they’re “charismatic” animals that inspire awe and interest.
Many times, divers will go to a place in the hope they’ll see a particular species. But for the non-diver, or for the diver/snorkeller who’s on other business, seeing a shark can be accompanied with a rush of adrenaline, or shock, or even fear.
For Cam, and other spearfishers and freedivers, though, the presence of sharks is one part of an entire experience that by its very nature requires you to be aware, alert, fully present. Even without the sharks, you’re doing something where a loss of awareness can lead to bad, bad outcomes.
Mindfulness, flow, the “zone”
Freediving is spending long times under the water without tanks.
I’m not a freediver, but I’ve met a fair few of them now. I’ve often noticed there’s something about them that sets them a bit apart, and at some point it occurred to me that the freediving “state” they talk about sounds a bit like what other sports call “the zone” – it’s a full concentration combined with true calm. It’s very similar to what we call “mindfulness” nowadays, actually.
No surprise, freediving sites are filled with references to this – meditation, mindfulness, “flow” – if you haven’t been exposed to these concepts you might think they’re an escape of the mind. Nothing could be further from the truth – mindfulness and flow are very much linked to full awareness of the here-and-now.
Take a look at some of Cam’s videos to see why developing such a state might be valuable:
Spearfishing freedivers have many such encounters – and yet Cam corrected me when I suggested there was adrenaline involved in these encounters. Adrenaline is not the key reason or ingredient of spearfishing or freediving – it’s awareness.
Enough from me. Enjoy the rest of these, try to breathe, and follow Cam on Insta for more.