PORT LINCOLN, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, Australia — Frigid waters from the coast of South Australia took Marines’ breathe away as they stepped into a underwater cage. Braving cold waters confined in the cage was the least of their worries once they came face to face with a great white shark.
Over 170 U.S. Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin had the rare opportunity to dive with sharks near Neptune Island Marine Park, South Australia, Australia, June 26, 2016.
“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Staff Sgt. Gordon L. Williams, an infantry unit leader with Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, MRF-D. “It was a great experience to see such a massive creature up close.”
Jacinta P. Harders, a Calypso Star Charters Shark Cage Diving hostess, said her favorite part of her job is meeting lots of new people from all around the world.
“It’s been good having [the U.S. Marines] on board,” said Harders. “They’re very polite, have great manners and are pretty enthusiastic.”
The Marines have been engaged in exercises throughout Australia from the Northern Territory all the way down to South Australia. At the closing of Exercise Predator Strike, Marines were able to explore Australia outside of the training areas.
The tours contributed approximately $100,000 to Calypso Star Charters Shark Cage Diving and other businesses around the community.
Marine Corps Community Services helped make it possible for the Marines to have this experience by covering almost half of the costs.
“It gives Marines a chance to get out of that deployment environment and see the world,” said Williams from Homerville, Georgia.
As the last shark dive came to a close, Marines prepared to begin Exercise Hamel, a trilateral training exercise with Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. forces to enhance cooperation, trust, and friendship.
Story by Cpl. Mandaline Hatch