Swim with Tuna at Victor Harbour, South Australia
We have all probably heard of or even experienced swimming with dolphins in a marine-themed park, whale sharks perhaps in Ningaloo, caged shark diving in South Africa or even swim with jellyfish in Palau. But swim with tuna? Now that’s new. This is Oceanic Victor, the latest marine-themed attraction at Victor Harbour, South Australia. The facility is located within a Habitat Protection Zone of the Encounter Marine Park. The facility opened to the public on 2nd September 2017.
Oceanic Victor is an Australian privately owned company established by Mick Dyer and his wife, Yasmin and their business partner and friend, Tony Santic, with the objective of giving others the opportunity to experience and understand the diverse marine environment that we lived in. They also hoped the attraction will serve as a platform for highlighting South Australia’s strengths as a source of eco-friendly and sustainable quality seafood for the world.
Our visit to the Oceanic Victor
We were fortunate to visit the Oceanic Victor on a quiet mid-week afternoon and had the entire place to ourselves. The attraction is accessed after a less than 5min boat ride from Granite Island. The main attraction is a single modified 45m-diameter seacage moored to the seabed. Visitors have the chance to swim with and feed Southern Bluefin Tuna or observe up close via an underwater viewing deck. The sea cage contains up to five tonnes of the magnicient fish.
The Oceanic Victor Off-shore Enclosure (viewed from Granite Island)
The seacage is located about 200m off Granite Island, making accessibility quick and easy.
In the water with the tuna
We were suited up with a 5mm neoprene wetsuit for the swim. Chris, the experienced crew was in the water to ease our “introduction” to the amazing tuna. Non-swimmers geared with additional buoyant float need just pull themselves along the rope further out to be closer to the action.
You can try feeding the tuna by holding onto a sardine. The sensation of a tuna whizzing by as it chomped up the sardine is certainly an adrenaline rush. It’s fascinating how swift and accurate the tuna are in snatching the sardines.
A tuna homing for its meal. This picture was a screen grab from an underwater video played in slow motion. Otherwise, it would have been an almost impossible task to shoot such footage. Southern Bluefin Tuna are among the fastest fish in the ocean. They’ve been clocked at up to 76 km/h!
Tuna Feeding Session
Tuna were fed with South Australian caught pilchards (or commonly known as sardines). About 150kg of sardines are fed to the tuna daily.
Feeding the tuna by hand-holding the sardines promised to be an even more unforgettable experience. Your finger will smell a little fishy after the session but it’s totally worth it.
For those wary that the tuna might bite their fingers instead of the sardine, a feeding stick would be a safe option.
The colonies of seagulls at the seacage muscling in for some of the sardines. Crew Fernando offered one of the birds before wrapping up the feeding session.
The Oceanic Victor underwater observatory caters to those who prefer to stay dry or for young children. The best moment is during feeding time as you can observe tuna swooping in to gobble up the sardines.
Up close and still dry. The underwater viewing deck is like a National Geographic documentary played right in front of you. The weed at the viewing windows are cleaned weekly but it grows really fast, according to Fernando, one of the crew.
The Oceanic Victor Visitor Deck
The deck of the Ocean Victor. Ample seating and well designed for a great session which typically lasts 2 hours.
A couple of touch-tank aquarium with some marine life for visitors getting a tactile experience. Ideal especially for young children.
Well-organised swimming gears holding pen. Worthy of the world-class attraction accolade.
Equipment and accessories are stored and presented neatly for a pleasurable event.
The shower point. Ocean-friendly wash detergents are provided for the quick shower. But the water is not heated and can be chilly in cold season. However, I like the “ice-water” shower. It really perks me up after the swim. Towels are available for rent for those who forget theirs.
The Friendly Crew
The Oceanic Victor friendly crew (L-R) – Fernando, Peter and Chris, certainly enhanced the enjoyment of the session. When there more guests, more staff will be on hand to ensure everyone gets well taken care of.
Horse tram ride to Granite Island
Side note – Travel tip to Granite Island – you might like to go the Horse Drawn Tram ride that starts from Victor Harbour. This is the only horse-drawn tramway in Australia and one of the few services to run throughout the year worldwide.
The tram travels across the 630m causeway throughout the day on scheduled timetable. About 100,000 visitors enjoy this experience annually and it has served more than 2 million passengers since 1986. More details of the ride can be referred here.
The Oceanic Victor’s provides an exciting opportunity for those who otherwise may never have a chance to experience the fascinating Southern Bluefin Tuna at close quarters. Unless you are a certified scuba diver, where else in the world could you come up close with these magnificent fish? I hope this blog will encourage travellers to South Australia to visit this amazing activity and plan a swim with the tuna., which should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Footnote: All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and Jetabout Holidays and all rights reserved. The opinion expressed is factual, objective and that of the author. The visit to the Oceanic Victor is not a sponsored event.