Shannon Myer thinks she has found the best job in the world – an Underwater photographer on the Great Barrier Reef
Looking for a new post-covid career? Shannon Myer has found her dream job, and some might say the best job in the world!
Shannon Myer believes she has one of the best jobs in the world. Read on as we chat with Shannon and explore a day in the life of this underwater photographer who works with children and animals (something we are told never to do) to capture perfect days and perfect moments on the Great Barrier Reef.
This young adventurer works for locally owned Cairns company Down Under Cruise and Dive on board the superyacht “Evolution”. Her job is the capture those magic moments for first time visitors to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. We caught up with her on one of those rare days that she is on dry land to get to know more about her experience working in the dive tourism industry as an underwater photographer.
Shannon there are over 1,500 species of marine animals that live on the Great Barrier Reef. So, what is your favourite?
“The Green Sea Turtle, definitely! I always feel a great connection with them. The turtles spend time with you, they let you hang with them, so you can learn more and more about them. I believe the marine life feel and react to our energy, and I always try to make eye contact and stay relaxed around them. The turtles usually respond to this approach but it’s also important to read their behaviour and know when to leave them alone.”
“I believe the Marine life feel and react to our energy”.
How do you find first time visitors to the Great Barrier Reef respond to all those fish?
“Many of our guest have never been in an ocean environment, let alone tried snorkelling or diving before. My number one job is to make them feel as safe and relaxed as possible. I tell them that if they are relaxed in the water, the marine life will come to them. Making our guests feel relaxed is a big part of the job so that they get the best opportunity to see and interact with these amazing creatures.”
What advice would you give to scuba divers who are looking to have an up close and personal experience with a sea turtle or other marine creatures?
“Just do what I do and look for their favourite hot spots. There are cleaning stations on the reef where the larger animals can pull in to get a scrub and a clean from the smaller cleaning wrasse fish. I also know where there is algae growing in abundance which is the turtle’s favourite food and where they are most likely to be”.
Shannon is grateful that Down Under Cruise and Dive is operational again. During lockdown last year, there were two “colleagues” that she missed the most. “They are Wally our Maori Wrasse and Snappy, a very curious and loving Green Sea Turtle. Throughout the day as I am diving and taking photos of our guests, these beautiful creatures seek me out and help me frame the perfect images, sometimes posing it for the camera.”
We see that the Maori Wrasse has reached celebrity status, posing it up for the camera and appearing on social feeds everywhere. What is the story with your Wrasse?
“Our Maori Wrasse, Wally is a really big fish of possibly 12 Kgs and 80cms in length. He was originally quite sick when he first came to our site on the reef and was non-responsive. His eyes were white, he had fin rot (a common disease that causes rotting or fraying of a fish’s fins or tail) and he was not eating food. But he did always come over and wanted to be around you.”
“Then after a short time after being close to us he would go to the cleaning station, where the little fish would go to work on him, cleaning his eye and his fin rot and helping him to recover. The reef is an amazing place. So interconnected, with everything co-existing in a perfect balance. The good thing is you can go to the same reef location for years, but it is always different. Every day I see and learn something new.”
“One time I remember having both a Green and the very rare Hawksbill Sea Turtle swim over to me and they actually climbed on top of me, trying to eat my hair and having a great time. It’s these moments that I live for.”
You can find Shannon working more days on the reef now that visitor numbers a slowly returning to the Tropical North, working together again with her “colleagues” Wally and Snappy.
About Down Under Cruise and Dive
Down Under Cruise and Dive is an advanced Eco-Tourism Accredited operator based in Cairns in Tropical North Queensland. The company offers a premium, high value day tour to the outer Great Barrier Reef zone with the broadest possible appeal for a diverse range of visitor. Accessibility is at the heart of everything that is offered, from the design of their luxury superyacht “Evolution” to the extra care and customer service provided to ensure comfort and safety. Guests enjoy 5 hours reef time visiting two stunning reef sites; enjoy time to enjoy up to 3 Introductory or Certified dives. Heli-Scenic flight packages are also available operated by Nautilus Aviation.
Evolution Superyacht moored at North Hastings reef on the outer Great Barrier Reef.
Shannon’s photography equipment of choice includes a Nikon d7500 with a Tokina Fisheye 11-17 lens and a strobe Iron light z2330. All wrapped in a Nauticam Housing.
Click here for Scuba Diver ANZ issue 32