‘Wow, that’s a lot of teeth’: Perth photographer Jacqui McGhie captures an amazing underwater world
“I was thinking to myself...wow, that’s a lot of teeth.”
Growing up landlocked in Goomalling in WA’s Wheatbelt, one of the last things Perth photographer Jacqui McGhie thought she’d end up doing was looking straight up at the underneath of a two-metre nurse shark.
But that’s exactly what she found herself doing - close-up and awestruck - on a recent diving trip to Nurse’s Quarters off Rottnest.
“The most we’d seen previously there was seven at a time but this time we counted at least 17 and to be able to get as close to them as we did, was amazing,” Ms McGhie said.
“It was just myself and my boyfriend out there…when you’re in a bigger group there can be a lot of noise and bubbles and you can scare them off but we just kept calm and they went about what they were doing.
“Some of them were 2.5 to 3 metres and others were little tiddlers. A couple were pregnant, which you could see from their bellies but they didn’t seem worried about us at all. We were totally rapt.”
Nurse’s Quarters and the neighbouring Opera House are noted “hot spots” for nurse sharks but it seems fair to suggest that Goomalling is an unlikely starting point for a developing career in underwater photography.
But after moving to Perth in her teens, Ms McGhie fell in love with the ocean. She got her dive master’s certificate several years ago and now divides her year between working on a boat during the Kimberley tourist season and diving around the State - from Rotto to Exmouth to Ningaloo and Albany, often on shipwreck sites.
Despite the amount of time she spends in the water, she says she hasn’t ever felt threatened by a shark.
“You’re not in fear of nurse sharks because they’re not known to be aggressive. As far as I’m aware nobody has ever been attacked by one,” she said.
“But I’ve never seen another shark that had me worried either. I’ve probably been lucky with that but at the same time, we’re only diving and looking around. We’re not doing things like spearfishing, which could potentially attract sharks.”
Ms McGhie’s foray into photography started with simple point and click work but has grown to include some stunning moving pictures, including the use of drones.
The shark vision is eyecatching but her body of work includes everything from manta rays to beach scenes, spiders, dragonflies, quokkas, storms, seals, stars, cuttlefish and sunsets.
To see more of Jacqueline McGhie’s photography, visit her Facebook page.