tuna cowboys playing with 14ft makos?

Posted: June 20, 2008 in fisheries, general, sharks, tuna
Tags: , , , ,

Only in Australia could you find a profession herding tuna like a cowboy!

If you haven’t yet seen National Geographic’s documentary on ‘Tuna Cowboys’ hunting tuna off the west coast of Australia, then you are definitely missing out. Chasing tuna worth over AU$8 million, 4 rouge divers tackle 30 foot seas and torrential rain in an effort to protect upwards of 4000 budding young tuna alive… and safe from sharks.

By far the most intriguing aspect of the documentary is the visual display of ‘herding’ Bronze Whalers, Mako, and Blue sharks out of the huge tuna nets and back into the open ocean. The immense size of the tuna catches and the fact that the fish are kept alive to mature and double in size, means that the ship fleet cannot move any faster than 1 knot at the risk of crushing the fish against the netting. This allows dozens of sharks to rip their way through the netting or in the whalers case, swim over the top (?) and devour a few little tuna. Ripped straight from the National Geographic website, the following except sums up the documentary perfectly:

Nick Pluker has one of the most dangerous jobs in the world; he is a wild sea-going cowboy who each year heads out into the perilous Southern Ocean to round up his herd – Southern bluefin tuna. The challenge is to muster the fish, defend the lucrative catch from sharks – eager for a taste of the valuable stock – and return safely to the tuna farm on the coast with every single fish alive and unscathed.

Check out this video, and take note of the way the cowboys delicately handle and almost hug these massive 14 foot Mako and Bronze Whalers!

I also found a similar practice here, just off the coast of Italy.

  1. shaun says:

    I would like to do tuna fishin , i have diving exp. love been out at sea.
    But dont know where too look or go about finding a job in that line of work??

    please help me and send some information.


  2. Ben Cashman says:

    No problem Shaun. I have emailed you a few contact details for Dinko’s Tuna fishing fleet.

    Good luck with getting on board, and make sure you fill us in on your travels!

    • Justin says:

      Hey this seems fun and i would like to give it a shot. Do you mind sending me some info on how to get a job doing this.

  3. ekweisman1@hotmail.com says:

    My name is Ellis Weisman, and I am interested in this job. I would love to find out how to go about this. I currently have experience on the open ocean.

  4. Ben Cashman says:

    It is great to see divers keen to take on the open ocean! Watching the documentary is definitely an eye opener..

    I’ve shot a few contacts through to your email Ellis, good luck!

  5. Christopher Gaworecki says:

    Alright Alright… Ben you Seem to be the man… The Golden Tuna Job hook up Man… Besides the fact that it is retarded to swim with killer Sharks, like Darwin awards should be handed out… I also would love to hear some more about the actual Job-vacation Rotations and how plunder is divied out…
    I know how to box and would love to go a round with a dumb shark… Hoooraaahhhhhhh…

    Christopher Ian

  6. Ben Cashman says:

    Ha, I am far from being the man Chris. I have previously contacted a few guys from one of the organisations and had a quick chat with Pluker about his experiences on the open ocean.

    From what I gather, it is extremely difficult to get on board with groups like Dinko’s fishing fleet, as experience is extremely important and hard to come by. I couldn’t fill you in on any specifics about rotations (other than they are generally 3 months in length being out at sea), get in contact with the guys above and see if they have had any luck finding out more information. Ellis may be able to help. Let me know how you go, I am interested to see whether anyone reading this has been out for a season as yet.

  7. will says:

    hi Ben from what i gather you might no off sum work.Ive been diving for 12 years im23 with my padi instructors an 4 years sea experince fishing in nz would be great if i could get the experince of what the cow boys do i wana learn from the best.

  8. Rob Gillies says:

    hi where can i get imfomation about getting some expirence.i have come over from scotland and i am a fisherman and would love to give this a try.
    thanks Rob.

  9. Ben Cashman says:

    Thanks for your posts Will and Rob. I’ve shot off a few details for you to check out.

    • kyri pantazi says:

      Hi Ben i am also interested in doing this type of work but have no experience doing the job role but do dive any contacts would be really appreciated .

      kind regards kyri

  10. james lacrosse says:

    hi Ben-
    Could you send some contacts for a job tuna wrangling?
    Much Thanks

  11. craig says:


    I am a freedive spearo, 15 years experience, son of a trawlerman, got my DM, handy round sharks and big tuna. Living in WA. I’m interested in this work, I know its not as easy as it looks.
    Please send me some details, you seem to be the hook up master for these jobs.

  12. kini Hiko says:

    I am New Zealand maori who has had years of deep sea fishing experience, have currently got my divemasters cert, love 2 dive and love 2 fish.. This sounds and looks like a job id love. I am a hardworker a team player and would love the lifestyle. May i have some information and contact details sent 2 me 2 apply 4 a job please. Thanks…

  13. Joanne Kim says:


    I’m currently working on a huge documentary in Korea and would like some more info on the tuna cowboy Nick Pluker and also Dinko fishing fleet?

    Any contacts or information you have would be awesome!

    Thanks in advance!
    Joanne Kim

  14. Aaron Newton says:

    Hey, I’m one of the divers on the film. Been doing it for 9 years now in Port Lincoln and in Mexico. Currently living in France looking for work on oil rigs. Anyone interested in Tuna diving needs their Commercial diving tickets as it’s work, not recreation. Glad you all enjoyed the film.

    • Monika Olberding says:

      @Aaron Newton
      You are doing this for 9 years? Diving or tuna diving?
      In the film they said, that you are 20 years old. That ist the reason why I’m wondering about the 9 years.

      The film was great and you are doing a very tough job. I really admire you for that!

      I wish you all the best for your live and good luck for everything you’ll do!

    • kyri pantazi says:

      Hi aaron ,how can i go about doing this job mate i only dive and thats just as a hobbie not commercial as stated if i had commercial diving tickets would anyone be interested in taking us on with no experience of the job .

  15. Thomas says:

    Whats up Ben…

    I know you get this allot but unlike these tourists above I am a IMCA commercial diver with a dive medic technician and I am looking for a new offshore contract. I am from South Africa where we dive with sharks that have a little more meat than these pussy makos… point is I do this work regularly and I would be interested in applying for the position to spice up my CV a little.

    If I could please get those contacts from you whenever you get the time.

    Shot man,


    • Ben Cashman says:

      Hey Tom, I’ve shot you a few details, but I don’t know how accurate or if they are still in the business (its been a while since this post)! For everyone else that might read this, do the ring around for Dinko and his fleet.

      • Poppy Rice says:

        Hey Ben, I am wondering about some details as well if you wouldn’t mind. I have Alaskan fishing experience (salmon) as well as lots of diving. I don’t have an IMCA, but I do have an ADC surface air-suppiled card.

        Thx and


      • Ben Cashman says:

        Hey, I am fairly sure the info I have now is out of date. The best thing to do would be for you to google search Dinko and his fleet. I’m sure there would be contact details on there somewhere 🙂

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