This was one of the reasons that drew me to South Africa: the chance to get close to one of the world’s most intimidating animal, the Great White Shark. Gaansbai, just two hours away from Cape Town, is considered the white shark capital of the world – home to densest population of great white shark in the world. Here, I got the opportunity to get into a cage and enter the shark’s world.
Earlier that morning, our resident marine biologist, Matt, gave us a crash course on sharks. While movies have made sharks appear to be mindless man-eating machines, they are really not as lethal as you would imagine. Sharks may kill between 5 to 15 people a year but we human beings kill over 100million sharks a year. Statistically, we are more likely to get killed by a falling coconut than sharks. Sadly, the number of Great White Sharks is dwindling rapidly, with only about 3,500 white sharks in the ocean today.
Swimming With Sharks
Zipping over the choppy waters towards Shark Alley, we made our way into the open sea from Kleinbaai. The 18 degrees Celsius water felt terribly cold, while choppy waters made the conditions both dramatic and intense. As I dipped my snorkel mask beneath the surface, I immediately caught a glimpse of the 4m-long shark. I could only hear my palpitating heartbeat and bubbling from my rapid breathing. The Great White Shark that swam before me was large, not quite as enormous as I’d imagined, but its presence was definitely intimidating. In the 20 minutes that I was in the cage, I hardly had time to come up for air as I watched one shark after another, circling our cage and sniffing us out as if we were potential lunch. By the end of the day, we saw over seven sharks – with one in particular swimming right at me, the tip of its nose almost touching my fingers and its tail flipping inches from us.
Here’s a video I shot underwater, hope it’ll help bring you along with me, to this exhilarating encounter with the Great White Sharks:
We didn’t have to wait long before a shark made an appearance.
The shark is attracted to our bait (a wooden figure).
Underwater, I see a Great White Shark swimming towards us…
Its agility and speed is astonishing. Within seconds, it’s gone… but it soon returns for more…
A fellow shark cage diver looking happy to have come this close to sharks.
Note: To make sure we do not interfere or disturb the sharks’ natural habitat, Marine Dynamics assures that on its shark cage diving trips, sharks are not harassed, abused or fed. Boatmen use chumming method (fish oil) to catch the sharks’ attention but they do not disturb the animals’ natural behavior.
Disclaimer: This shark cage diving experience was made possible by South Africa Tourism, Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Marine Dynamics, but all opinions expressed above are my own. Read more about my South Africa adventures here or follow my updates on facebook.