Face to Face with Great White Sharks

Posted on August 7, 2012 by

It was barely daylight when we set off from our apartment in Camps Bay to Gansbaai, a fishing village some two hours away from Cape Town, famous for its dense population of great white sharks. Although sleepy from the early rise, we were fueled by excitement. The moment we had been waiting for the last couple of weeks was about to come.

Into the Blue

After a short briefing at Marine Dynamics, we learned that sharks are really not as lethal as you would imagine. While they may kill between 5 to 15 people a year, we human beings slaughter over 100 million of them over the same period of time.

As soon as we left the port, we were greeted by two whales – a mother and its child. A sign of the phenomenal wildlife that were to come. We sailed over choppy waters and made our way to the famous Shark Alley, a narrow water channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rocks.

Once the boat stopped the action began. Everyone was rushing to get into their wetsuits, both because of the excitement and the chilly wind around us. The sharks did not take long to make an appearance and by the time we put on our suits there were already a few of them circling our boat. Nellie and I got in on the first batch, a decision we later regretted since the sharks seemed to ease up a little and get more active afterwards.

An Underwater Rush

Once inside the cage, I felt a bolt of adrenaline rush shooting right through me. The water was freezing cold and the tidal waves were overwhelming. I could hear the shouts of the crew directing where the sharks were coming from each time the animal swam near us. I struggled to get myself under the water at first, but once under the water I was hooked to the sight of the shark. The look in the sharks’ eyes was haunting. I could literally feel their vigilant eyes scouting their surroundings for the next bite, and I couldn’t help but think that their next bite could easily be myself if not for the iron bars that separate us.

The highlight of the day came when the last group of divers submerged into the icy waters. Towards the end of the dive, one of the biggest sharks around the boat (they were 14 of them swimming around us at one point) breached out of the water in an attempt to catch the bait that the crew were hurdling around. The inertia of its leap made it crush sideways against the cage with such force that I could feel the bang from the top floor of the vessel where I was standing. The abrupt and unexpected interaction with the animal made all the divers scream with excitement while the rest of us could do nothing but stare in awe.

On our way back to shore, the clarity of the water allowed us to admire a couple of whales swimming beneath our boat, accompanying us for just a brief moment, as if to bid farewell and to put a perfect end to an experience that we will never forget.

 

 

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 Cape Town Tourism and Marine Dynamics, but all opinions expressed above are my own. 

About Alberto Molero

Alberto Molero is the co-founder, photographer and designer of WildJunket. With an infectious sense of adventure, he’s fed his adrenaline cravings with scuba-diving trips in Borneo, wildlife jaunts on the Galapagos Islands and hiking expeditions to Iceland and Australia. He constantly dreams of living on the beach and going surfing all day.

17 Responses to “Face to Face with Great White Sharks”

  1. @Destina_terre August 8, 2012 2:41 am #

    OMG!!! I will NEVER try this experience, even if it looks awesome! Too scared!! But the picture of the shark coming up for the bait, wow!! That must have been very cool!

  2. Sunee August 8, 2012 3:03 am #

    There are few things I am more scared of than great white sharks! You guys are braver than most!

  3. Christy August 8, 2012 4:08 am #

    I need to keep my shark fear in check since I spend a lot of time in the water and it took me years to get over watching Jaws! I don't plan to EVER do this. Seeing them in person would probably give me nightmares. I also don't know how I feel about using chumming methods to attract Great Whites. I can see why some people would enjoy it though.

  4. Active Planet Travel August 8, 2012 3:08 pm #

    Wow what an amazing experience! This is one of those things I've longed to do for years now! I couldn't imagine being so close to such a powerful, yet respected animal. It's just a shame more people can't learn to respect them for the beautiful creatures they are…instead they choose to look at them as the horrible monsters society has displayed them to be….Thanks for the write up and wicked pics!

  5. Jeremy Branham August 8, 2012 10:17 pm #

    No thanks. These are great photos but I wouldn't want to get that close. Too many unexplained shark attacks recently. I have a fear of sharks. I want nothing to do with them. I admire and respect them but have no desire to get any closer than what I see in an aquarium or on TV. Speaking of, I think shark week is coming up here in the US!

  6. Debbie August 9, 2012 3:47 am #

    Can't wait until we can try this in September! We have been swimming with sharks in Hawaii, but Great White Sharks will take it to a whole new level of cool! :) Great photos!!

  7. Alberto Molero August 11, 2012 12:24 am #

    Thanks everyone!

    It is truly amazing to see these creatures up close.
    The experience is completely safe for both divers and sharks, I would recommend it to anyone visiting Cape Town!

  8. Ruby August 12, 2012 1:36 am #

    such an amazing experience fro yah..wish to do it one day??

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  11. Jay Daviot March 23, 2013 8:55 am #

    I am doing this in a couple weeks time on the way back from Nambia, I cannot wait! It looks pretty intense though. Watching this video this morning hasn't helped my nerves either!! The shark manages to get in the cage… Eeeek.
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/travel/news/great

  12. Canyoning Wales April 25, 2013 3:32 am #

    Have you seen the videos of accidents happening when in shark cages! I watched an interesting program on the biology of the great white shark, I think it was called something like "Inside natures giants". They are so finely tuned to what they do it gave me a new appreciation for them. I found it really interesting that their teeth are on a sort of 'gum conveyor belt', so that they have new teeth available at all times.

  13. Nicole May 5, 2013 10:07 pm #

    Wow, that looks amazing. Great shots too!

  14. Jeska November 12, 2013 1:23 pm #

    I've dived with galapagos sharks but I haven't gone shark cage diving with great whites yet. This looks crazy but is totally on my list!

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