If you ever saw the movie JAWS you will remember this huge killer shark attacking people left, right and centre and no one could catch it. It was gruesome! Known as a killing machine! Now think of yourself getting into a cage with these spectacular animals and NO not hunting the Great Whites but actually learning more about them and also how we can protect them. The Great White is a protected species as their numbers have dwindled incredibly over the last few decades. People kill them for their JAWS and they also get wiped out due to Shark Finning, a cruel and horrible sight to see. The only problem is that they get killed before they even get a chance to reproduce, resulting in fewer and fewer sharks in our waters.
Well I had the opportunity to go Shark Cage Diving this weekend in Gansbaai with some friends who came to visit me from Australia. The people from White Shark Projects were very helpful on Friday afternoon and with very short notice we were booked on a tour for the following day. Needless to say we were all very excited but also very very nervous to share the waters with these humungous creatures. We were running a bit late due to all the road works and traffic jams but on arrival we were welcomed with friendly smiles and a very nice light lunch. (Which by the way, I don’t think some people should have had). After our briefing by the skipper we boarded our boat and headed for deeper waters close to Dyer Island and Shark alley where they usually anker. When we got to our cage; which were left in the waters from the morning tour there was already a shark swimming around.
It was a bit of a mission getting into our wetsuits, I was really starting to feel the nausea creeping up (well I guess it did not help having a big night the previous night… The waters were quite rough and trying to get into a tight squeeze whilst falling around was a bit of a disaster but soon after we were dressed and ready to climb into our cage. I think that everyone was so nervous and tried to figure our what to do, we were told exactly what to do but if you are in a cage face to face with a Big White all you can think about is not “messing” in your pants!!! Or in the wetsuit for that matter! Oh my, they are enormous. Swimming right next to the cage that you can look into its eyes and even see the scars on their bodies. If you were to stick your hand out you would be able to touch it – not that you want to do that!
We were in the cage for about 20minutes and when we got out the next group went in. I went to sit at the top of the boat where we had a good view of what was going on underneath. You will see this big black shadow and then the next moment it becomes clear and you can make out that this is one big shark. They were mostly very gracious apart from a few who almost rammed the cage against the boat and went off with the bait. Later on there was a small seal pup getting close to the boat. We all knew right then and there that its end was near. With a few sharks lurking around it did not stand a chance, it was not even a minute after taking photo of this poor thing that the shark leapt out of the water and with one bite it was gone! WOW! It was over very very quickly. 🙁
The day went by rather quickly and there were quite a few sharks around, maybe it was because so many guys were sick next to the boat! A few could not stomach the motion of the boat or maybe the smell of the chum. I think the biggest Shark we saw was over 4 meters in length – that is big!!! We had a marine biologist on the boat that was doing some research; they go out daily and record the sightings. They look at the various markings on the sharks, male or female, record their length etc etc. I studied marine biology myself and found this very interesting. I have always wanted the opportunity to get up close to these animals and through White Shark Projects this became a reality.
The day was over quite soon and we returned to the shore with incredible sights – the baby seal still fresh in our minds. On arrival we were served some tea and coffee with snacks and then watched the movie that they recorded for us. It was cool to see some of the highlights of the day.
It was definitely a day to remember and I am sure that my friends will go back to Australia to tell the tale of SURVIVING a white shark experience 🙂