When you go to Cape Town, South Africa more often than not you hear a ton of talk about surfing. Of course when you get on the topic of surfing, sharks always seem to come up. Sharks are one of my biggest fears and since this trip was all about conquering fears and truly living, I figured I’d take head on.
A shuttle came to pick me up directly from my backpackers at 7am. We picked up a couple other people along the way and than began the 2.5hr drive to Gansbaai. Gansbaai is a small town and bay very fixated and focused on Sharks. Cape Town is actually a better place to see sharks, however, because of all the people, boats are not allowed to operate near shore. Gansbaai, is the clostest place to Cape Town where boats are allowed to operate just 30m off shore.
During the 2.5hr drive we stopped at False Bay and one other bay to try and see the last part of the whale migration. On the way we didnt see anything but on the way back we stopped again and saw a mother and her calf playing and leaping from the water in the sunset.
When we arrived at Gansbaai we were given a small breakfast and briefed on what the day would be like. I was in a group of about 15 people. The boat we boarded was 22 ft vessel, which was a little small for all the participants and crew.
Once all on the boat we took a short 15 minute ride out to the location where we would get in the water. Usually it takes 30 min to an hour for Sharks to appear after putting the chum in the water but one was there almost waiting for us. The crew didn’t feed the sharks that approached the boat, which made me feel a little better. the shier size of the Sharks was astonishing. If you look at a Shark in a picture you think “oh…that’s a big fish.” but I assure you that you have no idea how massive they are until you have one right in your face.
The crew called out to us almost immediately that it was time to get in the water.. I quickly jumped in a wet suit, hood and goggles and was one of the first people in the cage. The water was cold, slightly warmer than the water in Oregon but nonetheless cold. With a Shark right next to you in the water, the water temperature is the last thing on your mind. When the crew called out I submerged my head underwater. The water clarity was so bad that you couldn’t see much farther 1 ft in front of the cage. The Shark, a young male, came close enough for me to just barely see him. After 15 minutes I figured out that the viewing was better with my head out of the water because you could see them perfectly when their head would breach the surface. He bumped the cage a couple times which rattled me and the three other I was in the cage with. After another 20 minutes we got out to give others a chance to have the same experience.
Our guide informed us that most of the Sharks that approach the boats are juveniles. Juveniles are much more curious and less picky about what they eat and or approach. I climbed to the top deck of the boat and found a place on the railing above the cage. It was actually much better viewing, although I wouldn’t trade being in the water with a Great White Shark for anything. It was a good show up top, watching the Sharks come up to the surface. The largest Shark we saw actually came half way out of the water and landed on top of the cage knocking one of the buoys off the cage.
We saw a total of 6 Sharks, which according to our guide is usually unheard of. The sizes we saw ranged from 3.5 m to 4.5 m.
I have a new found love for sharks and am not as fearful of them. They are beautiful and powerful animals that deserve the appreciation others get. I cant wait to one day swim with them outside of a cage.
Here is a link to the Trip Advisor page for the company I booked my diving through…
I’m going Great White Shark Cage Diving on the 11 of September!!! Can’t wait. I will be diving with a well known, established company called White Shark Cage Diving and I can’t believe I will get a chance to do this amazing experience! I’ll probably be soooo scared and will probably force myself to do it but its a present from a friend so no matter how I feel… I’M DIVING!!