Looking for an adrenaline packed natural history experience? You should try Great White Shark cage diving if you’re in the Cape Town area. This unique day trip gets you up-close and personal with the magnificent Great White Shark from the safety of a cage.
Great White Sharks
Great White Sharks are found in the coastal waters of California, Baja California, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Management and conservation of this rare and threatened animal have been limited, partly because its migrations and the linkages between populations were poorly understood and difficult to research until the development of sophisticated telemetry instruments. In the early 2000s, tagging with acoustic satellite telemetry transmitters and subsequent tracking of great white sharks off the Western Cape of South Africa in the vicinity of Gansbaai has proven for the first time that these sharks undertake extensive migrations from the waters off Gansbaai, through the open sea to Australia and New Zealand, and back again. This research has shown that great white sharks are seasonal visitors (from June to December) to the Gansbaai area and that they make this transoceanic migration on a regular basis. I did the shark diving in September from Gansbaai, perfect timing for viewing the sharks off of Gansbaai.
For these shark “dives” you’re not actually diving but floating (with wetsuits, masks, and snorkels) in the cage at the water’s surface. Using a specially mixed chum to attract the sharks, you will soon have an opportunity to see them feeding at the surface, near the boat. The cage is then lowered along the side of the boat and you will be able to witness these incredible predators.
The morning was cold and breezy as we boarded our boat for the 5-mile voyage to Dyer Island. The island, together with Geyser Rock nearby, is home to 40,000 Cape Fur Seals, the Great White Shark’s favorite prey, and the channel which runs between the two is known as Shark Alley. This is where we anchored for the dive.
During our boat cruise, the wind abated, and the temperatures steadily rose, making it warmish when we reached the viewing area. Still, few of the 20 or so of us on the excursion were prepared to make the initial plunge so my buddies and I along with two brave Australian women clamored over the edge of the boat into a cage and dropped into the icy waters. The boat crew then tosses a long line with bait attached out into the water. As they quickly retrieved the bait, sharks would swim after it as they pulled the line in front of the cage. I had barely entered the cage, still in shock from the chilling effect of the water when I heard our guide shout, “DIVE!” We dove beneath the surface. Confronted by a gray-murkiness I was disoriented, trying to focus on anything when suddenly all I could see was a mouth agape with huge teeth and snout. BOOM! A great white smacked into the cage right in front of me, so close I could’ve reached out and touched it. I instinctively recoiled against the back of the cage and the boat behind me. Pumped with adrenaline, both at once ecstatic and terrified, I shot to the surface as the shark disappeared and I let out a loud whoop! After a few more shark encounters, we climbed out of the water to warm up in the sun, but went back in the cage again to see more sharks.
I will never forget watching these sharks glide by me, only a few feet away. I highly recommend you seek such an experience at least once in your lifetime!
GrassTrack Safaris can book your shark adventure when you’re in Cape Town. It’s a full day trip, with an earlier departure from your hotel. All diving equipment is supplied and only snorkeling experience is required if you want to go down in the cage. A light lunch is served on the boat as well as refreshments and you will have the chance to see seals and whales in season as well as the sharks.
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