“There are 2 great white sharks around the boat, ladies and gentlemen“, he said.
One fine afternoon in this beautiful town of Mossel Bay in South Africa’s Garden Route, we decided to dive in a small 6 people cage inside the ocean filled with the Great White sharks ranging up to 5 meters in length.
We’ve both been super fascinated by the giants of the marine world, If you’d look up our YouTube search history, what you’ll see are loads of searches of documentaries about Sharks, their behavioural patterns, whales, different kinds of whales etc. Yes, that’s how fascinating we are about them! When we heard about this activity in South Africa, we simply HAD to do it. Our first choice to do this activity was in this place called Shark Alley in Gansbaai/Gans Bay. Its waters are known to have a good number of Great Whites.
As our luck had it, the day we reached Gansbaai, the activity was cancelled due to bad weather which is apparently not uncommon in this region. You’re always on the mercy of the weather gods since bad weather can screw up every water adventure activity like the shark cage dive, kayaking, whale watching etc because they are all nature oriented. What we realized is that all of these activities can be done in different places along the Garden Route. There are whale watching safaris from Hermanus to Port Elizabeth. We even saw a whale off the coast of Capetown. Thanks to a friend who found these lovely guys who organize shark cage diving in Mossel Bay and we booked it with a company called ‘White Shark Africa’.
They have an amazing system, wherein they take in enquiries and confirm the next morning’s activity after assessing the weather during the previous night by about 9 pm. We reached the office of White Shark Africa at 9 am all geared up with our swimsuits on along with a truckload of guts :)
We took off from Mossel Bay’s port by 9.30 after a quick briefing about the do’s and don’ts. They gave us amazing insights about the Great Whites and what to expect.
The boat sailed for 15-20 minutes closer to a seal island filled with croaking and stinking seals. The Great Whites lurk around this island because their prey is in the vicinity!
How does it work?
A Shark cage diving is a process. They make something called a ‘Chum’ which is some kind of a gross mix of chopped fish and other ocean feed. This chum stinks more than anything you’d possibly imagine. Once we are in the bay, they pour the chum into the ocean that draws these sharks from nearly a mile away. They then prepare the bait. It’s a big tuna’s head attached to a giant fish hook and tied to the boat. As soon as they start seeing the great whites around the boat, they lower the cage into the water. The cage has floaters and is partially submerged, with hand and foot rails inside. The cage has two grills within a 4-inch gap. One is for the sharks and one is for us to hold on to. The outside grill was slightly dented and did look a little banged up. Many a time, sharks get curious and slam right into the cage! We were a teeny tiny bit scared after seeing this.
Adrenaline was coursing through our bodies, we volunteered to go in the first batch of 6 to enter the cage. We went in and they locked us up from the top. It was initially pretty scary and the water was freezing.
The guides were on the boat and guided us to see the sharks depending upon the side it’s coming from. So they’d give instructions like ” From the left, go down“, “Straight ahead, go DOWN” at which point you take a deep breath and push your feet under the bottom rail, holding yourself underwater to watch the sharks approaching. It was HUGE and moved very quickly right next to our cage. At that moment when we saw the GREAT WHITE SHARK so close and personal, all our fears vanished. Everything you ever saw in the movies like Jaws melts away and suddenly you see a beautiful creature that has a natural curiosity. They have the most intelligent eyes and swam about so elegantly.
We saw 5 sharks multiple times post that. Since the water is not the clearest and is murky, you cannot see them till they get much closer to the cage, which feels like they appear out of NOWHERE. Their razor sharp teeth were only inches away from our face and that’s exactly when you realize why they are right at the top of the food chain and known as APEX predators.
Diving in the cage with the Great white shark is an exhilarating experience. You don’t dive with any scuba equipment as the sharks are scared off by the bubbles, and it makes them behave in a way they don’t usually. So it’s just you, a cage and the sharks.
Why should you do SHARK CAGE DIVING?
Sharks are the most misunderstood creatures in the world because of the way media portraits them. Yes, they are in the apex of the food chain but they are at a great risk of extinction. Forty million sharks are killed each year for their fins alone for the famous shark fin soup. The number of sharks in these waters is declining day by day.
Most shark cage diving tours work towards protection of these magnificent creatures by contributing money to research and conservation programs, that frankly wouldn’t get funded otherwise. Why would anyone pay for the extinction of what is portrayed as the deadliest human eating jaws unless it’s a freaking adventure activity?
Shark cage diving with great whites in South Africa is both exciting and educational. We need to protect these incredible ocean creatures before they’re gone forever.
Check out the video from our shark cage diving! 😀
Where can I do shark cage diving?
In South Africa, you can from Capetown to Port Elizabeth, basically the whole garden route.
Alternatively, you can also do a similar activity in New Zealand.
How much does it cost?
Anything in between Rs 7000 to Rs 10,000 in South Africa ( At the time when the article was published)
How do I book?
Head over to White Shark Africa‘s website. Give them a call/book online a day or two before you want to do this activity.