September 20, 2010

Honeymoon: Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai

POST #    3075

One of the main reasons we added South Africa was because of the great white sharks that swim in the country's waters. I've been fascinated with sharks since I was a kid — probably because of the Jaws movies. While the movies portray the great white shark as a terrifying creature, I was always interested in seeing them (as well as other sharks) up close. Not where a shark is taking a piece of my leg, but close enough to observe.

Our time in South Africa provided us with this opportunity and it was one of the highlights of our honeymoon. Shannan even says that it was her favorite part. We were originally scheduled to go white shark cage diving with the White Shark Diving Company the day after our arrival in Cape Town, but the waters were too rough to venture out. Thankfully, the water on the second day was "calm" enough for our adventure.

After an early-morning pickup (before 6 AM) at our hotel, we were transported about two hours to Gansbaai (Bay of Geese) where we would be viewing the sharks. Following breakfast and an orientation ("we've never had accident while using this cage"), we were off to find the great white shark. The White Shark Diving Company provided us with all the gear we would need for the cold water (it's still winter there), including wet suits. They didn't provide any sea-sickness pills though, which is something that I should have purchased before going.

Once we set out and found the spot that we would anchor, the crew of our boat, "The White Shark," started to add chum to the water (crushed tuna/skipjack or sardines). The smell was pretty awful, but similar to Chinatown in NYC on a summer day. Sure enough, the sharks arrived shortly. In groups of 6 people (I think it was 6), we made our way into the cage to view the sharks from the water. The crew would yell "down!" whenever a shark was close, occasionally adding a direction to look once we were underwater. We did this several times. On occasion, we saw more than one shark once submerged.

The most frightening part of our time in the water was when a smaller shark managed to get its head caught in the cage between me and Shannan. The shark was lured in by a fish on a rope and as it went for the fish, the shark managed to lodge itself in the cage. The shark seemed to be stuck for minutes, but it was more likely just a few seconds. Another group had a white shark land it's front quarter on top of the cage.

All told, we saw eight sharks, the largest one at 3.5 meters (11.5 feet). I think I came out of the experience a little more scared (at least of snorkeling in the trip), and missing my breakfast. But it was an awesome experience and I'm very happy that we were able to do it.

Posted by tien mao in Photos, South Africa, Travel at 6:50 PM



i was about to say, the landscapes are pretty and all, but WHERE ARE THE SHARKS?! this is awesome.

Posted by: sgoralnick at September 20, 2010 7:05 PM

Insane!! You guys are so lucky AND brave.

Posted by: Jen at September 20, 2010 9:00 PM

great shark tale, did you loose your lunch before or after or during?

Posted by: neil at September 22, 2010 4:19 PM

I think your gonna need a bigger boat...

Nice pics and a great story!!!!

Posted by: zippy at September 23, 2010 9:58 PM

SO would love to do that (in theory, at least). Awesome that you did.

What are they luring the shark with? Is that the chum holder? Or is that a big chunk of meat on a rope?

Posted by: Rion at October 12, 2010 9:08 PM

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