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Interview with a... Great White!

SOUTH AFRICA | Wednesday, 15 January 2014 | Views [236] | Comments [1]

With Amy’s birthday out of the way it was time to pack and head for Cape Town for my shark diving trip. I caught my flight from Lanseria to Cape Town on Tuesday afternoon and then grabbed a shuttle to my hotel which was a whole 400m from the airport. Hotel Verde is very aptly named. The entire hotel has been structured around green initiatives and energy saving systems. In spite of this, as airport hotels go, I found it to be a very good place to stay with a very helpful and friendly staff. The food in the restaurant was very good and the rooms were fabulous.

My first night here I didn’t get much chance to do anything other than eat and sleep as my pickup for Gansbaai was at 4:30 the following morning. The drive to Gansbaai was about 2 hours but our driver managed to do it in around 1 ½ which made for a very interesting trip, especially coming through the mountains when the driver seemed to be fighting the steering wheel the whole way. Still, we managed to arrive in one piece and, having already had a packed breakfast from the hotel en-route, I settled down to enjoy second breakfast prior to our trip briefing.

The company I was taking my excursion with was called Marine Dynamics and I had chosen them because, after a great deal of reading on the subject, they seemed to be the best equipped outfit in the area. Certainly their website (http://www.sharkwatchsa.com/en/home/) left all the others far behind and, aside from being the only unit with a custom built boat, they do a lot more conservation and research work with/for the sharks than any of the other shark diving groups around.

Having enjoyed second breakfast and sat through the pre-trip briefing it was time to head for the boat. As we left the building we were issued with a life jacket and a waterproof and then headed to the harbour. Once on board it was “all please remain seated” for the 20 minute trip out to the dive spot where the cage was dropped and secured to the boat. Remaining seated was vitally important as the skipper didn’t want to lose anyone overboard when he opened up the engines. (Having 1000hp available, this boat could shift!)

So what can I say about cage diving with the Great Whites. We’d been warned in advance that sharks could not be guaranteed, that they had no control over the water visibility or temperature and that the last few days had seen very little shark activity. That aside, today was the day the luck changed. Visibility was described as good, 2 ½ meters. Water temperature was just over 15 degrees, also good and sharks we had in abundance. During the day we were privileged to be joined by 12 different great whites, the largest being a fine specimen of some 4.3m in length. (We also had a very inquisitive stingray hovering around for a lot of the trip, but let’s be honest, we were there for sharks!)

You actually tend to get a much better view of the sharks out of the cage from the boat, especially on the top or viewing deck but the actual experience of being inside the cage when one of these Lords of the Seas passes within a couple of meters of you is an amazing experience. The speed and grace with which they move through the water has to be seen to be believed and I’m pretty sure that, if you weren’t too busy holding it, it would take your breath away every time! I was very lucky and got two goes in the cage during the morning and had some very exciting moments watching the sharks come past. I also used an underwater camera but until I get it developed I have no idea what, if anything, I managed to capture on film. Luckily I got some reasonable shots from on the boat which will be going up in a gallery on here so hopefully they will be enough should my attempt at underwater photography come to naught!

After we were done the cage was ditched, attached to a marker buoy, ready for the afternoon trip to collect and re-attach it. For us it was back to harbour, back to base and soup and drinks followed by an opportunity to watch the video of the trip taken by Marine Dynamics own videographer. As I’d booked online I got a complimentary copy of the video. Least ways I will have as soon as I get enough bandwidth to down load it to my PC.

Finally it was back onto the mini bus for the trip back to Cape Town where I then proceeded to collapse in my hotel room and sleep the rest of the afternoon away. 



you weren't tempted to hum jaws :)

  wanda Jan 28, 2014 6:36 AM

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