disclaimer: i did not take the photo above. but i could have – that was literally my view one morning in may in south africa!
the number one thing we regret about our trip around the world (and we are very happy that there are very few things on that list!) is that we forgot to charge our gopro (underwater) camera the night before we went cage diving with great white sharks. we even had an extra battery! and they both were dead :( we were and are pretty sad (and mad at ourselves) about it because our experience with the sharks was so, so, so incredible and we want to share and remember! but…certainly the image captured in my brain of huge shark jaws literally four inches away from my face is unforgettable, so i’ve got that! :)
i googled “great white shark cage diving in gansbaai south africa” and lifted some pictures from my search to help me share and remember this wild adventure the boy and i took. when we were planning out trip, i almost insisted that ian go cage diving without me, not necessarily because i was super scared but because it just didn’t seem like a fun thing to do to me, and not worth the money. but he convinced me to go with him, and i am so glad. it was seriously, seriously cool.
we got up early that morning and headed to the harbor at gansbaai. the ocean in that area is famous as being a popular area for great white sharks to hang out in, due to the high population of seals, i.e. high density of yummy food for great whites. we had a safety debriefing and then headed out on the boat.
we passed an island with literally tens of thousands of seals hanging out on it. we could definitely see then why the sharks liked this place so much…!
once we put anchor down, the crew started to try to attract the sharks to come by our boat. they “chum the waters” with some fish guts, and sharks, with their incredible sense of smell, follow the scent. we waited quite a while for sharks to show up, and i kept thinking about how i was going to go into the cage in the water with them! the cage is attached to the boat, and 8 people were to go inside at once. the anticipation was thick!
eventually this guy came by. it was so much more amazing to see that huge animal swim by than i had expected.
but that shark wasn’t very interested in our boat after all and disappeared pretty quickly. the crew decided to move to a different spot and start again, and we were glad because we ended up having nine different sharks repeatedly circle the boat, one of which was nearly twenty feet long!
once the sharks started showing some genuine interest in our boat, people started getting in the cage and the sharks started following the tuna head lure that the captain threw out into the water. we watched from the top deck of the boat and then were in the third or fourth group to get in – and it all happened so quickly once our wetsuits were on! the crew pulled masks onto our faces and pulled the hood of our wetsuits over our heads and then told us to hop in! the captain stood on the side of the boat, throwing out a lure and watching the sharks carefully. when one approached the cage, he would call out to us to go under and tell us which way to look. “down, down, down! down left! down left!” we held onto the bar, held our breath and watched in awe (and yes, a little bit of terror).
and that ^^ is pretty much what we saw! several times the sharks ran right into the cage, and we would brace ourselves as far back as possible in the cage! there was no way for them to get anything through the bars, and for the most part we were just amazed rather than worried. but it was such a crazy experience! we were literally face-to-face with great white sharks in the wild. it was almost tempting to reach out and touch them! but we were careful to keep all limbs inside the cage!
we got to go into the cage twice, and as time went on the sharks got more and more active. they began to jump out of the water, which i didn’t even realize great white sharks could do! at that point, it was pretty much equally exciting to be in the cage and to watch the action from the top deck of the boat. ian snapped some great pictures while i gasped and squealed.
^^ getting in and out of the cage was a little disconcerting, not knowing if the sharks would make a move even without the lure! or maybe we’d slip and fall in the water?! but our adrenaline was pumping and we came and went. ^^
^^ we also saw this huge manta ray. i know this is kind of a terrible picture, but it was cool to see other sea life, too! ^^
^^ and this and the next few pictures feature the back of the videographer’s head very nicely! :) ^^
this was such an incredible experience for us. we loved every second. we were totally amazed by these magnificent creatures and felt so lucky to be able to get up close and personal with them! and it was just all such an intense thrill. this was ian’s highlight of the entire trip, and i liked it way more than i thought i would.
we drove back up to cape town to the airport directly from getting off the boat at gansbaai harbor. the drive was (again) so so stunning. we couldn’t stop talking about how cool our cage diving experience was. also, we were really sad to say goodbye to cape town and africa’s southern coast! this is one place we definitely want to go back to one day.
next stop: dubai!