Saturday, 22 September 2012

Shark Cage Diving in Mossel Bay, South Africa

Shark Diving in Mossel Bay

There are many places to shark dive along the coast in the Western Cape but we decided on White Shark Africa in the end, didn't hurt that Louis knew the brother of the owner who pretty much started the shark diving craze.

With the usual beatuiful weather associated with the Cape, we got on board the boat with the rest of the group and headed out to open water in the general direction of Seal Island, some 15 minutes away.

Once there, we dropped anchor and the guides started throwing the sardine chum over the side and prepared the cage, lashing it to the side of the boat, and from there it was just a waiting game for the sharks to arrive.

Hopefully this boat will suffice
Putting the cage in
Seal's where the seals live

With it being the ocean you can't guarantee the presence of a Great White immediately; sometimes one could turn up after five minutes, other times, such as our case, they can take their sweet time about making it to the boat. Two hours to be precise.

Now, with the excitement of getting in the cage and seeing the sharks in their natural element, the wait shouldn't have been too difficult. However, there was a serious swell and the wine from the previous day was threatening to spoil things for me so I decided to just get in the cage and wait in the water. Much better than being on the boat.

After quite some time I was a little worried there would be no action at all until suddenly the other people on the boat shouted "SHARK RIGHT". Only myself and another guy were in the cage at the time and we got a great view as the bait, a tuna head, was chased down by the shark which came to within a metre or so of the cage.

They tried again with the bait but the shark didn't seem interested and so the guide reeled the bait in. I wasn't looking in that direction at the time but as the bait reached the wall of the cage the Great White smashed right into the side of the cage, all teeth and foam with those hollow black eyes. Needless to say I was taken unawares and may have screamed like a girl as I tried to take a photo which ended up just been a load of bubbles as I fell backwards into the water.

At this stage, everyone else who wanted to get in the cage jumped right in and for the next hour or so we were inundated with great shark viewing; loads of attacking of the bait and one time the shark was trying to rip it off the rope and pulled so tight that it was under the cage and trapping the lid down so no one could actually get out if they even wanted to.

Another episode was when the shark literally wouldn't let go and was on it back wrestling with the tuna bait and halfway out the water at one stage with it's tail fin smashing against the cage. Each time that happened, coupled with the swell, the whole cage was almost underwater at times.

Show that tuna head who's boss

Looking for something a little bigger perhaps?
Thrashing about

Not interested in little fish

Seeing it in the flesh was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. Although I tried to take as many photos and videos as possible, you just can't imagine the power and ferocity of these sharks until they're right their in your grill.  If you've ever considered it, you have to do it.

This shark, swallow you whole.
After some time it started getting a bit nippy in the water. Even with 5mm wetsuits on, 15 degree water soon becomes a tad unbearable. However, even with teeth chattering I didn't want to move and by the time we had to head back to shore, a couple more Great Whites had come to join the fun and were circling the boat.

Back on land I felt a little more steady and after a platter of meat and fish I soon felt right as rain and ready for the drive back to Cape Town where my next flight was from.

I wish I had more time here in South Africa but unfortunately after a whirlwind tour of the major places I wanted to visit it was time to move on. Slight deviation from my inital plan (which will now need modifying) as now heading back home for a couple months for some R&R, yes I know, all this travelling is very taxing. However, just to keep me occupied I will definately be going away on some city breaks to break up  the monotony of the daily grind.

Next stop, Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire.

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