Last Updated on February 12, 2022
Cage Diving with Great White Sharks is on the bucket list of every adrenaline junkie. We were so thrilled with cage diving with black tip sharks in Hawaii, that we knew we had to update our list to go diving with Great White Sharks next. It is a complete thrill being able to view sharks in their home and is a great way to make memories that last a lifetime.
What do you first think of when there is mention of a Great White Shark?
A fearsome creature ready to attack its next innocent surfer?
Or is it the image of the dorsal fin protruding out of the water, or the sounds of the Jaws “dun dun, dun dun, dun dun ...” ringing in your ears?
Though all the above thoughts crossed our minds, we were still excited to get into the water with Great White Sharks. Our wake-up call was rather early (2 am) to have time to travel from Cape Town to Shark Alley, Gansbaai in time to be on the water for optimal conditions.
The early rising time did not much matter — how much sleep do you think we were able to get the night before with all the excitement running through our blood?
Let us take you through the thrilling bucket list experience of cage diving with sharks:
Gansbaai, South Africa
Known as the great white shark capital of the world, Gansbaai, South Africa is a popular location to view sharks because of the large populations that live off the coast. Over 100 species are in the waters of South Africa when there are 400 species known worldwide. Running between Dyer Island and the neighboring Geyser Rock is a channel of the ocean so frequented by great white sharks that it has become known as ‘Shark Alley’. The sharks are attracted to the island seal colony.
There are an impressive eight licensed dive operators offering shark viewing charters. Even during the low season for viewing great whites (September to April), Gansbaai still boasts a very high success rate of shark sightings during that period. This makes Gansbaai a fantastic choice for this mind-blowing experience.
Before we took off to on the water we were given a very detailed introduction of what we can expect. while taking part in our adventure as we nibbled on snacks that were provided. They were VERY strict about keeping your limbs well inside the cage and this was monitored closely. Any attempt to go against this rule and you would be pulled out of the cage for good with your shark viewing opportunity lost. This professional approach went a long way to settling the nerves of those ready to climb aboard.
To view the sharks, you descend into the water in a cage. You are goggles and a snorkel so you are able to breathe underwater. Guests take turns in a floating cage to witness these incredible apex predators. From the cage, you have a front-row view of the power and beauty of these magnificent creatures. It is incredible!
The cage is secured no more than two metres below the surface, so it is also not mandatory to have a diving certification. Anyone can experience this thrill.
Some were hesitant about getting in the cage (one lady absolutely refused). They soon were awe-struck when their feet were once again firmly on the boat deck.
The sightings do not stop after your time in the cage. When you are between turns, you can enjoy the sightings of the great white sharks and other sea life from the boat deck. Sharks are surface feeders, so feeding activity takes place close to the surface.
Once we were set up in position, the staff began chumming. Within seconds fish were splashing near the surface trying to get some of the food. It’s this noise, together with the fish scent that attracts the sharks.
At first, it was a little frustrating. It did not seem like any sharks would be making their rounds. After a bit of a wait — it happened! The first four hopped into the cage and were treated with some of the best views of the trip. We silently waited impatiently for our turn; we were in the second dive group. It felt surreal seeing the sharks come to the surface. The sharks would attempt to devour the fish heads, while the shark experts tried to pull the heads in as fast as they could.
Many people argue that the feeding of sharks is unnatural and breaks their regular behavioral patterns. This is why the crew of shark experts try their best to not let the sharks get the bait. They do not want the sharks to depend on it as a source of food. If a shark gets the fish heads, it worked hard for it and was well deserved.
The sharks did not attack the bait with the over-aggressive approach we expected. The sharks only seemed to make a single attempt each time, before swimming away momentarily and resurfacing for another try.
Misconceptions About Great White Sharks
- Great White Sharks Are Man-Eating Monsters: Great White Sharks are really only responsible for, on average, five to ten attacks a year. A lot of the brutality of sharks comes from what we have seen them portrayed as. It has been said from studies that it seems that Great White Sharks do not seek out human prey and that there is some evidence they dislike the taste.
- Great White Sharks Are All Alike: Every shark has differences about it, and like other animals, seem to have different personalities too. They each have a variety of markings and pigmentations on their bodies.
- Great White Shark Attacks Are Fatal: Most attacks are not fatal. Most times, the sharks are gathering information through touch. It is said that they “sample bite” and then release the victim when they realize it is not what they thought or want.
We learned a lot after being in the cage with sharks swimming around us, going after the bait. We found that sharks exude power and grace rather than instilling fear.
Cage diving allows you to have the experience of a lifetime. You get up close and personal view of such amazing and misunderstood creatures. You will walk away with the realization that these magnificent creatures should be more respected than feared.
Shark diving is now a major attraction for South Africa. Tour operators adhere to strict guidelines, and responsible diving with great whites will allow for firsthand learning, encourage a better understanding and awareness, and help work towards achieving some protective status.
Finishing Off The Experience
Once the dives were complete there was a unanimous consensus that the dive had met everyone’s expectations. We headed back to land and the Shark & Safari (Sharklady Adventures) offices. We were greeted with more food as we watched our shark video. It was great to have a chance to unwind before being driven back to our hotel. We are all so exhausted that we all passed out in the van on the way back to Cape Town.
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Would you cage dive with sharks?