Tim, Ainsley, Jill and I took the CARE tour for shark diving today and it was absolutely amazing. We left Cape Town around 9am and arrived at Gansbaai at noon. We had a short debriefing and then boarded the boat!
Surprisingly, our boat ride was only about 10 – 15 minutes and we anchored near a large growth of kelp. After 30 – 45 minutes of agonizing waiting our first shark appeared. I was so surprised that a great white shark was swimming around our boat that a string of cuss words came pouring out of my mouth. Tim thought this was hilarious!
After waiting a few more minutes for the shark to get comfortable (a shark can hear a human heart beat from 220m away) Tim and I suited up for the first cage. The cage easily fits 8 people. The crew quickly pulled my wet suit up, threw weights around my waist, goggles around my head, and pushed me into the water. The first few minutes were quite unnerving because my feet kept floating out of the cage and I could hardly breathe with my mask. Once I’d finally got the hang of it I heard the captain yell, “down down!” I pushed my head under water and a 3.5m great white swam right in front of the cage, about 3 feet away. At points I literally could have reached out and touched one. I’m not going to lie, it crossed my mind for .5 seconds that I could touch ones tail but I didn’t. Tim and I got out of the cage to let another group take a turn and Tim immediately ran to the other side of the boat to be sick. All in all Tim’s seasickness was more frightening than the sharks but he still had an amazing time and would do it again!
We each ended up seeing more than 30 passes (when the shark would pass by the cage) and 7 different sharks. It was an amazing experience and definitely worth it! While I do have mixed feelings about luring sharks over by chumming the water and the use of bait I am glad I did it because it truly is a once in a lifetime kind of thing. My suggestions for anyone interested in going: take Dramamine and a change of clothes, and if you aren’t fully committed to going, remember that it really isn’t that scary and the sharks are only focused on the bait and not the cage!
Laura E Rogers – Ikhayalethemba Volunteer