Shark cage diving has to be one of the most educational experiences I’ve ever had. I recently enjoyed the privilege of viewing these majestic creatures up close and personal. I was astounded by their grace, size and nature to the extent that I’d say you haven’t lived yet until you’ve been shark cage diving. The concept of chumming and shark cage diving is somewhat controversial but needn’t be. If executed by professionals such as White Shark EcoVentures, one leaves the experience enthralled by great white sharks and educated in terms of their habits, habitat and the shark cage diving experience. Its true when they say that fear is because of the unknown. It is the same for great white sharks, the more you understand about them the less fearful you are of them. Having arrived with a sense of misunderstanding the great white sharks I left feeling respectful and almost in reverence of these predators.
Climbing into the cage surrounded by these predators is breath-taking. While the great white sharks are feeding around the cage their tails may occasionally brush the cage. It is a myth the great whites will attack the cage. Sharks are curious (especially the younger ones) and they may come close to the cage to view the divers. I experienced real adrenaline as this happened whilst I was positioned in the very far right of the cage right next to the bait line, but I never felt threatened because the shark cage diving experience was so well controlled.
The shark viewing cage is situated next to the side of the shark cage diving boat and once ready to take the dive the Dive Master assists the shark cage divers into the opening at the top of the cage. Once in position, the divers head would be no more than half a meter below the surface. Divers are easily able to rise to the surface and communicate with the Dive Master at any given time. Shark cage divers secure themselves by holding onto the cross bars, at the top of the cage.
Shark cage diving takes place quickly and effectively via a rotational system with only 5 to 6 divers down at a time. Once the rotation is completed it will be repeated, ensuring that each diver enjoys as many shark dives as possible. Time spent in the cage depends on weather, water conditions, shark activity and eagerness of each diver.
By nature, Great White Sharks are surface feeders therefore ensuring spectacular surface action often taking place too close for comfort! Surface viewers are spoilt in the when using the specially designed observation platform, with camera’s close at hand.
From the boat, shark viewers are able to photograph their friends who are shark cage diving and at the same time follow the sharks as they move around the boat and cage. Careful not to miss out on good photographs, breaching usually takes place in the high season and if you are not 100% ready, you may miss out on a good picture!
White Shark Ecoventures has been established since 1992 (when shark cage diving was unknown at Dyer Island), White Shark Ecoventures became one of the first companies to offer shark viewing / diving tours in the channel at Dyer Island. The company has gone from strength to strength and today is better known as the most experienced and long standing operator in the field.
The White Shark Ecoventure tours are not only highly educational but they also actively participate in documenting valuable research information about great white sharks, which is forwarded to Marine & Coastal Management Research and various Marine Biologists world-wide. I am amazed to see that White Shark Ecoventures were the founders of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, a body dedicated to the protection and preservation of the great white shark globally.
Their crew consists of; SATOUR registered specialized tour guides; Dive Masters; Level 3 Medics; Qualified shark handlers and PDP licensed drivers. Their skippers are licensed with ICASA (Independent Commission Authority of South Africa), as well as SAMSA (South African Maritime and Safety Authority.
Just as the Great White is known for its greatness, I am grateful for having had the opportunity to spend time shark cage diving, experiencing their environment but most of all learning about them. I feel as though I have a better understanding of these magnificent predators and definitely less fear.
Clients can book their shark cage diving experience via http://www.celestialgifts.co.za
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Written and prepared for by Odette Butcher, Chief Experience Officer