SAND TIGER / GREY NURSE / RAGGIE SHARK WEEK ON PROTEA BANKS

Spend a whole week, Sunday, August 12 to Saturday, August 18 on Protea Banks – South Africa diving with your favourite shark, the Sand tiger Shark.

Spend 5 full days doing two days, the first and last day, spent doing a combination “baited” / a 1-tank deep reef Sand tiger or Grey Nurse or “Raggie” Shark dive, followed by three days doing two 2-tanks deep Sand Tiger or Grey Nurse or “Raggie” Shark dives per day, weather permitting, on the world famous Shark Diving destination of Protea Banks in KwaZulu/Natal – South Africa.

History has it that you have a 95% chance of encountering your favourite shark, the Sand Tiger or Grey Nurse Shark, or Raggie as its locally referred to, when diving on Protea Banks in August.

When are you most likely to see Sand Tiger / Grey Nurse / Raggies on Protea Banks

Please note: Sand Tiger or Grey Nurse or “Raggie” Sharks have not read this timetable, and as a result, they have no idea where they are supposed to be, and when.

Please also note: All reef dives on Protea Banks are restricted to advanced divers only. This rule is strictly adhered to due to the depth of the dives, in excess of 30 meters, and the strong currents that are often present on Protea’s deep reefs.

The Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie” Carcharias taurus
Spend a week with Dive The Big 5 diving with this magnificent Shark on Protea Banks, KwaZulu/Natal – South Africa.

The Sand Tiger or Ragged-Tooth Shark is a fierce looking shark and is often referred to as “a cow with teeth” which accurately illustrated this fearsome looking creature. Many Sand Tigers (originally called “Sand Sharks”) have been killed by spear fishermen as “trophies” or caught for display in aquariums. They are also targeted by fisheries because the time and location of large mating aggregations can be easily predicted. Reproduction in this species is better understood than in many others and the Sand Tiger readily adapts to captivity and will breed in a suitable size tank / aquarium. Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” are unusual for several reasons. There are reports of them hunting cooperatively, surrounding and corralling their prey before feeding. They also have a unique ability to swallow air and hold it in their stomachs to maintain near-neutral buoyancy. This works like a swim bladder in bony fishes and enables them to hover motionless, despite being denser than water. Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” are a minimal to moderate risk to divers. When provoked, they are normally inoffensive and unaggressive, but has been known to attack under duress. Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” are seasonal and predictable visitors to Aliwal Shoal and to Protea Banks, hence the 95% success rate of encountering this Shark on both Aliwal and Protea. Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” are viviparous and pups practice uterine cannibalism and the female gives birth to 1-2 live pups. Their diet consists mainly of bony and cartilaginous fishes, squid and crustaceans.

Daily Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” Week Itinerary:

Day 01.

Sunday, August 12, 2018:
Arrive King Shaka International Airport – Durban (DUR), own arrangements. On arrival, you will be met by Dive The Big 5 for the 160 km / 2-hour road transfer from King Shaka International Airport to Shelly Beach, on the KwaZulu/Natal south coast. On arrival in Shelly Beach, before going onto your accommodation establishment, Breakerview, you will go past Aqua Planets 5 Star PADI Dive Centre to meet Kym and her crew who will host your diving, and introduce you to your sharks of choice, for the next 5 days diving, and to choose and select any tanks, weights, air and any other dive gear you may require. Kym and Co will also tell you at what time you must meet Aqua Planet at the Sonny Evans Small Craft Harbour for the following days dive. The Sonny Evans Small Craft Harbour is 40 meters from Breakerview. After the introductions and gear selection, you will continue on to Breakerview, which is a few kilometers from Aqua Planet’s dive shop. Breakerview is also situated within easy and safe walking distance of Shelly Centre, which is a large Mall housing supermarkets, banks, fast food outlets, and liquor stores, where you can purchase necessities, plus loads of restaurants and pubs, and a movie house complex. Rest of the evening free. Overnight at Breakerview on a bed only basis.
www.breakerview.co.za

Included:

“Meet & Greet” at King Shaka International Airport – Durban
Road transfer from King Shaka International Airport – Durban to Breakerview – Shelly Beach
Accommodation

Excluded:

Domestic and international air
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Bar
Items of a personal nature
Gratuities

Day 02.

Monday, August 13, 2018:
At a time advised the previous day, when you stopped by Aqua Planet, you will walk the 40 meters from Breakerview to AquaPlanets kit-up area in the car park at the Sonny Evans Small Craft Harbour. The Aqua Planet’s crew will meet you there with all your gear, ready to go diving!
Your first days diving on Protea Banks is scheduled for a “baited” Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” as the first dive of the day, followed by a deep, Protea Reef Dive, weather permitting, as the second dive. Please note that all Protea reef dives are deep dives, in excess of 30-meters, and are restricted to advanced divers only. We say “scheduled” because weather conditions may force the skipper and DM to change the order in which we do baited shark dives and the deep reef dives on Protea.
The modus operandi on Protea Banks for a “Baited Shark Dive” is:-
After meeting the Aqua Planet dive crew, at a time confirmed the previous day, in the parking lot in the Sony Evans small craft harbour, which is also the base for the local NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute), you will kit-up and have the pre-dive briefing. Your dive gear will be stowed on-board by Aqua Planets crew, and the 4×4 pick-up (bakkie) will reverse the dive-boat as close to the water as possible. Everyone then assist the Aqua Planet crew launch the dive boats, which are either a 7.5 meter “duck,” or a 8 meter “duck or RIB, or semi-inflatable, nose first, into the surf. On the skipper’s instruction, the ladies board first, after which the men clamber into the “Duck”, placing themselves opposite their gear, which has been stowed down the centre of the “Duck.” You then quickly put on your lifejackets, place your feet in the foot-straps, and off you go……… The launch itself is an exciting experience, and is likened to “white water rafting in a wetsuit”. After punching your way through the pounding surf, on reaching the calmer waters, the skipper pauses to see that all is ok, before you continue on to the dive site. On arrival at the dive site, we start chumming to attract the sharks with the Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” being the “Target” species, and put out a buoy with the bait, which is contained in a “shark friendly” round “camo” drum with holes in it, so that the “smell” and oil from the sardines in the “drum” permeates into the water. When the first sharks appear, the DM assesses the situation, and if he is of the opinion that the sharks are going to stay around awhile, and that they are not aggressive, the divers may enter the water. You either view the action from the “safety” of the boat, or, for non-certified divers, on snorkel; you float on the surface of the ocean and watch the action as it unfolds, 5 meters below you. The certified divers, already kitted up, descend to about 10 meters, to the depth of the camo drum, and follow the action from there. This is a drift dive, as the boat, chum, and bait, is drifting with the wind and surface current, as are the divers at 10 meters below. In addition to the Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s,” which is your “target” species, you can also expect to encounter the odd Bull Shark and Blacktip Reef Shark as these two species of shark are commonly encountered on Protea Banks all year round.
After the “baited” dive we return to the Sonny Evans Small craft Harbour, swop tanks, and immediately re-launch the boat for the second scheduled dive of the day, a deep Protea Reef dive. To have breakfast in between the baited shark dive and the deep reef dive is impractical, and time consuming, as the wind picks up rather quickly as the morning wears on. It is advised to have breakfast, consisting of 2 fried, or scrambled eggs, a pork sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes, fried onions, two slices of toast with tea / coffee at the Shelly Beach Ski-boat Club, after both dives have been completed. The cost of this breakfast is included in the total cost of the Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” Shark week itinerary.

raggie shark diving

There is no SIT required between the first baited shark dive and the second deep Protea reef dive as a “baited shark dive” is not a deep dive, more like a 10-meter “bounce” dive at most!
The modus operandi for a deep Protea Reef Dive is:-
Once over the dive site, the skipper cuts the motors and the divers, as well as the DM, kit up, on the boat. This is a fully guided reef dive with the DM leading the dive. Once every diver has kitted up the Skipper repositions the boat over the reef, and on the DM’s signal, all the divers do a backward roll, simultaneously, into the water. All Aqua Planet’s Dive Masters, who have dived Protea for years, have mastered the art of safe diving on Protea. The DM first descends to 5 meters and waits at 5 meters until all the divers on the boat get down to him/her. Once all the divers are at 5 meters, the group descends together, to the bottom, which is at about 30 meters. Those divers that are heavy breathers are buddie paired off, so that when they get low on air, they surface together as a pair. The “target” species for this deep Protea Reef dive is the Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s,” and history has it that you stand a 95% chance of encountering Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” on both the “baited” dive and on the reef dive. Although, historically we say you have a 95% chance of encountering your “target” species, the Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” shark, we are dealing with Mother Nature, so there are no guarantees. After the Protea Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” Reef dive, you will return to the Sonny Evans Small-craft Harbour where the boat is winched out of the water. All your dive gear will be taken back to Aqua Planets dive shop to be washed down, rinsed, and dried for the following days diving. The rest of the afternoon / evening is free. Local places of interest include, Pure Venom Reptile Park, Crags View Wild Care Centre, the Margate Art Museum, Uvongo River Nature Reserve, Oribi Gorge, which is a 20 km drive from Shelly Beach, The Wild Coast Casino, which is nearby, a coffee farm in the neighboring town of Ramsgate. If you are a golfer…… lots of top-class golf courses in the vicinity, surfing, fishing etc. etc. The folk at Aqua Planet and Bruce & Belinda, your hosts at Breakerview, will be happy to point you in the right direction. Any additional dives and local touring would be for your own account. Overnight at Breakerview on a bed only basis.
www.breakerview.co.za
Breakerview is a self-catering Guesthouse, situated 40-meters from Sonny Evans Small-craft Harbour, 40-meters from Shelly Beach itself, which is a beautiful bathing beach, and has a magnificent tidal sea-water pool. Breakerview consists of 6 en-suite, air-conditioned, fully equipped, daily serviced, self-catering rooms. Two are 2-sleeper rooms. Two are 4-sleeper rooms, all sea-facing. Plus one, non-sea facing, 4-sleeper room. Ideal for a group of 10 divers sharing, but can accommodate 16 divers at a push. It has a beautiful pool, and braai (barbeque) facilities. The supermarket, 10-minutes’ walk, where fresh produce, and meat, for the evening “braai” can be purchased. A number of liquor stores are also close by, for beer and for where those well-known South African wines can be purchased. Shelly Beach Ski-boat Club, where you will have breakfast daily, also has the club bar where you can meet the locals, and an a la carte restaurant which is open for breakfasts and lunches from 08h30 till 15h30 daily, at ridiculously cheap prices.

Included:
Breakfast at the Shelly Beach Ski-boat Club, consisting of a hot English breakfast of 2 fried, or scrambled eggs, a pork sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes, fried onions, two slices of toast, and tea / coffee;
Hire of tanks, weights, and air, or full equipment hire, depending on the dive package required
Services of a qualified dive master to lead all dives
1 x baited Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” dive followed by a guided Protea deep reef dive with the Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” being the target species, weather and Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” permitting
Accommodation at Breakerview on a bed only basis.

Excluded:
Gear hire, other than tanks, weights, & air, depending on the package
Additional dives, touring & entry fees
Lunch, Dinner, Bar
Items of a personal nature
Gratuities

Day’s 03, 04, & 05.

Tuesday August 14, Wednesday August 15, & Thursday August 16, 2018:
This is a 2-tank dive requiring about an hour SIT (Surface Interval Time.) This SIT could be spent at sea, on the dive boat, in between the 1st and 2nd dives, or the boat could return to shore. This is about a 30 minute boat ride, where you swop tanks, have a quick breakfast at the ski-boat club, (included) before re-launching the boat for the return 30-minute boat ride back over the dive site for your 2nd deep Protea Banks Sand Tiger / Raggie dive. The decision of whether to spend SIT on the boat, between the 1st and 2nd dive, or to return to shore for breakfast, will be taken by the skipper and DM depending on the weather outlook.
Three full days spent doing 2 x deep Protea Banks Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” Shark Dives, weather permitting.
At a time as advised the previous day, you will walk the short distance from Breakerview to the Aqua Planet kit-up area in the Sonny Evans car park. After launching the boat and the 20 to 30 minute boat ride out to Protea Banks reefs, and once over the dive site, the skipper cuts the motors and the divers, as well as the DM, kit up on the boat. This is a fully guided reef dive with the Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’s” being the “target” species with the DM leading the dive. Once every diver has kitted up the Skipper repositions the boat over the reef, and on the DM’s signal, all the divers do a backward roll, simultaneously, into the water. The Dive Masters, who have dived Protea for years, have mastered the art of safe diving on Protea. The DM first descends to 5 meters and waits at 5 meters until all the divers on the boat get down to him/her. Once all the divers are at 5 meters, the group descends together, to the bottom, which is at about 30 meters. Those divers that are heavy breathers are buddie paired off, so that when they get low on air, they surface together as a pair. After the Protea Reef Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie’” dive, you will return to the Sonny Evans Small-craft Harbour where the boat is winched out of the water. All your dive gear will be taken back to Aqua Planets dive shop to be washed down, rinsed, and dried for the following days diving. The rest of the afternoon / evening is free. Overnight at Breakerview on a bed only basis.

Included:
Breakfast at the Shelly Beach Ski-boat Club, consisting of a hot English breakfast of 2 fried, or scrambled eggs, a pork sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes, fried onions, two slices of toast, and tea / coffee
Hire of tanks, weights, and air, or full equipment hire, depending on the dive package required
Services of a qualified dive master to lead all dives
2 x guided Protea deep reef dive, weather permitting
Accommodation at Breakerview on a bed only basis.

Excluded:
Gear hire, other than tanks, weights, & air, depending on the package
Additional dives, touring & entry fees
Lunch, dinner, bar
Items of a personal nature
Gratuities.

Day’s 06.

Friday, August 17, 2018:
Your last combination “Baited” Sand Tiger / Grey Nurse Shark / Raggie dive, followed by a deep Protea Sand Tiger / Grey Nurse Shark / “Raggie” dive, weather permitting. SIT, which is not long , between the 1st and 2nd dive could be spent on the boat, or the Skipper and DM could decide to return to shore for breakfast, and re-launch, after breakfast for the 2nd deep Protea dive with the Sand Tigers / Grey Nurse / “Raggie” Sharks. After the two dives and breakfast, you will have the rest of the afternoon / evening free. Overnight at Breakerview on a bed only basis.

Included:
Breakfast at the Shelly Beach Ski-boat Club, consisting of a hot English breakfast of 2 fried, or scrambled eggs, a pork sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes, fried onions, two slices of toast, and tea / coffee
Hire of tanks, weights, and air, or full equipment hire, depending on the dive package required
Services of a qualified dive master to lead all Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie” dives
1 x baited Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie” dive followed by a guided Protea deep Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie” reef dive, weather permitting
Accommodation at Breakerview on a bed only basis

Excluded:
Gear hire, other than tanks, weights, & air, depending on the package
Additional dives, touring & entry fees
Lunch, dinner, bar
Items of a personal nature
Gratuities.

Day’s 07.

Saturday, August 18, 2018:
After breakfast at the Shelly Beach Ski-boat Club, at a time to be advised depending on your outward flight departure time, you will be collected from Breakerview by Dive The Big 5 for your 160 km / 2 hour return road transfer to King Shaka International Airport – Durban. End of services.

Included:

Breakfast at the Shelly Beach Ski-boat Club, consisting of a hot English breakfast of 2 fried, or scrambled eggs, a pork sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes, fried onions, two slices of toast, and tea / coffee
Return road transfer from Breakerview in Shelly Beach to King Shaka International Airport – Durban.

Excluded:
Lunch, dinner, bar
Additional touring
Accommodation
Onward flight out of King Shaka International Airport – Durban
Items of a personal nature
Gratuities

Cost based on two divers sharing:

ZAR 17 210 per diver sharing.
Including tanks, weights and air only
ZAR 19 160 per diver sharing.
Including full equipment hire.

Single supplement:

ZAR 1 950 per single diver.

Please be advised that when diving anywhere in South Africa don’t expect to do more than 2 dives a day. By noon, along the entire east coast of southern Africa, the wind tends to pick up quite a bit, causing white caps on the ocean and making diving conditions difficult and even dangerous. As all dives are drift dives, it’s very difficult for the skipper of the “Rubber Duck” to spot the surface marker buoy in rough conditions, and even more difficult to spot individual divers as they surface after their dive.

Expected water temperatures on Protea Banks during Sand Tiger Shark or Grey Nurse Shark or “Raggie” Shark Week in August.

Between 18 to 22°C