shark cage diving

Shark Cage Diving for all!

Great White Shark Cage Diving facts...

There’s so much controversy about Great White Shark cage diving and even more “misinformation” going around, but we can assure you until you’ve actually done it, you’ll never understand…

People go to see caged animals for fun, all around the world. In some cases, seeing animals in a zoo is as close as most people get to experience a wild animal at all. Yes, there are many people who believe shark cage diving to be the lead cause of rising shark attacks worldwide, but this is not true! Many marine biologists have tried and failed to link the act of attracting sharks with chum, fish oils, or fake seals to shark attacks on humans.

It does not really alter the shark’s behavioural patterns in the slightest. A shark’s memory span is said to be no more than 6 minutes. The sound of a boat's motor or the sound of a cage entering the water is not associated by the shark as a “free meal.”

Shark cage diving is exactly that – humans causing a feeding frenzy by chumming the water, putting out a piece of fish (no mammal is used as bait) to attract the shark to the boat, and venturing into shark territory, in a cage, to observe them in their natural environment. We’re not trying to captivate them, which would be more detrimental to their well-being as sharks, especially The Great White, can’t survive in captivity.

Click on this link to read more about the research that has been done in this regard...

A Great White Shark cage diving experience - as portrayed by a Dive The Big 5 client:

When I finally decided to go shark cage diving with Dive the Big 5, I was petrified… The visions going through my mind were mostly that of horror. Convinced that the sharks were going to try and wreck the cage to get to the human flesh inside. I remember reconsidering my decision a few times on way to the spot where the boat would set anchor.

In general, I consider myself to be an adrenaline junky, partaking in many activities that entail a certain amount of backbone to accomplish, like paragliding, sky-diving, bungee jumping, water skiing etc. While I was struggling for half an hour to squeeze my relatively slim body into a wetsuit, wriggling around on deck like a seal trying to climb into a rubber glove, with Jaws playing over and over in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help thinking…

"What if this is the last time I’ll see the sun???"

The other divers were all chatting and laughing away - like jumping into shark-infested waters is an everyday occurrence for them. Yes, I know, there’s a cage, but these are wild beasts and some Great White sharks can just about swallow me whole, not to mention obliterate the little piece of bait teasingly plunged into the water to attract them to the cage…

When the skipper slowed down near the spot where we were to go shark cage diving, my legs went numb and I felt like jelly in a wetsuit. I’m still not sure whether it was due to a lack of blood flow to my legs from the tight wetsuit I finally managed to contort myself into, but as the motor fell silent, I felt my blood freeze in my veins.

Petrified and excited at the same time, I followed the instructions on how to climb into the still seemingly flimsy cage and even though the cold water took my breath away, I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy the cage felt once I was inside.

There’s nothing on this planet I could’ve done to prepare myself for what happened next. Head under water, I stare into the deep blue waters, trying not to wet my suit from the inside. My heart was beating in my throat and then, all of a sudden, this silver blimp appears as a blur in the distance…

Time froze while this creature was slowly and gracefully gliding through the water toward us and I was certain that it was going to dart straight into our cage. To my pleasant surprise, the Great White beast graciously approached us with no interest in the cage at all. It brushed past the cage at such close proximity that I could see every scar on this mighty beast.

Now you’d think that rule #1 of shark cage diving is to keep your limbs inside the cage at all times, but at that moment, contrary to everything I thought and felt up until that point, I was fighting an incredibly irrational urge to reach out and stroke this seemingly friendly and docile Great White Shark.

The thrill of being face to face with a Great White Shark has become more and more popular among thrill seekers these days. Adrenaline junkies and curious tourist alike have all been “privileged” to experience such a majestic beast up close. And the part I love most is the fact that it’s the humans in the cage - not the animals.

Now you might think that it’s a dangerous practice, as so many videos have gone viral that portrayed shark cage diving as opportune moments for sharks to try their luck at having humans as a meal. Nothing is further from the truth.

 

  • FACT 1: It’s a known fact that this fear of sharks was as a result of the movie “Jaws”. Peter Benchley, the author of the book “Jaws,” who has done a Great White cage dive out of Gansbaai, has gone on record as saying that “had he known then, what he knows now, he would never have allowed Steven Spielberg to make the movie “Jaws.”

 

  • FACT 2: Every person - diver or non-diver - who has ever been out Great White Shark viewing or Great White Shark cage diving, has come away with a new appreciation for the awesome beast that it is. It is not the “man killer” that Jaws has made it out to be. Also, each and every person, diver - or non-diver - who has ever been out Great White Shark viewing or Great White Shark cage diving, has returned to shore as an ambassador for the Great White and works hard to protect this magnificent creature.

 

  • FACT 3: In the whole history of Great White cage diving in South Africa, only one “scuba” diver has been attacked and killed by a Great White. This was way back in 1976. The location was Seal Island off Mossel Bay, South Africa. The diver had completed her dive. She handed back all her dive gear to the skipper on the boat and was snorkeling on the surface with a wetsuit, mask, snorkel, and fins, observing her “buddies” below whilst they continued with their dive. This is when she was “hit.” 

The Great White took one bite, didn’t like what it tasted, and swam away. The unfortunate diver died due to excess blood loss, and shock. She was not eaten!

This is contrary to spear fisherman, who shoots their prey, attach it to their belt while the fish is still alive and bleeding, and then go on in search of another fish to shoot. Ever wondered why spear fishermen call the weight belt “a suicide belt”?????? They often fall prey to Great White’s, but the Great White is going for the bleeding and wriggling fish attached to the suicide belt, - not the spear fisherman!

Likewise – surfers are “bullet proof” or “goofed,” they go out in known shark infested waters in search of the “perfect wave”. They know they are in the shark’s territory, but go out never-the-less. Ever thought of what a silhouette of a surfer in a wetsuit looks like to a Great White cruising the depths, whilst paddling his/her board on the surface of the ocean? You’re right, a seal! The natural prey of a Great White Shark. If a surfer gets “hit”, it’s merely a case of mistaken identity, but to the surfer’s detriment. Ask any surfer, who’s fully aware of the above, if they will stop surfing? No!

How shark cage diving enlightened me:

It didn’t take much for me to be in awe of these gentle giants. Sure, their teeth are intimidating, but all they really want is a fat seal. Turns out that luring sharks with a fake seal does more good than harm. The young ones love the chase and its good practice, so they’ll keep going at it, even if they know it’s fake. You don’t need “bait” to lure them – the chum (made up of mashed sardines, sardine blood and sardine oil) are sufficient to attract the shark to the boat. Sharks can detect one particle of blood in a million particles of water. I was also told by a shark enthusiast that the statistics of being attacked by sharks are so marginal, odds are 300:1 You are more likely to be killed by being hit on the head by a falling coconut, than being eaten by a Great White whilst shark cage diving!

My conclusion – after seeing them in their natural habitat and realising how incredible they really are, I’m most definitely going to urge others to go shark cage diving with Dive the Big 5. I’m also going to donate money to the foundations that are trying to prevent people from hunting them for their fins!

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