Being a city dweller I always forgot how amazing it is to be at the beach, and even better out on the ocean.
There is a special feeling that I always get when going out on a boat into the sea, a sense of freedom and pure relaxation. Maybe it’s the fresh air or perhaps it’s just getting away from land for a bit to get a bit of perspective on life again.
Anyway, it’s always awesome. And I’ve now discovered something even better than just going out to sea on a boat.
Shark Cage Diving!
Getting below the water and experiencing these massively awesome creatures up close and personal.
On a recent visit to Gansbaai in the Western Cape to visit the newly built African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, we were invited to go Shark Cage Diving with Marine Dynamics. This was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had no idea what to expect, and was completely blown away by the beauty and tranquillity of these amazing animals. You might not believe me when I say that a great white shark coming straight towards your cage with all teeth showing is tranquil, but somehow it is. It’s amazingly calm under the water.
Marine Dynamics is part of Shark Watch SA who do great work on the protection and research of the Great White Sharks in the area. They also work with the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary in the conservation of Penguins and other marine birdlife in the area.
Gansbaai is home to much marine life. Not only are hundreds of great white sharks attracted to the bay, but there are also dolphins, whales in season, thousands of seals on Dyer Island and birdlife (including the highly endangered African Penguin). Shark Watch SA, Whale Watch SA and the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary are all doing great work to conserve all of this marine life and working hard on developing further research.
If you’re interested in going Shark Cage Diving I highly recommend going with Marine Dynamics, I haven’t tried any of the other companies but Marine Dynamics definitely knew what they were doing. A marine biologist accompanies you on every trip, we had Kelly join our trip and she was full of knowledge about the sharks and happy to answer any question. I think it’s great to have someone who knows the sharks inside out, and is always looking out for the best interest of the sharks.
You start off the morning with breakfast and quick introduction video to get a taste of what’s to come. You then all hop on the boat (Slashfin) and head out to the shark spot. We were lucky enough to pass a school of about 50 dolphins swimming around the boat on the way. When the sharks arrive you all take turns on hopping into the cage, 8 at a time for about 20 minutes at a time. You get a full wet suite but it doesn’t keep out the cold. The water is absolutely freezing in the Western Cape, so be ready for that!
Once in the cage you wait for the sharks to come past the cage then you duck under water and watch them glide past. If you’re lucky enough (or unlucky if you’re scared) a shark will come straight for the cage with their mouth wide open. I thought I’d be scared, but surprisingly it wasn’t scary at all. It was pretty cool to get so close to the sharks and see them in their natural surroundings.
After the diving you go back to the restaurant, have a hot meal and watch the video of the trip you’ve just done.
The whole trip was really educational and I walked away knowing a whole lot more about sharks and overall marine life conservation.
Make sure to also pop into the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary around the corner from where you meet for the shark cage diving. The sanctuary opened its doors in February this year and is a state of the art facility that takes in injured, diseased and distressed birds to be treated and rehabilitated.
They make sure to keep the birds in the sanctuary for the minimum amount of time, making sure that they are properly rehabilitated and able to survive again in the wild before releasing them. The African Penguin is an endangered species, so they are doing everything that they can to keep the species thriving in the area. You can stop by the sanctuary and see what birds they have at the time - you might get to see an African Penguin or another interesting seabird.
Travel tip shared by Bridget Williamson
Thanks to Marine Dynamics and the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary for inviting Traveldudes. These are my own thoughts and experiences. Traveldudes maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.