We booked two days at Gansbaai, on the Western Cape coast about 90 mins
from Cape Town. The second day was confirmed for cage diving, with the
first provisionally booked as a days SCUBA diving in the Kelp forests
with Fur Seals.
Correct, that is diving with the big fishies main local foodsource, but
apparently the sharks don't like the feel of the Kelp, or something,
maybe they think it is spooky in there, but whatever, apparently they
don't come into the Kelp forest.
However marginally reassuring this may be, weather conditions (Southern
Ocean swell) meant the kelp diving was off, and I ended up doing two
days cage diving off Dyer Island.
Dyer Island is a low, rocky island about half an hour's fast ride out of
Gansbaai, neigbouring Geyser Rock home to a huge seal colony and more
Guano than you could ever ask for, the strip of water between named
The trip out over those Southern Ocean billows is moderately rough, and
the fish were generously fed both days by those struggling to locate sea
legs. Shark Alley provided a bit of shelter to moor up, deploy the cage
and get some tasty chum trailing in the water to try and attract Mr.
The operators all stress that the sharks are wild and an encounter
cannot be guaranteed - trying to insure themselves against
disappointment - but Carcharodon Carcharias showed no shy side to us.
Over the two days we had around fifteen different sharks, most coming
Diving in the cage is done on a simple breath hold - when the chummer
spots a shark he yells 'get down!' and hauls the chum towards the cage.
The shark cruises past, gnashes, flips it's tail, dances a polka etc -
then glides back off into the green distance. At which point you
remember to breathe. The largest fish was around four metres, and it
looked like a bus...
Conditions were bright African sunburn weather, water temp seventeen
degrees (late summer maximum) with visibility five metres or so. I
*still* don't have anything better than a couple of disposable UW
cameras to record the moment, but even so the sharks came in close
enough to get a few reasonable results:
A tick for one of the 'must see before I die' list - and a new entry at
the top of the 'can't wait to see again' list...
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Nice report, Huw - you've whetted my appetite to try this for myself! As you
say, it's definately one of those 'must try before I die' things - who
knows, I might even be able to combine the two if the cage was the fail! ;-)