I did it. I went shark cage diving in Mossel Bay! And, oh boy, what a thrill! It was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I’m so glad I did it. Those who know me might think it odd that, with my fear of swimming in fish infested waters, I would choose to put myself in close quarters with a shark. Well, let me try to explain…
I don’t like fish. I love fishing and I will gladly unhook and release the fish I catch, and over the last 8 months I’ve grown to love eating fried fish and grilled sardines. But I don’t like fish. I can’t stand the thought of swimming in lakes, ponds, rivers, or oceans because as I am there, treading water, all I can think about is a fish, of any size, coming up from underneath me and attacking me! Unnecessary? Probably, but it still happens. If I am at a body of water that has some sort of fish in it, and I mean anywhere in it, I will only go about waist deep before freaking out. If I go any further I prefer to be carried.
But here’s the catch: I love observing underwater life! Like seriously love it. I love aquariums and the giant fish tanks at Cabela’s. I love standing on docks or boats, or walking along rivers and seeing fish. I get giddy when I spot any sort of sea animal life! I just love it. So that’s why I wanted to go shark cage diving. I wanted to be in a controlled environment where I could see the sharks up close and personal in their own habitat. And let me tell you, it was amazing.
After check in, we started out the morning with a light breakfast and a short intro about what we were going to be doing, then we headed to the boat. The entire trip the crew and the Skipper were adamant that we knew that the point of this shark encounter was to show us that sharks are not vicious creatures, but are sweet and docile like a new puppy. From everything they told us to what I experienced I believe that they are wrong. Sharks are not anything like puppies! Have they ever seen a puppy??? And now I’m even more afraid to go swimming in the ocean.
Once on the boat, we took a 10 minute ride to Seal Island, literally a small island covered in seals, and began to “chum and bait” the sharks. The process consisted of mashing tuna and mixing it with salt water, then periodically throwing it out into the ocean, and hooking a tuna head to a long rope and throwing it out into the water over and over again. The sound of the tuna head hitting the water was to mimic that of a seal jumping and then trigger the sharks to come. The “chum” or the mashed up tuna mixed with salt water, was to intrigue the sharks curiosity and draw them closer to the source.
Here is one of the crew members “chumming” or throwing the mashed up tuna mixture into the water.
Here the Skipper is “baiting” by throwing the tuna head into the water to create a loud plop.
After about 30-40 minutes of doing this process we spotted our first shark! Ahh! Everyone was freaking out in excitement. The cage was already lowered into the water and attached to the boat so a few of us hurried to put on our wetsuits. Well, we attempted to hurry and put on our wetsuits, but lets be honest, it took quite a while to get those things on! One by one, six of us jumped into the cage not even caring that the water was absolutely freezing.
Once in the cage, we held on for dear life, careful to keep our arms and legs in the cage, and waited. The Skipper would yell, “Down! Shark! Left!” and then we’d push ourselves under the water and look left as a shark would be coming at the bait in front of us. As the shark would open it’s mouth to take the bait, the Skipper would yank it away from the shark and right at the cage! The shark would then come at the cage with it’s mouth open and it’s teeth all showing to go at the bait again! It was so cool!
On two occasions, the shark charged the cage, bit onto the corner and then thrashed! The cage was secured to the boat so the cage didn’t shake too much, but it was so cool to see! After this experience, I do think that sharks are very beautiful and incredible, but I would never, ever, ever, compare them to puppies. Maybe I should get the Skipper a puppy so he’ll know what one is like and stop comparing a shark to it. And, if you ever get the opportunity to go shark cage diving, I HIGHLY recommend it. I’ll be going again the next chance I get.