It’s the fiercest looking creature on the planet, black eyes and raw power, not to mention the rows upon rows of sharp teeth. The Great White Shark almost immediately puts Steven Spielberg’s Jaws soundtrack into your head. Having said that, once you get past the fearsome look and the misconceptions, you’ll be able to see what a magnificent specimen the Great White actually is. This masterfully designed predator is a natural marvel and can reach up to speeds of approximately 15 miles per hour. In South Africa, we are privileged enough to get as close as possible to these creatures, with of course, a cage in between.
Gaansbaai is known for its dense population of Great White sharks and is a popular and often the preferred destination for shark cage diving. Off the coast of Gaansbaai are two small islands, Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. Geyser Rock is home to approximately 60 000 Cape Fur Seals and the channel in between these islands is Shark Alley. A fun fact is that Dyer Island was named Ilha da Fera, which means Island of wild creatures, and was so named by Portuguese seafarers in the 15th Century.
This is where White Sharks Projects comes in. With over fifteen years experience they are so much more than just a shark cage diving company, although their experience of interacting with the Great Whites is renowned. They are involved in various community upliftment projects. Their White Shark Recycle Swop Shop is a recycling initiative that encourages the local children to bring in their recycling to gain points. They then use those points to buy stationery and clothes in the shop. A soup kitchen on Tuesdays and an annual charity golf day, helps the local community tremendously. They are also dedicated to the conservation of the Great White and they are actively involved in with the research projects of the South African Shark Conservancy.
There is simply nothing this company can’t do. But what is an average day like with them? It starts with a scenic drive from Cape Town or Hermanus to their home base in Kleinbaai. If you’re feeling decadent, a private car, a helicopter or micro light can be arranged as well. Once you’ve arrived, it’s a continental breakfast with yogurt, muffins, cold, meats, toast and tea and coffee. While you enjoy the breakfast, the skipper gives a brief introduction on the Great White Shark. Then it’s time to hop on the boat. It’s aptly named “Shark Team” and is an 11 metre, 4 ton, catamaran, kitted with all the latest electronic and safety equipment.
There’s a palpable air of adrenaline as you spot the first Great White and it’s heightened when you start easing yourself into the cage. There’s a certain sense of humility as you come in close contact and then a feeling of utter awe. The Great Whites can be wary to approach the boat at first. Yes, you read that right. The iconic Great White feared by millions, is a little boat shy.
Two to three hours are usually reserved for these trips. Even seeing the Great Whites from the catamaran is something that you will never forget. It’s known as topside viewing. Another term is spy hopping and this is when the Great White will actually breach the water in pursuit of prey. This is a truly remarkable experience to witness and capture on film. Lunch is served on board and while you may find yourself a little hyper and in the moment with the Great Whites, a professional videographer is recording everything and you can watch it all on DVD later.
Have a look at White Shark Projects Promotional Video:
To have a once in a lifetime experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your Great White adventure!
Images Courtesy: White Shark Projects