Discover The Cape

April 2005 Newsletter

Cape Town Accommodation, Tours & Travel

A Shark Tale

I was babysitting my niece and nephew the other day, having been tricked into it by their conniving mother, a sly woman who jetted off for a night on the town. I had passed out after she had spiked my drink, and awoke several hours later to find a four year old and an eight year old sitting in front of me, staring intently as I emerged from my slumber.

Swimming With Sharks

Quickly realising the situation I found myself in (this wasn't the first time their mother had done this), I stumbled over to the kitchen to have a stiff drink, while the kids entertained themselves with "Shark Tale", an animated movie about, ironically enough, a shark. It was mildly entertaining, and once the movie ended (too soon for my liking) the four-year old sat up and announced, "Uncle Caped Discoverer, I want to swim with the sharks".

"Well, dear nephew," I said nonchalantly, wiping imaginary dust off my shoulder, "it just so happens that I've actually swam with sharks". "Tell us more! Tell us more!" shouted the kids as I began to sense a topic for this month's column.

Shark Diving

Here in the Cape, we have an abundance of great white sharks swimming around our shores. They are a protected species and their numbers have justifiably soared because of this. This makes the Cape region an ideal spot for shark divers, although things can get a bit dodgy for surfers, seals and people who enjoy swimming in really deep waters. Gansbaai is a popular venue for shark enthusiasts and that's probably a good place to start. There are a number of shark diving operators in this area who would absolutely love to throw you in a cage surrounded by the feared sea predators, especially if you piss them off on the way there.

Forget the movie "Jaws", sharks actually don't like the taste of humans - well maybe there are a few who do (you can't account for taste after all) but the point is that sharks will generally stay away from humans. More and more people are beginning to understand this, although it can be quite annoying when a surfer gets chomped every few months.

When To Go

So anyway, some information you'll need to know when shark diving. The best time to see the sharks would be around the April - September months, when their favourite snack, namely seals and the odd game fish are in abundance. This is the high season, which means you'll probably have to fork out a little more than you usually would. You don't need to bring any gear though, as wetsuits are supplied. You don't use scuba diving equipment either, which I had initially assumed, as you need to be trained in order to use this. Instead, they attach weight belts to your waist which obviously causes you to sink to the bottom of the cage, enabling you to see the sharks. Don't fret though, these weight belts aren't the kind used by Mafioso types to make you "sleep with the fishes". These are light enough to allow you to pull yourself back up.

What To Take

A camera would be really great for this sojourn, so don't be a Wally and forget it like I did. I was left cursing loudly when I realised I'd left mine in the car, and the operator threatened to throw me overboard unless I stopped, which I duly did. Another prerequisite is motion sickness tablets, but that goes without saying. The last thing you want is to spend the trip with your head over the edge, knowing that a Great White is in close proximity.

Shark diving is a great adrenaline-pumping past time, similar to bungee jumping or sky diving, which we'll tackle at a later stage. It's pretty unreal to see a shark swim within five feet of you and, while in the cage, I could quite easily have wet myself, were it not for the fact that it wasn't my wetsuit and there was a hot Scandinavian blonde next to me who surely would have noticed. It's definitely worth your while to try this though, people tend to look at you with great admiration when they hear about it and everyone loves being admired, don't they?

When To Go

So after finishing my shark diving story, which to be honest sounded a bit like an infomercial, I was pleasantly surprised to find them fast asleep, no doubt dreaming of their courageous uncle going head to head with a killer shark.

Until next month then.

Signing off.
The Caped Discoverer

 

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