Africa Week- Swimming with Sharks

When the suggestion was made that we go shark diving on our African holiday, I never once hesitated because of fear. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend the money, but I never felt afraid. Maybe watching Jaws in pre-school when I was 4 had some positive long term affect on me after all. I decided to give it a go and I was sure that once I was on that boat, fear would finally appear.

So while in Cape Town, Andrew, Stu, Mitchell, Sara and I headed out before sunrise to make it to Gansbaai (Shark Alley). We loaded up on a home cooked breakfast and then headed out to the boat. My shark fear still hadn’t appeared… to this point my biggest fear was not of the blood-thirsty, man-eating great whites, oh no- I was MUCH more afraid of the icy cold water (10-15c, 50-59f) I was about to jump into. I figured the shark fear would come once I was in the water.

How it works is they basically attach a cage to the side of the boat and it floats at the top of the water (as you can see in the photo). We suit up in thick wetsuits and hoods and then up to 6 people can jump in the cage at one time.  On our boat we had 2 groups of 5 so we had a bit more space. You just simply float at the top until the guides spot a shark and then they’ll yell at you to go down. You hold your breath and pull yourself under the water to watch the sharks swim by.

The other group (the Swedes) went first and we were SO glad they did. They spent about 30 minutes in the freezing cold water with hardly as much as a fish swimming by. The sharks finally started to appear and that’s when the guides had them switch and our group jumped in to the water.

My fear of sharks still never materialized.

We saw a few great whites swim around our cage but nothing too exciting happened at first. After awhile some of us got out of the water because we were getting cold and a few of the other group jumped back in. Still nothing dramatic happened. Finally, that group all got too cold and Stu and I decided we wanted to jump back in. It was just the two of us but that is when the action started!! Finally some sharks started attacking the bait! I tried to get video but it was a bit hard to concentrate on my camera when there was a huge death machine swimming inches away from my face. I think you can get the point from the videos below though. I’ve chosen not to embed them in the blog because they are too small when you do that and you really need to watch these in a bigger window. Notice how close my hands are to the outside of the cage in the first video.

Sharks Video 1

Please excuse my foul mouth in the next video. Evidently when a great white is swimming directly at me, profanities just come spilling out.

Sharks Video 2

After seeing all the action that was occurring (you could watch it all from above on the top of the boat which is why you can hear cheering and screaming in the 2nd video) a few others jumped back in the cage so most all of us were exposed to the thrill and exhilaration of getting up-close and personal with these massive creatures.

I still won’t say I was scared of the sharks. The experience definitely got my adrenaline pumping but I wouldn’t call it fear. Honestly, it was definitely one of the coolest things I did while in Africa. More cool things will be posted about soon!

3 thoughts on “Africa Week- Swimming with Sharks”

  1. the Shark Vidoes are really cool! Good Job! I can’t believe you would do that. I’m so glad you did.


  2. That is awesome Elsja! I probably would have been screaming profanities too if I saw one of those things coming towards me, cage or not, still scary!

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