Published November 19, 2009
Shark diving is not only scuba diving’s most sought after attraction but shark lovers all over the globe are going in search of their favourite giant sharks. Shark diving, in fact, is becoming a very strong component of the tourist industry in South Africa and perhaps, this may finally shed some light on the danger these wonderful creatures are in.
Diving with the sharks is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic experiences. The myths, the scary stories and even scarier films have turned sharks into the most fearful creatures that rule the sea. The reality is exactly the opposite. The sharks should be scared of us, humans. Many die in the shark nets, many are caught for their fins and jaws.
Because of the irresistible aura of danger and threat that surrounds the Great Whites divers are drawn to South African waters, where the sharks are plentiful. The diving here may become very tricky. Water may be very cold, visibility poor; currents are often wild and unpredictable. On the other hand, a good day will reveal a dark blue paradise with abundance of wildlife and overwhelming diversity of colours. Jesser Point is one of the best sites to start at. There are many nearby reefs which feature beautiful corals, hoards of colorful fish, and quite a few kinds of sharks on a good day.
Protea Banks is one of the sites which should be taken very seriously. Only advanced divers are encouraged to come here. Protea Banks is a rocky reef some 5 miles off the coast at Shelley Beach. The underwater scenery is truly overpowering, especially when sharks are frequent visitors here. Many come to watch The Sardine Run here “a major attraction during June and July. Even surface-viewings are available for non-divers.
Only either a complete fool or a suicide victim would enter great white shark-infested water without the protection of a cage and it is of utmost importance to ensure that no fishing is going on in the area as there must be no blood in the water. However, a cage is not necessary for watching all sharks. The filter-feeding whale shark is no danger to humans, unless, of course, it manages to accidentally swipe the diver with its gigantic tail. Despite the huge number of films with shark attacks and the creatures” gruesome reputation, shark attacks are rare and even rarer on divers.
Cage diving with Great Whites is clearly the top of the list for all adrenaline junkies. In Gansbaai, near Cape Town, there are several diving companies which will take the keen divers on their greatest adventure. While the industry has been developing somewhat wildly, there are tendencies now among locals to become more responsible and aim to protect the endangered Great Whites. The system is still being developed, though hopefully, a combination of effective presentations and careful, controlled diving will have a positive effect and will generate necessary funds to protect these amazing creatures.
Apart from Shark Alley near the Dyer Islands of the coast of South Africa, the main destinations for shark lovers are The Bahamas, Dangerous reef in the Neptune Islands of the south coast of Australia, and Guadelupe Island off the coast of Mexico.
Having discovered these shark-watching havens, it is important to note the absolute basic of such an activity: safety.
Though sharks are considered to be members of the world’s group of most dangerous creatures, swimming with them and taking pictures of them is actually quite safe.