Written by Nina Daniels
Shark Cage diving is a one of the most exciting and exhilarating, yet safe and educational experiences that you could do whilst you’re in Cape Town.
The action potentially starts once aboard the boat and heading out of the harbour. The travel across False Bay to Seal Island is filled with fresh salty air, spectacular views of our coastline, and the possibility of encountering whales (in season), dolphins, penguins, and other marine life. The boat travel to the dive spot in a mere 25 minutes, and in that time, the excitement is brewing whilst we scan the beautiful blue horizon for signs of marine wildlife.
On arrival, the island is buzzing with movement and echoing calls of the Cape Fur Seals. They communicate with sounds, that if you closed your eyes, you’d think you’re standing next to a paddock of sheep. Other than their hysterical vocal expressions, the island smell is something that you never really get used to. (LOL) When the seals are sunbathing on the rock, they look lazy, slow and awkward. However, when they immerse themselves into the ocean, they become these underwater gymnasts, that twist and turn like a trapeze artist.
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On the island you’ll also find some of natures spectacular fisherman in the form of marine birds, namely the Cape Cormorants, White Breasted Cormorants and Bank Cormorants. They dive an average of 10-12metres (30 feet) to forage the ocean floor for food and can reach depths of up to 30metres (90 feet). Occasionally we also find the adorable African Penguins on the island, toddling down to the water’s edge, to depart for the continuous hunt for food.
Once we have toured the island, we then find a suitable spot to weigh anchor, and start looking for sharks. Environmental conditions, like wind direction, current and water temperatures play a significant role in how we position the vessel, in order to maximize our chances of finding our finned friends.
Whilst the boat is on anchor, we get out first group of enthusiastic cage divers ready into wetsuits. Before long, we see a dark shadow approach beneath the surface, the first bronze whaler shark has decided to pay us a visit. It’s a moment of excitement and beauty. These sharks have the most striking copper colour, hence their other name, the copper shark.
The dorsal fin breaks the surface as the shark curiously investigates the environment around the boat. The beaming bronze body makes a graceful pass in front of the cage, and we jump into action to get our cage divers into the water.
Bronze whalers are the type of shark that don’t mind each other’s company, unlike their predatory friends the great white sharks who are solitary animals. If we have multiple bronze whaler sharks around the boat at one time, we can really see how they become more comfortable and interactive within the environment. These sharks are not only beautiful in colour, they are significantly large animals. Growing up to 3.3metres or 11feet in length, they are incredible to witness up close and personal in their natural environment on a cage diving trip in Cape Town.
Cage diving time is usually orientated around shark activity and not a schedule. When working with nature, its difficult to put an exact time on how things will go. Operator’s experience is definitely something to value, as with experience and knowledge, comes understanding of the animals personalities and movements which in turn optimize viewing for our guests, as well as working ethically with the sharks.
We truly believe that joining a shark cage diving trip whilst you’re in Cape Town will truly change your perspective and create memories that will last a lifetime.