Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Swimming with sharks

While in South Africa, I decided that I wanted to do a shark dive. You know, when they put you in a cage, chuck you overboard and then chum the seas with blood and guts to cause a feeding frenzy whilst Great Whites circle the boat.

Anyway, I made a few calls and asked around. The price had risen from R45 (about £3.80) when my brother did it 3 years ago to R1200. Now that's inflation! And apparently, there's no guarantee that you'll even see a shark. A bit harsh I thought.

So when we stopped in at the 2 Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town and they offered a chance to dive with their Raggies (Ragged Tooth Sharks) for a mere R450, I jumped at the opportunity.

I arrived at 11am in Wednesday morning. We were read the riot act (no touching the sharks or rays, no scratching the aquarium windows), signed away our lives and then kitted-up on the aquarium roof. Iain, our Scottish instructor, lead the way. He also held our only means of defense, a 2 foot long, wooden pole - "for pushing the sharks away if they get a little hungry". GREAT!

We lowered ourselves gently into the water, not wanting to upset any of the inhabitants of the aptly named "Predator Tank". Sharks tend to attack things that are on the surface, so we had to be very careful.

Soon we were finning around the bottom of the tank with the greatest of ease while Iain kept a weary eye out for Bella, the 3.5m long 'mamma' of the tank. The fish were quite inquisitive and came right up to us. We were also sucked into entertaining the humans on the other side of the 11m glass wall. People waved, blew kisses and took photos of us as we swam past them. The loggerhead turtle kept looking for food as she glided by us. The musselcracker, yellowfin tuna and leervis couldn't have cared less.

Eventually our 40 minute session was up. We slowly made our way back up to the surface, keeping an eye on the 4 raggies.

What an experience! I definitely recommend it. And your money goes to a good cause, not some cash-greedy boat owner. Remember, sharks are also on the endangered list!
Getting out of Bella's way

"Smile for the birdie!"

PS: The son of the other diver in the tank with us spent 2 days at sea with a shark cage operator and saw nothing!
PPS: Bella and her mate, Billy, are soon to be released into the Indian Ocean.

Chat soon,

1 comment:

Terri said...

You're a braver soul than I, cuz!