Being in the water with the Great White Shark is a dream of many divers and snorkelers. The safest way to make this dream come through is to join a licensed tour with experienced operators who know what they are doing. But because shark encounters are getting rarer and therefore they are harder to find, these tours are quite expensive. Our simple question is: Is Great White Shark cage diving worth your money? We got to experience it first hand!
Where to go?
There are several locations around the world where you can take a plunge with the Great White. These are just a few:
- Port Lincoln, South Australia
- Guadelupe, Mexico
- Bluff, New Zealand
- Cape Town, South Africa
For this article we are gonna focus on South Africa because we’ve got some first hand experience there. Also this is the only place in the world where the Great White makes it mighty leaps into the air. If you have a choice on which location to go, please go to False Bay, Cape Town. Seeing a 1800 pound shark leaping several foot in the air is a mighty sight and something you won’t forget easily.
Like said in the intro, cage diving can be a costly trip. The prices vary in high or low season. During high season when there is much more white shark action around Cape Town you pay $ 259,- a person for a morning trip. During the low season this is only $ 185,- a person. Important to know is that a low season means low shark activity. You would be lucky to see one or two sharks during your trip. Our suggestion is to always check Ocearch for shark activity in the region before you plan a trip to any location since shark activity can be seasonal. Also always go on a morning trip because this is the time of day where sharks are most active and usually hunt.
Your day starts early since the normal departure time is around 7.00 a.m. On the boot you get a safety briefing and of we went. In the early morning the first stop is Seal Island which is around 45 min out and as the name suggests, there are a lot of seals. The unique thing about False Bay is that the seals go from seal island to the main land every morning, crossing a large and deep stretch of ocean.
This is where the sharks come in. When the seals start there cross the use the numbers advantage and do it all together so they have a bigger chance of survival. The sharks gather in the stretch between the island and the main land where the ocean is at it’s deepest and wait until they can make out the signature of a seal on the surface. When they do they race to the surface in a excess of 21 mph and hitting the seal with a force equal to 5 g.
Depending on the light conditions the seal can see the shark coming and get out of it’s way. Therefore only 50 procent of the attacks are successful. As the morning gets brighter the attacks faint away and the sharks stop hunting.
Frits the decoy
Because the attacks happen so fast it is easy to miss them and therefore many operators in False Bay use a decoy. This decoy is towed behind the boat and triggers an attack even as the morning progresses and the natural hunt has ceased. So the chances are high you’r gonna see a big white shark leaping no matter what.
Fun fact: when they reel in the decoy they tend to do it as fast as possible so no attack is triggered near the boat.
Getting in the Cage
When the morning has come and all the darkness of the night is gone, it’s time to get the cage in the water. Sharks are drawn to the boat using a mixture of fish blood and chopped tuna. Also a big chunk of Tuna is put in the water on a rope to pull it away before the shark get’s it. Feeding the sharks is prohibited because this will upset their natural hunting instinct and they become reliant on the food they get from humans.
Normally a Shark cage is quite big and can hold up to five people. Most work on hold breath diving and lay near the surface. In more exotic places like Guadalupe they do lower the cage and use scuba equipment. Normally it won’t take long before a shark comes to visit and you can get up close and personal with it. Try to stay as silent as possible in the cage to prevent upsetting the shark. When you make to much noise they tend to leave. Just enjoy the site of the greatest predator in the ocean right in front of you.
So is Great White Shark Cage Diving Worth It?
Yes! Absolutely yes!! For me this was one of the greatest water related activities ever. Seeing this mighty beast leap several foot in the air was amazing. Getting in the cage afterwards and to actually see how big this animal is put it even more in perspective. Yes it is expensive but if you have the chance, go for it!