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Dodging Sharks | Shark Dive South Africa

by Arjan Ligtermoet

One of the great adventures in live is diving with the top predator of the ocean without a cage. Seeing this majestic animal swim by and making eye contact is a feeling which is hard to describe. This is something you have to experience before you believe it!

Where to go?

Scuba diving with sharks without a cage is something which you can’t do on your own. You need someone with experience with sharks and who knows what he’s doing. To find this man we traveled all the way to Umkomaas South Africa. There met up with Walter from African Watersports who has over 25 years of experience in diving with sharks.

The Stars of the Show!

The Aliwal Shoal is known for its great shark population and is one of only three places in the world where you can dive with big sharks without a cage. Ragged Tooth, Bull, Tiger, Great White and Ocean black tip sharks all call the Aliwal Shoal there home. The chance of encountering a Great White shark is very slim though thanks to over fishing the Great White has become a rare thing to see in the wild. All other sharks can turn up on your dive but nature is gonna nature so there is no guarantee that you will see every single type of shark. The one thing you can be sure of is that you are gonna see a lot of sharks!
Shark dive South AFricaShark Dive South Africa

The Dive

The first dive on our schedule is Cathedral Reef dive. After descending to 27 meters (88 feet) we found our self surrounded by a great rock formation, hence the name the Cathedral. Dead smack in the middle was our spot where we waited for the Ragged Tooth sharks to arrive. After ten minutes or so the first 3 meter (9 foot) shark came swooping over edge of the formation followed by six of his palls. The feeling in your gut when you see these great predators swim by is simply amazing. The funniest thing however is that they are truly interested in you and you almost see them wonder…what are you doing here.
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Dive Numero dos

For the second dive we hoped back on the boat and raced off to the middle of nowhere. In the middle of the ocean the crew began baiting the sharks with dead fish intestines however they only use the oil of the fish to avoid feeding the sharks. After ten painstaking minutes for sharks hoping to take the bait they finally arrived. On this dive site it is possible to encounter ,besides the Ocean Black Tip sharks, the bigger sharks of the Aliwal Shoal like the Tiger- and Bull shark.
Shark Dive South AfricaShark Dive South Africa

Before you dive in Walter will give you the much needed instructions like stay together and don’t turn your back on the big sharks. He told us sharks are basically dogs and they sense when you’re nervous. They develop an interest in you and come closer and closer until you put a halt to it by shouting through your regulator. You enter the water by doing a backroll of the boat right next to the sharks. After descending to 15 meter (60 feet) the bait bucket is lowered which keeps the sharks occupied. The Sharks race around you and don’t mind your presence at all. They even swim by to check you out. All of an sudden your eye to eye with a 9 feet Ocean Black Tip shark.

Sadly the big boys didn’t show up but the ‘smaller’ sharks where a attraction all by themselves. In total there where about 30 sharks who honored us with a visit.
Shark Dive South Africa


The dangers of such a dive are pretty manageable. First of all you get great instructions from the guides which are all simple to obey. Stay with the group, rest your hands under your armpits and don’t turn your back on the big sharks. Sharks tend to check you out and do this in circles and with every pass the come a bit closer. Its quitte easy to put a stop to this if you feel uncomfortable. Just shout through your regulator and blow a lot of bubbles, this always scares of the shark. Sharks already think a diver is weird underwater because we blow bubbles and during a shark dive you dive upright. There is no animal in the ocean who behaves this way. So as long your not feeding, spearfishing or behaving as a lunatic, you’ll be completely safe during the dive!

Is it worth going for a Shark Dive South Africa?

YES! Get over your fear and engage in one of the best experiences of your life. Its safe and seeing a top predator cruise by you is an experience which you won’t forget the rest of your life!!

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