Great White Shark Cage Diving
There are two areas where Great White diving is done, Gansbaai and Mosselbaai. Both these destinations can be reached with a scenery drive from Cape Town International Airport. Below is some information on these areas and Great White Cage diving. Also some information on other diving sites.
Daily shark diving/sighting tours (weather permitting) are done off Gansbaai, a mere stone-throw away from the most southern tip of the African Continent. Approx. 12km offshore from Gansbaai (2hrs drive from Cape Town) there are two islands situated next to each other. Due to a number of geographical reasons – one being the shallow and narrow channel that runs between these two islands – Dyer Island has become known as one of only two unique areas in the world, where the chances to view the great white shark, rises exceptionally high. Other wildlife species such as Cape Fur Seals, Cape Gannets, Cape Cormorants, Jackass penguins, whales and dolphins are also likely to be sighted.
Gansbaai is little holiday and fishing village situated a 160 km from Cape Town. The area has several attractions for the nature lover with whale watching being the most popular. Accommodation may be taken close by at a very nice chalets with small harbour and sea views offering excellent meals. The shark dives are launched from the neighbouring Kleinbaai. Cage diving is strictly regulated by the authorities and conducted in an ethical way in accordance with international standards. It is absolutely safe and you need not have any diving experience at all, only a short course on safety and the use of the equipment.
On a typical day we meet the skipper early in the morning and then head out about 9 am and return about 3 pm – depending on the conditions, wind direction and currents you proceed to one of numerous holes, put down anchor and set out the bait. Only bait that forms part of the animal’s natural diet is used.
We then wait for the Great Whites to find us. This can take anything from minutes to several hours. In the meantime every one is briefed on the procedures, and the cage is put into the water. The cage is securely attached to a platform on the back of the boat and the top of the cage floats about 23 cm above the water. It is constructed of steel bars and is closed off at the top by means of a gate.
Once the first shark is spotted the bait lines are drawn in towards the boat so that everybody has the opportunity to view and admire this magnificent predator. The first cage renters the water and the lines are drawn slowly towards the cage to lure the shark. This is an emotional and heart stopping experience.
It must be remembered that these are wild animals, and no guarantees can be given that they will be sighted on a particular day. It is therefore advisable to budget for at least two consecutive days diving. Statistics kept of sightings over the last five years in Mosselbaai help to pick the best possible time of the year being April to July and September to November. In late Aug and early September 2004 there is a lot of shark activity, they are seeing 9 – 15 sharks a day.
In Gansbaai the best time of the year is in our winter season (April – September), when the sharks are particularly active in their feeding patterns (80-99%). Even though you still have a chance of seeing the sharks during the other months (October – February), their feeding patterns are different and they tend to have inconsistent feeding behaviour by feeding actively the one day and less active on other day’s. However, due to breeding season amongst the seals on Dyer Island during the months November to January natural feeding predations are often seen in the area. Sighting rate in the low season is approx. 60%.