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Pelagic Trip

written by Kat Hodgson

A Blue shark off Cape Point, Cape Town

Posted on Monday, 21 April 2014

What an incredible day we had on our Pelagic trip! This is a trip that I have wanted to do for the past eleven years. I can’t tell you how little I slept the night beforehand, knowing this was to be my opportunity to see the Blue and Mako sharks firsthand. I was like a child at Christmas eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa and awoke early and eager to be on our way.

The conditions were perfect as we met with our guests in Simons Town; the sun slowly rising over the horizon towards a cloudless sky and the calm waters of False Bay. I just knew the shooting stars we saw overhead were a good omen of what was to come. All aboard and we headed south out of False Bay and onto the open ocean off South Africa's Cape Point. We were in search of the incredible wildlife found further offshore and travelled south for approximately 20 miles. The warmer Agulhas Current of the Indian Ocean meets the colder Benguela Current of the Atlantic in these waters and the sudden difference in air temperature as we passed from one current to the next was astounding. Skipjack tuna could be seen glistening in the early morning sunshine and we used hand lines to catch a handful of tuna to use as bait.

Onwards we motored into the Agulhas current and were greeted by a spectacular array of oceanic bird species; including both Shy and Black Browed Albatross, Storm Petrels and the smoky grey White Chin Petrels. I have always wanted to see an albatross and their magnificent size, plumage and grace did not disappoint. There are 21 species of albatross recognised by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and sadly 19 of these are threatened with extinction due to the impact of long-line fisheries. It was a privilege to share our day with the albatrosses and watch as they soared effortlessly across the ocean.

No sooner had we begun to drift in the sunshine and put our bait on the line to lure the sharks in, than a striking blue/indigo coloured Blue shark arrived. The colour of these sharks is incredible and has to be seen to be believed! I was beside myself with excitement as we all raced to the stern for a closer look. The visibility of the water was excellent and we watched as the shark casually investigated our bait. No sooner had this happened than a Mako shark arrived! We couldn’t have asked for more as it checked out our bait repeatedly. The Mako was exactly as I expected; streamlined, efficient, the perfect open-ocean shark that I had imagined for years. Some of our guests were also lucky enough to witness the Mako leaping out of the water moments later.

 

 

We had up to twelve Blue sharks around the boat at any one time and our guests went cage diving all morning and into the afternoon. It is fair to say everyone had an incredible time in the water with the sharks and thoroughly enjoyed their inquisitive nature. I couldn’t stop smiling as one of our guests spent her time giggling underwater whilst the blue sharks passed her by. She had never seen a shark let alone dived with one before and was understandably delighted. Blue sharks are nomads of the open ocean, where food can be scarce, and every novel object in their environment is worth investigation. This curious nature makes them a real pleasure to dive with. 

Finally it was my turn to go into the cage and I didn’t need asking twice to hop in! Within seconds I was surrounded by these beautiful indigo sharks, passing close by as they investigated the bait. They were so graceful, mesmerising to watch and to see these sharks up close and personal, well, how couldn’t you fall in love with them?

 

It was a real pleasure to spend time with all of the wildlife we saw that day and witness the positive impact of these encounters on us all. One guest turned to me and explained how spending time with the Blue sharks had really changed his perspective. Another guest simply couldn’t stop smiling all day long, as she had many close encounters with a small Blue shark that took a shine to her every time she ventured into the cage. Those moments are something that will be treasured for life, taken home and shared with friends and family. I know I will be sharing mine again and again.

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Blue Sharks, Cape Point - Cape Town

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