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My Best Shark Cage Diving Experience Ever!

written by Monique Fallows

Monique Fallows cage diving with a Great White shark around Seal Island, False Bay.

Posted on Monday, 20 February 2012

Many tourists and wildlife fanatics visit Cape Town with their number 1 priority to go shark cage diving with one of the ocean’s most formidable predators, The Great White Shark. In fact tourism stats show that over 40,000 people participate in cage diving in Cape Town each year, and that figure is growing constantly.

Our False Bay shark diving expeditions from Simons Town take place at Seal Island , only 45 minutes from Cape Town. Each winter Apex Shark Expeditions seeks out nature and shark fanatics and we aim to provide an educational but still highly exciting shark breaching and cage diving tour.

As such Chris, myself and our crew spend a huge amount of time out on the water and spending this time out at Seal Island gives us an amazing opportunity to experience great white sharks and other marine wildlife. False Bay is more famous for great white shark breaching behaviour but it is also excellent for shark cage diving. When a good opportunity comes along, we make sure we make the most of it!

On this particular day in May a few years ago we were doing one of our last trips on our much smaller and much loved vessel, White Pointer. It was a very humid day and shortly into the trip we were experiencing Thunder bolts and lightning, highly unusual for the False Bay and Simons Town area! This also created a rather unique feeling whilst watching great white sharks swim around our boat.

Half way into the trip we had a beautiful 4.3 meter female great white shark arrive at the boat. She was absolutely magnificent as she slowly and lazily circled our boat and shark cage. Not only is it rare to see a large shark, it’s also unusual for a great white shark of this size to stay around for a long period of time. The lucky guest that happened to be in the cage was having an amazing shark cage diving experience. Our good luck continued and we managed to get all our guest on board to dive with this lovely female. As the last guest got into the shark cage Chris said I should quickly put on a wetsuit so that I could try dive with such a large shark. I donned a wetsuit in record time but the moment I entered the cage, she disappeared...! I was pretty disappointed but was still happy just to have seen this large shark from the boat.

As I was already submerged in freezing cold water I decided to stay in the shark cage and see who else decided to visit...I certainly did not believe that I was about to have my best shark cage diving experience ever! Shortly a 3.4 meter female arrived. Her approach was unusual as she did not go to our bait as other sharks would. Instead she came right up to the shark cage and ever so gently gave it a tiny nudge.



Not only is it rare to see a large shark, it’s also unusual for a great white shark of this size to stay around for a long period of time.

Most people would think this is not a good thing, but we spend most of our lives trying to get closer to sharks, they are generally very shy and wary animals. So, when they are openly curious, it is FANTASTIC! This lovely little shark then went on to do a lap of the boat and again instead of looking at the bait came and gently bumped the shark cage again. This produced plenty of snorkel screams of excitement from me. On the next lap Chris took the bait out of the water, so it was only the shark cage off the back of the boat. For the next 30 minutes this very special shark would just continually gently mouth and bump the cage.

The water visibility was pretty good and the sea completely flat. From my perspective in the shark cage I could watch her do most of her laps around the boat and then she would effortlessly float up from the depths and then straight towards me in the cage. She had her eyes open whenever she bumped the cage. As a defence mechanism sharks roll their eyes back when coming into contact with anything, they only keep them open when they are extremely comfortable and relaxed. She showed absolutely no aggression towards me and I think she was enjoying the encounter with me almost as much as I was appreciating her presence. So, around and around she would go with a stop at me in the shark cage on her regular lap of the boat.

It is difficult to describe what this close encounter shark cage dive experience was like. When you are underwater you don’t hear too much sound so to be down there in the silence with a gentle and curious great white shark is almost certainly a once in a lifetime experience. I truly believe this shark and I had a special connection for 30 minutes of each of our lives.

So, I hope my experience will give you all some insight into how it feels to go shark diving in False Bay! Even though we use a shark cage the sharks always seem to happy to share their environment with us in a non-threatening manner and it is a true provide to be able to spend time like this with them.




Great White Shark Cage Diving, Seal Island - False Bay

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