It all started on Friday morning when I woke at 05:30 to drive to Gansbaai to go cage diving with White Sharks. I went with Nick and Gareth, who are MSc students from Rhodes University working in the HIK Abalone Farm, and Scotty. When we arrived at the White Shark Projects office we were warmly welcomed with a full spread breakfast, fresh coffee, and hot tea. Soon we were joined by the rest of the group. Following a briefing by our skipper, we donned life-jackets and walked down to the harbor where the boat was ready and waiting. It only took several minutes for everyone to get settled and before I knew it, we were on the water bouncing over the swells. It was a spectacular start to the day as the sun was just breaking over the horizon and filling the bay with color. This is the location of the famed “Shark Alley” where White Sharks are known for taking to the air in pursuit of seals. Interestingly, the sharks have been frequenting an area of the bay where they are normally only found in the summer months. So instead of heading over to “Shark Alley” and Dyer Island, we went to a spot closer to the mainland. After dropping anchor, it was time to get suited up, organize the first group of divers, and start a chum line. The boys and I were fortunately in this first group. Before I had time to register what I was doing, someone yelled “Shark!!!” and we were climbing in to the cage that was lassoed to the side of the boat. The water was frigid! Despite the 7mm suite (which is the thickest wet-suite available) I could already feel the warmth leaving my feet. Of course, this is your least concern when a rather large Carcharodon carcharias glides past. It was magnificent! And the absolute antithesis of what the media leads you to expect out of these intriguing creatures – the attacking monster from the sea with rows upon rows of teeth aggressively reaching towards an innocent bather was not what I witnessed. Effortless grace, majestic beauty, and perhaps deceptive, calm. For being one of the largest fish in the ocean, they appear to exert no energy to glide through the water. It was one of the best twenty minutes of my life!
The adventure of Friday morning was only the start of a wonderful weekend! After getting back to the intern house in the early afternoon, I get cleaned up and ready to go to a braai with some friends. Several people are celebrating birthdays in July so they had a joint get-together. I retold the story of our trip that morning several times throughout the evening.
Saturday, I was able to see a little more of the beautiful SA coast as we took a drive up to Stellenbosch. We came around one curve and saw a breathtaking view of False Bay with a glimpse of Table Mountain way off in the distance. The sky was clear and the water beautiful, making for a wonderful day!
Yesterday, we talked ourselves into going for a snorkel, a little hesitatingly for fear of the cold water. But were pleasantly surprised to find the water nice once we got in! We dived right here in front of SASC, around the Old Harbour. I almost jumped out of my wetsuit when I saw a Pajama Shark! Usually, they are nocturnal and avoid divers so I was excitedly taking pictures as he swam past! A few minutes later we watched an Octopus give chase to a crab! It was spectacular fun! There is so much to see here that it is hard to know where to start.
|Haha! Not very flattering ... but what can I say?|