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More Dive Trips

Shark Diving in South Africa

South Africa is well known for its game parks, but it also has much to offer underwater along its coastline, including several places notable for sharks.

The coast around Cape Town is influenced by the cold Benguela current flowing northwards which drops the water temperature to a very cold 10 to 12 degrees

 

 

HERMANUS about 150km east of Cape Town is well known for great white shark cage "diving" and whale watching. Despite some reservations, I decided to do a shark cage "dive" as I have never seen a great white, and the cost of doing it in South Africa is much less than in Australia.
I joined a group of 12 others on a boat , and after a short trip out from nearby Gansbaai waited while burly and a tuna head on a rope was thrown out to attract any great whites in the area, along with three other boats doing the same thing. Soon enough, the spotter called for four of us with wet suits and masks in a cage tied beside the boat, to duck underwater to see the shark approach the tuna head.
They are impressive, beautiful creatures, and seemed inquisitive, rather than aggressive. From the cage we only saw a few glimpses of the sharks, and it was all over in a few minutes, before we had to get out for the next group of four to get in the cage. Despite the short time and wet suits, I got quite cold very quickly. We were allowed a second time in the cage and then it was all over, for a shivering boat ride back.

 

The coast around Durban is influenced by the warm Mozambique flowing southwards which raises the water temperature to around 22 degrees, suitable to oceanic black tip, ragged tooth, and at times tiger sharks.

 

 

ALIWAL SHOAL about 50km south of Durban is well known for these shark species. As with the cage diving, the sharks are also attracted by burley and bait, but this time there are no cages and it is scuba diving with them. The boat, a semi rigid inflatable with six divers on board was launched from the Umkomas river, and there was a rough passage through the surf where you have to wear a life jacket, followed by a 20 minute trip to the dive spot, a few kilometres offshore, which was rather bumpy with a swell running. Eventually a shark turned up, and with some trepidation we did backward rolls in. Underwater all was calm, the visibility was good, and the water comparatively warm. After a while more sharks started circling around the bait tin which was on a line at about 10m depth. We kept our distance and at one stage there were about a dozen black tip oceanic sharks in the vicinity, complete with remoras. It was adrenalin stuff, but the sharks did not seem interested in us.
There was also a large, very curious potato bass, that came up close enough to me that I could stroke him. We also did a second dive (un baited), which we saw two ragged tooth (a relative of the grey nurse) sharks, and I surfaced without feeling cold.

 

 

Overall, I enjoyed the experience at Aliwal Shoal much more than at Hermanus. Note it seems that dry suits are not generally used in South Africa.


August 2015