Jaws: Real Life is Better

As we neared Gansbaai I began to feel increasingly nervous – it was my first time Shark Cage Diving and I didn’t know what to expect. I mistakenly watched the movie Jaws when I was younger and have had a secret fear of the immense Great White Shark ever since. This was my attempt to overcome it and to meet the beautiful creatures in real life, ridding myself of all my ignorant misperceptions and learning the truth about what is really so great about Great Whites.

Gansbaai is beautiful – I couldn’t stop staring at the golden beaches and rugged peaks and thinking how lucky people are who actually get to call the gorgeous seaside town home. We arrived at the picturesque Kleinbaai Harbour and I took a few photos of the brightly coloured boats bobbing gently in the docks, before climbing on board our boat and being greeted by the friendly crew.

We had already enjoyed a delicious meal and been briefed about what to expect, so I climbed to the boat’s upper deck and relished the fifteen minute trip out to the channel which lies between Geyser and Dyer Islands. As we were chugging swiftly along, I noticed a sudden spray of water followed by the emergence of an enormous tale – the tell-tale signs of a whale lying just beneath the surface. The boat stopped and we spent some happy moments watching our giant friend frolicking gracefully before we got on our way again and reached the channel.

I capitalised on the refreshments on offer, while watching the crew pour the chum into the water and pull the decoy and bait lines close to the cage. Suddenly one of the staff told me to look to the right and I saw the familiar sight of the unmistakable dorsal fin racing towards us. In a flash the massive predator launched its entire frame out the sea and stayed airborne for a heart-stopping two minutes before crashing back into the ocean. 

We were dressed in our wetsuits and ready for action. I could feel my heart racing as I climbed into the cage and the dive master gave us our final instructions. I drew in my breath and plunged below the water’s surface, just in time to see the remarkable sight of a six metre long Great White powering towards me, astonishingly close to the cage, with his jaw wide open exposing rows of razor sharp teeth. I could feel myself tensing, my whole body pulsing with adrenaline as I watched the sharks surround us, appearing suddenly and shockingly out of the deep. The dive master was extremely reassuring and pointed out the different sharks as they approached us. It was honestly one of the most indescribable experiences that I have ever had and witnessing the grace and phenomenal power of the apex predators was incredible – it was possibly the most alive that I have ever felt.

My Jaws inspired phobia of sharks was overcome that day. I felt completely safe within that cage and somehow, as I watched the fearsome creatures swim so effortlessly after the bait, I realised that humans were never meant to be terrified of sharks. They do not see us as prey and the sad misperceptions that we have of them are sorely misplaced and need to be changed, as every effort should be made to conserve the beautiful animals rather than to harm them.

I climbed out of the cage and spent some time taking photos from the boat’s upper deck, which provided the perfect platform from which to witness the flurry of activity beneath the surface of the sea. I watched the sharks approach and circle the cage and took some epic pictures which I know I am going to be showing my future grandchildren one day.

We got back to the harbour, excitedly swapping stories the whole trip back and then piled into some delicious refreshments and watched a DVD of the day’s dive. I bought the DVD to remind myself of the fear that I had overcome and the incredibly precious moments which I shared, face to face with a Great White. Shark cage diving in Gansbaai is a remarkable opportunity and a chance to visit one of the Western Cape’s most beautiful areas. White Shark Diving South Africa is a professional, eco-friendly, responsible company which made my shark cage diving trip absolutely unforgettable.