By Kiara Homan
Shark cage diving in Cape Town offers a riveting encounter with the ocean's most formidable predator, the great white shark. The azure waters of the South African coast provide thrill-seekers with a unique opportunity to come face-to-face with these majestic creatures. Diving operators in the region prioritize safety and conservation, ensuring that this exhilarating experience is both secure and respectful to the marine environment. As the cage submerges, divers witness the raw power and elegance of the great whites, a moment that blends adrenaline with profound admiration, making it a must-do activity for any Cape Town visitor.
Gansbaai, once labelled the hotspot of great white shark cage diving is a huge tourist attraction. Sadly, with South Africa’s decline in this specific species, it has left many wondering if they will see sharks when diving in these waters.
Just over 2 hours away from Cape Town, Gansbaai enjoys a host of marine biodiversity which creates a haven not only for the diverse marine life but also for the predators that hunt them. It has a cove of beautiful kelp forests that allows for a rich habitat attracting many different creatures; from tiny species like the brittle starfish to giant species like the humpback whales who frequent the coast during breeding season (June – November).
The kelp forests provide the smaller shark species that larger sharks like the great white and bronze whalers typically hunt: like the pyjama shark, which grows to 1 meter and feeds on bony creatures at night; and the leopard catshark, which grows to approximately 84 cm and hunts at night for the high numbers of shrimp and squid that live in the forests.
There is also the puffadder shark, a small shark that only reaches a maximum of 60cm in length and feeds on worms and crustaceans. Another one is the gully shark, growing to 2 meters in length and hunting primarily squid. These smaller shark species are a great prey source for the juvenile and larger sharks in the area.
The bronze whaler shark, a species that has largely replaced the great white in Gansbaai, grows to 3.3 meters in length and lives in large groups. The old saying strength in numbers comes to mind as these groups help each other to hunt larger prey.
Another large species of shark that frequents the Gansbaai coast is the Broad-nose Sevengill shark, growing to a similar size to the bronze whaler. They enjoy cruising within the kelp forest and are generally bottom feeders.
Shark cage diving in Gansbaai is still a great option even with the decreased sightings of the great white shark. The bronze whaler and seven gill are apex predators and are some of the more commonly seen sharks.
Even with the decline in great white activity, people from all over the world still flock to the Overberg's gem to interact and learn about the new apex predators, the Bronze Whaler, and Seven Gill Cow shark.
This area caters for big groups. Typically, they take 20 to +-35 cage divers plus crew, which means the cages cater for up to 9 cage divers at any one time. The trip duration is between 2-3 hours (weather dependent). The most popular diving method used is breath-hold as the cages are surface cages and this allows the shark handlers to communicate directly with the guests and advise them in which direction the sharks are swimming and where to look.
There are nine operators working in this area and one can be confused as to which operator to book with. Ensure that you choose the best operator based on your specific requirements.
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Things you must do in South Africa
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