Two Oceans Aquarium: Shark Diving Cape Town, no cage, no fuss.
Shark diving and in particular shark cage diving has become very popular in South Africa in the last few years. The controversy is that some people are linking the increased chumming of waters (blood and fish guts) to increased shark attacks on our shores. Diving in cages is also a whole day affair, including boats, waves and potentially vomit. While they may not be an alternative to seeing a Great White gnashing through bars to get to your face, on land there is another option which may suffice.
On our wedding anniversary, for reasons unknown, Sarah gave me a ticket to dive with the sharks at the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. This is done in the huge central tank, without a cage and for all patrons to see, much like the Coliseum.
The largest (3-4 meters) and most menacing looking sharks in the tank go by Ragged Tooth or Grey Nurse sharks, (I prefer the second name). These sharks are known to be “reasonably gentle”, but do make up a decent percentage of local shark attacks and some fatalities. Its “placid” reputation due to the ferocity of the initial attack, which compared to the Great White, Zambezi or Tiger shark is lacking chutzpah. Usually just leaving some stitchable puncture wounds.
Before the dive, we (3 of us) were briefed on what our movements would be, and a crash course in shark etiquette. Which included not swimming along-side or directly above the large sharks, in case they’re teensie brains forget that they’re not starving wild animals and take a pot-shot. For safety, the guide would dive with us and carry a stick for protection, which by the look of it had seen plentiful teething action. On this point I must add that guide told us the sharks were only fed weekly, at 3:30pm on a Sunday. My dive was coincidentally booked for 14:30! and ’twas the sabbath, so I checked my gear for any planted fish guts or suicide notes.
The dive itself went swimmingly and I managed to find a tooth on the bottom to give to Talulah (my daughter). There were a few hairy moments, when I definitely felt my position on the food chain to be in question, but all in all it was great fun and it was nice to be on the other side of the glass for a change. The dives are reasonable charged and includes the divers gear plus admission into the aquarium, although spineless and murderous spectators are duly taxed for watching.