When I came face to face with sharks in Durban

It’s my first morning in South Africa and I’m almost exploding with giddiness. After all it’s the day I tick off my final bucket checklist journey of getting up shut with the sharks. Me and a bunch of journey writers have been booked for a shark cage diving exercise at Aliwal Shoal in Durban. On the three hour drive from our resort in Zimbali to the dive web site I attempt to maintain calm and never to consider the film Jaws, the place a shark savages a cage tearing it aside. But that’s simpler stated than accomplished.  



The journey begins with squeezing right into a wetsuit. I could have constructed some arm muscle mass gasping between tugs to yank my wetsuit over my posterior. It’s exhausting but in addition devastating after I verify myself within the mirror. I seem like a seal. Imagine dressing just like the shark’s favorite meals on a shark cage diving journey!

We then march in the direction of the ocean for a quick introductory speak by scuba diving professional John Miller earlier than being fitted with life jackets. Soon we’re piled on to the boat and off we go 8 km into the ocean. My coronary heart is racing as we deal with gigantic wave after wave sitting on the sting of the pontoon whereas gripping a rope for stability. The climate was not tremendous cooperative. Though it was deceptively sunny, the excessive winds made the ocean so uneven that our boat experience appears like a curler coaster with out seat belts! My co-divers had already began to get sick and shortly it was a puke fest! After about 10 minutes (however what felt like a lifetime) of all of the drama of pounding waves, remorselessly beating the boat back and forth the terrifying experience involves an finish and I can breathe simple. This can be when the boat begins to scent fishy. Literally! That’s as a result of John and his teammates are busy hurling sardines into the water to draw the sharks.   


A metal cage is then launched into the water and we had been invited to leap proper in. Soon it was my flip. The feeling proper earlier than you get into the cage won’t ever fade. The water, by the best way, was chilly. But I used to be so excited concerning the prospect of seeing a shark face-to-face that I barely felt it.

Once contained in the cage we had been instructed to carry on to the lid of the cage, take a deep breath and put our head below the water. “The sharks are not in the sky, you need to put your head under the water to see them,” screams John. My pranayama practise comes useful as I take an enormous gulp of air and dive within the water whereas holding on to the bar. And then I let my guard down, loosen up and benefit from the sensation of the burden of the ocean above and round me, and the gradual move of the present deep beneath the floor.


Just then with no warning I catch a motion, the faintest shimmer, the softest glint of white enamel and an agile, highly effective physique. Could it actually be? Yes it’s a shark with its jaws agape. The one I’ve waited and braved a dying defying boat experience swims into my view. My heartbeat, so calm solely a second in the past, is raging in my ears because the shark slowly weaves itself round our cage. And she is just not alone however accompanied by a tiny child shark that’s clinging to her stomach. What a sight! Knowing the ability she possessed and watching her swim by so calmly was each nerve wracking and exhilarating. Soon there have been many extra. While some swam lazily across the cage, a number of curious ones paid a more in-depth go to. Their method was at all times measured, cautious, completely befitting an apex predator of such unbelievable majesty, and wholly opposite to the sensationalist clips on TV.


The good factor is, though the sharks can scent and see us they’ll’t get by means of the slender bars. For me, probably the most unbelievable a part of the expertise was a shark that glided peacefully across the cage virtually prefer it knew me. It was poetic and nature at its most interesting. After about half an hour of being within the water we had been pulled again into the boat.  

The adrenaline was nonetheless working excessive after we made our method again to shore. This time the ocean was calmer, the boisterous waves had diminished, the wind ceased its howling and the stability of the boat was restored. A sizzling cup of tea was ready as additionally a pen drive with proof of our journey below the ocean. John additionally gave a quick on what we noticed that morning — oceanic blacktip sharks (which look similar to the nice white aside from a black mark on the dorsal fin), tiger and bull sharks and the very distinctive hammerhead shark.


As I clambered into our automobile exhausted and comfortable, I felt a larger appreciation for sharks. They are usually not the menacing man-eating machines they’re made out to be. They are stunning, highly effective beings that demand our admiration and respect. And I used to be comfortable to share the house of some of those majestic creatures. If just for half-hour!

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