While we were in Cape Town, South Africa last May, we had the absolute pleasure of partnering with Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Conservation Trust to go Great White Shark Diving in Gaansbai (the Great White Shark capital of the world). We caught up with Tammi, our on-board marine biologist, who told us a little bit about their work, their procedures, and the initiatives they take to not only protect and conserve the animals and their environment, but to educate their visitors as well.
Great Whites are truly magnificent creatures; somehow so elusive despite their size. Their presence in the water commands respect, and the way they move in ocean – quietly and swiftly but with the ability to harness incredible power with the flick of a tail – was mesmerizing to witness. It was a great experience to see these creatures up close, because it truly gives context to the animal outside of what you hear/see in movies and the media outlets that sensationalize their character and behavior in order to evoke fear. It proves that they aren’t out terrorize people, and that while they are perfectly evolved to reign as top predators of the food chain within their environment, they are also simply trying to survive, just like us.
According to an article on National Geographic, 100 million sharks are killed every year due to man-induced issues such as overfishing and hunting for shark fin soup. But if you listen closely to Tammi (she has a lot of helpful information to share), she and many other biologists like her presume the real number is actually greater than that, all factors considered. This shocking information pretty quickly makes you realize that they need far more protection from us than we do from them.
We suggest this experience for everyone, just make sure you do it with responsible/ethical companies like Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Helpful note: they’ll pick you up from Cape Town and shuttle you to/from Gaansbai for a day trip. They can also shuttle from other locations, just make sure to confirm with them, but it is important to note that you don’t necessarily already have to be in Gaansbai to dive with them. Pls visit www.sharkwatchsa.com to learn more about Marine Dynamics, and make sure you check them out if you’re ever in Cape Town or surrounding areas!
If you want to further your learning about sharks, their various environments, their behavioral patterns, and the threats they face, “Shark” by Brian Skerry (pictured on the right) is a fantastic resource. We picked up a copy and we blew through its pages, thanks to the incredible imagery, and the amazing storytelling abilities of Brian and his fellow conservationists. Pick up a copy on his website, you won’t regret it!