When I got here head to head 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 lodge in Zimbali to the dive web site I attempt to preserve calm and never to consider the film Jaws, the place a shark savages a cage tearing it aside. But that’s simpler mentioned than finished.  



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

We then march in direction of the ocean for a short introductory speak by scuba diving skilled 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 sort out gigantic wave after wave sitting on the sting of the pontoon whereas gripping a rope for steadiness. The climate was not tremendous cooperative. Though it was deceptively sunny, the excessive winds made the ocean so uneven that our boat experience seems 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 backward and forward the terrifying experience involves an finish and I can breathe simple. This can be when the boat begins to odor 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 have 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 way in which, was chilly. But I used to be so excited in regards to the prospect of seeing a shark face-to-face that I barely felt it.

Once contained in the cage we have been instructed to carry on to the lid of the cage, take a deep breath and put our head underneath 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, chill out and benefit from the sensation of the burden of the ocean above and round me, and the gradual circulation of the present deep beneath the floor.


Just then with out a warning I catch a motion, the faintest shimmer, the softest glint of white tooth 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 demise 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 shouldn’t be alone however accompanied by a tiny child shark that’s clinging to her stomach. What a sight! Knowing the facility 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, just a few curious ones paid a better go to. Their method was at all times measured, cautious, completely befitting an apex predator of such unimaginable majesty, and wholly opposite to the sensationalist clips on TV.


The good factor is, regardless that the sharks can odor and see us they’ll’t get by way of the slender bars. For me, probably the most unimaginable 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 best. After about half an hour of being within the water we have been pulled again into the boat.  

The adrenaline was nonetheless operating 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 steadiness of the boat was restored. A scorching cup of tea was ready as additionally a pen drive with proof of our journey underneath the ocean. John additionally gave a short on what we noticed that morning — oceanic blacktip sharks (which look similar to the nice white apart 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 completely satisfied, I felt a larger appreciation for sharks. They are usually not the menacing man-eating machines they’re made out to be. They are lovely, highly effective beings that demand our admiration and respect. And I used to be completely satisfied to share the house of some of those majestic creatures. If just for half-hour!

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