Sunday, May 9, 2010


THE GOOD-The van picked us up for the drive to Simonstown where the boat was waiting to take us out on the quest to see some great white sharks. The sunrise was absolutely glorious.

A large pod of dolphins put on a show for us as the boat headed to Seal Island.

THE BAD-Once we got to Seal Island where 60,000 seals live, a seal decoy was put in the water and dragged behind the boat hoping to see a shark breach, but nothing. It was at this point I began to wonder if we would see any sharks. They attract the sharks by putting a large piece of tuna on two different lines (no hooks), one that is connected to a float so it is visible from the surface and one connected to a sinker so it is submerged. The decoy is also put out by the floating bait. Then we waited. I had visions of sharks eagerly fighting for the bait and coming up out of the water as they did so, like you see on the TV shows, but there was little interest and aggression today. It seemed as if the sharks weren’t too

Everybody was getting a little bored, and we weren’t paying close attention to the bait when all of a sudden, Chris, the captain, yelled shark. She appeared so silently and so quickly, that Jim didn’t have time to take a picture. She rolled on her side as she grabbed for the floating bait, then disappeared. She appeared just under the surface on the other side of the boat, than was gone. Several minutes later Chris pointed to the bow of the boat-about 100 yards ahead, near the island, we saw the dorsal fin and tail fin of a four meter shark scavenging on a dead seal. After a few minutes she was gone. Chris had the first couple get into the cage, and we all waited...and waited. After about 45 minutes the couple was getting cold, so they pulled them out, and we waited... Finally another shark showed up and they put the next couple into the cage. They were able to see one shark underwater while they were in. A couple of friends got in next, and while they were in a smaller shark and one larger one swam by, which they were able to see.

It was at this point I decided to try my luck and go into the cage (I wasn’t going to do it and hang out in cold water until I was confident I would see a shark). After putting the wetsuit on, which was a feat to accomplish, I sat at the bow waiting for my turn. As my family well knows, I am not the one prone to motion sickness in this family-that talent belongs to Jim, so he put a scopolimine patch on before we left. Earlier, they fed us small sandwiches while we waited, and I eagerly ate one, but later began to think it might have been a mistake. As I sat waiting for my turn, wishing I hadn’t eaten the sandwich, I soon realized it was time for me to lean over the railing and add some chum to the water. Once I did, I felt so much better, and was ready to get into the cage with my underwater camera. It was a little bit of a shock as I hit the water and small amounts of water seeped in through the zipper and up my ankles and wrists, but I settled in and waited...

THE UGLY-Suddenly the crew yelled, “Shark!”, and I pulled myself under the water with the camera aimed, as she silently she swam by. You can’t say she was cute–magnificent, but definitely not cute.

She never attacked the bait, but she obliged me by swimming by a couple of times and letting me get a couple of pictures. I felt like I could have reached out and touched her she was so close. Then she was gone. We waited a little longer, but to no avail. It was time to return to Simonstown, so I was pulled out of the cage.

I was grateful we got to see the sharks we saw, but disappointed they weren’t more aggressive and visible.

The van took us back to the ship where we hung out for the rest of the afternoon before departing. Jim got some good pictures of Table Mountain. Shortly after 5 PM the ship pulled away from the dock and headed for the open sea.

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