Swimming With Sharks

Just off the coast of Mossel Bay, South Africa there is a great white shark population that calls the bay home. You might be able to tell by just looking at the surface but they are there.

Now, any sane person would tell you that you should not venture out into the water since the sharks live there, but I am not a very sane person. I told myself that I needed to do this in order to cross a few things off the old bucket list and to make sure I made the most out of my time in Africa.

I know what you are thinking right now and trust me I was thinking it too. Is it scary? It’s not scary. It’s just not. You jump into a cage secured off the side of an anchored boat and the seasoned shark divers bring out the chum and bring the sharks to you. You are completely safe, that is, if you keep your hands and arms inside the cage at all times. If you don’t then you shouldn’t even be near the boat or any boat for that matter.

Waiting for the sharks to come is the worst part. The shark guys chum the water to bring the sharks to you and it could be minutes or it could be hours before a shark shows up but once they do, it’s go time.

Once in the water, everything else fades away. Nothing else seems to matter. Not the bills, the sunburn on your neck, or the fact that you’re about to jump into the water with one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. All that matters is seeing the shark. When the spotter yells “DOWN!” and the direction from which the shark is coming that’s when things get exciting.

Pushing and holding your body underwater while you’re wearing a wet suit is not easy but it’s worth it when you see the shark charging the tuna head and, on some occasions, the shark thrashes at and rattles the cage as well as your bones. The thrill of being mere inches away from an apex predator made me laugh with excitement and I wanted to go under again and again to see the magnificent animal on its terms.

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