Swimming with Sharks!

You’d think that being in a cage, in the middle of the ocean and being surrounded by sharks
would be the scene from a horror movie for most, but for Lucille and I it was a total bucket-
list moment!


It’s Saturday morning, 4am our alarms go off and if you’re like me, who is totally not a
morning person, waking up at that unearthly hour is what nightmares are made of. Without
snoozing my alarm I jumped out of bed, threw on my bikini, made myself and my partner,
Dean a cup of coffee and we hit the road. OMGEE, the excitement was real! We arrived in
Rocky Bay park, jumped out of our cars and straight into our wetsuits Shark Cage Diving
KZN supplied us with. We were introduced to the team: John Miller, who runs the show!
John is a scuba diving expert with 25 years of scuba diving experience, both diving with
sharks and diving coral reefs. John is also the captain of the boat and an under-water
photographer and divers, James, Brian and Bheki who have 40 years of experience
combined in the diving industry and working with sharks.
The FabTeam-mates: myself and Lucille, her husband Justin and Dean, all super excited
and ready to go, walked down to the beach to admire the sunrise. We helped John and his
fantastic team launch the 8.5-meter- long Dive Duck. It really takes an entire team to launch a
boat of that size into the ocean with the large steel SAMSA approved cage with floaties
attached to it. The cage is a concertina which opens up to 2.3m wide, 2.4m high and 1m in
breadth. These cages have been specifically designed by engineers for both diver and
animal safety.
We were briefed on safety on the boat and jumped aboard. Strapped in, life vests on and we
were on our way. After a 15-minute boat ride into the middle of the ocean, far beyond where
any swimmer can reach, approximately 5km in, we arrived at something John likes to call
“Shark Park”. John drove the boat in circles, revving the engine to alarm the sharks we were
there, the divers threw the bait drum into the water to entice the sharks, the water was
choppy and oh dear, I knew what was going to happen next. As a kid, growing up with
motion sickness has been a pain, from cars to planes, boats and trains, motion sickness
would get the better of me every time. You’d think by now I would have out grown it but I
guess the combination of the choppiness, the smell of the bait and seeing those shark fins
come out of the water for the very first time in my life made me ever so slightly ill. The team
were comforting reminding me that “what happens on the ocean, stays on the ocean”. I
guess I didn’t feel so bad anymore.
After a few minutes of in the water safety briefing, we donned our goggles and were ready.
Lucille and Justin decided that were going to do it properly. They opted for goggles, a
snorkel and flippers and decided to get IN the water, without a cage and swim with the
sharks. Brave much?

I slid into the cage, calmly, I surprised myself. The water was a comforting warm
temperature of 25 degrees. It was so airy being so far out in the middle of the ocean, in
these shark infested waters. Holding onto the cage with all fingers and toes, under the water
I went. Beautiful blacktip sharks, remora fish (otherwise known as suckerfish) and a few
dusky sharks too, surrounding me, wild, free and in their natural habitat. At least 10 sharks
varying in sizes, gracefully glided around the cage walls. I giggled to myself whilst
researching remora fish when writing this article. They’re fascinating creatures, they suck
onto sharks and are known as a sharks’ ‘sidekick’, they eat the scraps after the shark has
hunted their prey. These little guys have hung around sharks for thousands of years, it
serves as their protection and a free meal – BONUS!
I looked over to Dean who was in his absolute element, I don’t think I’ve ever seen (or heard)
him speechless before. From the cage, I could see Lucille and Justin getting into the water
so confidently and swimming around with their incredible diver who guided them through the
water, something the two of them have wanted to do for years. John with years of
experience, jumped into the water like it was his swimming pool at home, to take the
underwater photographs and GoPro videos of us, our evidence that we were brave enough
to get into these wild waters! After a 30-minute shark cage dive and swimming with the
sharks, we boarded back onto the boat filled with utter adrenalin and headed back to the
shore. We celebrated with a cup of coffee and shared our unbelievable experiences. John
and his team were fantastic, from start to finish, we felt safe, comfortable and that they knew
what they were doing. Shark Cage Diving KZN welcomes anyone from the age of 8 years
and up, no diving experience is required and non-swimmers are welcome too! Not only did I
get to dive with sharks, I learnt about all types of marine life and the importance of shark
conservation, it was an incredibly enlightening and educating experience. They offers you an
incredible one-on- one experience with some of the most fantastic creatures in the ocean,
with rare encountered spotting’s of the great white shark and humpback whales, you never
know what you’re going to see!
Overall, it was something I would do again in a heartbeat, with the help of some nausea
tablets. LOL. Being able to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most
dangerous creatures in their natural, wild habitat and totally appreciating the beauty of a
shark is indescribable. This was something that will easily go down as one of the coolest
things I have done in my life to date.

“Diving amongst the sharks, no cage, no safety is nerve-wrecking! Our adrenalin was
pumping at high volumes. We held onto each other with our guide on the other side of us
which gave us a sense of security. This was the most phenomenal experience diving
amongst ocean predators. Looking a shark in the eyes is a once in a lifetime experience.
Definitely a bucket list moment! “ –  Justin & Lucille Wendler
Fun fact #: What’s older than sharks? Almost nothing! Sharks have been swimming in the
ocean for more than 400 million years! They have survived 5 massive planet extinction
events!

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