Episode 107: “The Big Six”

E107:  “The Big Six”

Scott and Ellis visit South Africa to face their fears and brave some of the most notorious shark-filled waters in the world.  Disaster strikes on what should have been an easy dive.

Special thanks to the organizations that helped make our trip possible:

South African Airways

Saxon Lodge

Gansbaai Tourism Bureau

Marine Dynamics

Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Aquila Private Game Reserve

African Watersports / The Shoal Dive Centre

Civair Adventure

Episode Commentary:

Scott:  South Africa is a lot different from the rest of Africa that I’ve seen.  Perhaps most obvious is the fact that, no matter where you go in South Africa, you are never that far away from water.  Slammed constantly by two oceans, its jagged coastline of cold Atlantic water slowly transitions to a much more gentle and warm Indian coastline to the east.  This allows for two completely different diving worlds within one country.  If you’re not a surfer, there is only one other reason to brave the cold currents around Cape Town and that’s to dive with shark.  

I think the thing that blew me away the most about the Great Whites is how calm and controlled they appear to be.  The only reason we’ve seen footage of them gnawing away at cages with divers inside is because they have been baited to do so.  The process now is still to use a bait (of sorts) but it’s not to alter their behaviour as much as it is to play on their curiosity and to observe and learn more about them.  I feel it is much better that tourists are leaving with a thrill, a respect and a good photo of a shark than it is to be leaving with a totally inaccurate portrayal, and a shark tooth or fin souvenir from killing them.  The sharks are now starting to be viewed as more valuable alive than dead.  It’s about time.

Ellis:  I was genuinely scared diving into the middle of a feeding frenzy of sharks.  But the moment I splashed beneath the water I could see that they meant us no harm.  For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with sharks.  To see one up close is truly an incredible experience, only compared in the above water world, to coming within arm’s reach of a lion in the wild, or similar.  Once you have seen the sleek powerful grace of a shark up close you would never want to catch or kill one – yet we drag them by their millions, from the oceans, every year.  I believe sharks are greatly misunderstood.  My dream is to one day swim openly with a Great White shark.

Photos:

Waiting...

Ellis finds a shark tooth souvenir

Scott keeping a watchful eye on the Oceanic Blacktip Sharks.

 

Ellis's "anti-shark", pink fins

Diving the "Produce" shipwreck