Swimming with Great Whites

Argentina was calling and the motorcycle trip had come to a successful conclusion, but before I could leave I had an appointment with a great white shark.

Before I left Canada I had been in contact with a tour company that went on excursions that gave boneheads like me a chance to actually get in the water with those fearsome beasts. The idea isn’t much unlike a zoo, except the humans were in the cage.

The day started with a hotel pick up at 4:00 in the morning. Yes, 4:00. Then about a 2 1/2 hour drive to the launch point.

And the wind was howling. I wondered if we’d even get on the water.

Once arrived at the launch point, a safety briefing took place – keep fingers & toes in the cage please – and shortly after that we were on our way.

There were 17 of us. The cage holds 6 at a time, so we’d go in 2 sets if 6 and one set if 5. I was in the second set if 6.

We didn’t have to wait long to see, from the boat, an ominous black shadow emerge from the deep. Now, the viewing from the boat was better than from underwater because the high winds stirred up a lot of murky water (and one poor passenger’s breakfast). Still, I was keen to get in the water.

Even with a thick wetsuit the water was COLD! But that was soon forgotten when a deckhand dragging a piece of fix carcass across the side of the boat hollered, “Shark, 12:00!”

And there it was. A growing grey shape, sliding effortlessly through the water. A flash of impossibly sharp teeth taking part of the carcass with him, then he was gone. For a while. Back again to show off his masses of teeth and slow, easy swimming. Gone again. Back again.

I didn’t find out until later that there were actually at least 3 sharks, maybe 4, circling the boat.

Too soon I had to get out of the water so others could see.

After a good 2 1/2 hours on the water out was time to make the journey back to Cape Town.

I spent much of the rest of the day meandering slowly around the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront when an interesting cloud formation caught my eye.

On Table Mountain, a cloudbank was pouring off the top, looking much like a slow-motion waterfall. I brought my camera to my eye, then luckily caught the South African flag from a boat into my field of view.

I saw it as a fitting visual end to my South African adventure.

I will miss this place.

Early the next morning I’m on an 11-hour flight to Argentina…

Yes, their dorsal fin actually does pierce the water.

Yes, their dorsal fin actually does pierce the water.

Poor visibility, but you can just make out the shark's open jaw.

Poor visibility, but you can just make out the shark’s open jaw.

C-C-C-COLD! But saw it, up close and personal.

C-C-C-COLD! But saw it, up close and personal.

Farewell, South Africa. Buia danke.

Farewell, South Africa. Buia danke.


3 thoughts on “Swimming with Great Whites

  1. Marlene Rudder Rogovin says:

    I am loving traveling with you even though it is just vicariously!
    Arthur and I loved South Africa and still count it as our best adventure..
    It was so great meeting you and now I will follow along with you and your adventures.

  2. Michelle says:

    EEEK! I think I’d wet my wetsuit seeing a great white that close.

  3. sandy says:

    Wow!! What an experience…now I can say I know what is like to swim with sharks…without ever having to actually swim with sharks myself!! And what an amazing picture as the clouds roll in!! Once again, thanks for sharing Morgan…

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