In the United States we have a week long documentary program on the Discovery Channel called Shark Week. It’s starts on July 5th and runs for seven days. Somehow all of my stars lined up and July 5th found me standing on a cold beach an hour away from Durban in a wetsuit launching a boat into the ocean with three other cabin crew.
On the flight over , most of the crew called us insane, after all, who willingly gets in a cage with sharks? Only crazy people obviously!
It makes sense that the talk of the Galley was about fear. The two girls that went with me confessed that they were afraid of sharks and the recent string of attacks off the Eastern coast of America had them unsettled. My Polish colleague who also joined us talked about a fear of drowning. Needless to say, I was a little more than apprehensive when we all agreed.
That we would cast caution to the wind and embark on this crazy adventure! I’m not scared of sharks, I respect them. I also grew up in and around water. When we were young, my parents called my brother and I tadpoles because we lived in the pool the entire summer. So it wasn’t the fear of the denizens of the deep that had me apprehensive but my fear of being in the open water. I couldn’t even talk about my own fear out loud, because the thought of not being unable to see the shoreline made my breath catch in my throat. It’s an unexplainable fear I’ve had for as long as I could remember, fear of being left in open water.
Fast forward to July 5th. We woke up at 5am and met downstairs a short time later. Half asleep and nervous we were quiet the entire drive. It didn’t start to sink in that we were actually doing this until we stood in the ladies room trying to zip up our wetsuits. All three of us were shaking so hard we had to assist each other. We stepped outside and one of the gentleman working on the beach began to laugh at our faces. He called out in a thick accent that did nothing to assuage our fears, “Ladies smile! You are so petite the sharks would still be hungry after eating you! They will go for the big men, more meat on the bones, yes?!” Surprisingly. this put a smile on our faces and wiped the smiles off the faces of the men.
Much like the manual demonstrations done on an aircraft, we listened intently to a safety talk fromCaptain John about how to sit on a boat, how to fasten our life vest, and the dos and donts of being in the dive cage.
The most difficult part was launching the boat, I’ve never done anything like this but our Captain and his team were excellent and shortly after we were all in the boat and ready to go.
Once we reached our site one of the shark crew started to chum the water and fins immediately began to slice through the surface. One of the girls sitting next to me held my hand and closed her eyes. I just kept saying, “Don’t worry we can do this! It’s going to be awesome! People are friends, not food!”
I would like to take a moment and talk about how grateful I am to Captain John. He knew how scared I was without me having to say a single word. He told me to go in last and held my hand as I entered the cage. When he let go, I panicked briefly. All I could think about was open water, no shore in site. I’ve dealt with enough passengers hyperventilating to realize that my breathing too fast and I needed to get it under control right away. Captain John saw this and called out to me, “Go under, go under! Just take a look!” As I clung to those words, I took a deep breath and forced my head under the dusky water.
Instantly the fear was wiped away like it had never existed in the first place. Under the water it was calm and serene. It’s an entirely different world under the surface. The sharks were swimming with remoras attached to their silver gray skin while may others were struggling to keep up behind them. They brushed the cage quietly and gracefully. Sharp eyes took in these foreign creatures that were trespassing in their waters.
Giant yellow fish swam beside them completely regardless of the sharks, their bodies undulated to a hidden rhythm. I surfaced with a giant gasping breath and called out to the Captain, “It’s beautiful, it’s so beautiful!” And immediately dove down again. Whether it was from my own tears of wonder or the salty ocean water in my mask, I was still able to clearly see a wide smile on Captin Johns face.
Over and over we dove beneath the surface struggling to take everything in and fight against our bodies need for oxygen.
When it was finally time to leave this wild adventure we left with a knowledge that sharks are incredible creatures, deadly and beautiful in their own rights. When you step into the ocean, you step into their homes. Yes they attack, but it’s not out of malice. They are actually naturally timid creatures, they are curious about why you are in their ocean; what are you doing in their home.
We left with a healthy knowledge that sharks and many of the creatures we saw that day are racing extinction. We understood sadly, that if we don’t stop our useless, destructive nature many species are doomed for extinction. If man doesn’t stop cutting shark fins off for soup and killing for our own vanity, then this species could disappear entirely. When that happens, we would only have ourselves to blame.
Shark Cage Diving KZN seeks to not only entertain but to educate its explorers about these beautiful creatues by giving you a first hand look at what many call the worlds deadliest creatures. I can tell you it was one of the most fascinating and moving experiences I have ever participated in. I can highly recommend Captain John’s team at Shark Cage Diving KZN to guide you the adventure of a lifetime! To reach Captain John Miller you can text or call: +00 27 (82) 3735950 or drop an email to this address: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org