During the summer of 2012 we spent 11 days in Africa. Four of those eleven days were in Cape Town, South Africa. The city is known for gorgeous mountain views, a thriving wine region, surfing and sharks! We booked our dive, but it almost didn’t happen due to weather. We refused to take “no” for an answer and drove 3 hours just to get in the water with these giants.
If I’m honest, there are plenty of reasons why you should NOT get in the water with sharks: they can be unpredictable, they can hurt you and, possibly the most important, we (humans) can hurt them. However, if you choose a company who is more interested in protecting the species than profiting from them, you will get an experience sharks as they should be – in the wild, in their natural habitat and doing what they do, naturally.
When I started writing this post the title was “10 Reasons to Get in the Ocean with Sharks.” I couldn’t think of 10 reasons, so I changed it to 5, and then to 3. There are some reasons that can’t be put into words, at least not by a novice writer like myself. But I bet most of you are thinking “How did she even come up with one reason?” But keep reading, maybe I can convince you!
1. If you swim with sharks you feel like a bad-ass when you tell your friends. Seriously, watch the faces of your family, friends and colleagues when you tell them you have stared into the black eyes of a shark from underwater. They might think you are a little crazy, but deep down they are jealous. Maybe they are jealous that you have had the experience, but more than likely, they are jealous that you had the guts to get in the water in the first place.
2. If you get into the water with sharks you can stare fear in the eyes, literally. Facing your fears is a powerful feeling. Turning and facing a fear can give you hope, strength, pride and motivation. Michael and I are in and on the ocean a lot; we are constantly swimming, snorkeling, diving, catching lobster, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. The chance of me encountering a shark is high, very high. It has already happened for both of us. Even though we are in their habitat, it is still surprising and shocking to see a fin close to you. It is scary for me. So, getting to face my fear of the biggest and most fierce animal in the ocean (from behind the safety of a steel cage) was beneficial for me. I still feel my heart skip a beat when I see a dorsal fin, but now it is out of a respect for the power and presence, not an irrational fear.
3. Number two brings me easily to the last reason you should swim with sharks – diving with sharks can help develop a sense of personal responsibility to protect them. Getting really, really close to these animals, close enough to touch them (even though I didn’t), was an eye-opening experience. They were no longer these monsters that Hollywood portrays and Shark Week perpetuates. They are just curious, wild animals. Wild animals that humans are killing in too many ways. We are killing them for sport – fishing. We are killing them for food – but only using their fins and wasting the rest of the body. We are killing them for science – medical research. We are killing them as a result of ocean pollution. I am confident humans kill more sharks than they us each year. Cage diving put a face and a name to this beautiful creature that I once saw as a “thing.” I now care about their prosperity and protection, as we all should.
Here is your take away:Yes, cage diving with sharks is something that you should do. But, only if you want to feel like a bad-ass capable of respecting and protecting this amazingly adaptable, powerful and beautiful creature! Easy enough, right?