While we were in Bulungula, we met a guy who told us about Blue Wilderness. These guys specialize in shark diving. We already knew about a type of shark diving in Cape Town where you don’t really dive, you just have a mask and a snorkel, and they lower you just below the surface in a cage, while they dangle bait in front of you. The Great Whites come to chow down, and apparently it’s quite a show.
Blue Wilderness does something a little different. They let you actually scuba dive with the sharks. That means no cage. No protection. No sh*t. Tiger sharks are what they’re looking for here. They’re big. 8-10 meters and they have stripes like, you guessed it, a tiger. More abundant are Black Tips which are much smaller, and have black tips on their fins. There’s also Whale Sharks, which are as big as a…you get the picture.
Oddly enough, the thought of jumping into shark infested water didn’t seems that crazy to us. They’ve been doing this for 10 years without any accidents. We were also diving with Mark Thorpe, a National Geographic videographer, who’s been working on a documentary about tiger sharks for the last 3 months and has done the dive 30 times so far. More importantly, no one in the crew seemed to have any prosthetic limbs, so we took that as a good sign.
Now keep in mind Christine just learned to dive 4 months ago. Ditto for learning to swim. Before that, she had a great fear of the ocean, and especially of everything that lives in the ocean that’s not already been grilled and served with butter. So who’s the last person you’d expect to be jumping in the water with 50 sharks?
Mayhem is the best way to describe the scene under water. There’s sharks everywhere around you, above you, below you. When they swim at you, it’s quite startling. Especially the tigers. They almost always turn before they get to you, or if they get too close, they tell you to simply push them away. That’s right, with your own hands. Luckily there was no need for either of us to do that. We let the guys with the giant under water cameras in front of them handle it The sharks are obviously mostly interested in the bait buffet which gets refilled by a brave guy who free dives 10 meters down with just a mask and fins. And if that wasn’t enough, they are also tossing in sardines from the boat above you just to keep things hopping.
In all, there were 5 Tiger Sharks and about 50 Black Tips. Once back in the boat, they toss in some sardines at the surface so Mark could get some shots of the feeding frenzy. On the way back we spotted a few whale sharks which are like 20 meters long and very peaceful. The only eat plankton. They are quite a site to see under water.
In related news Roy Scheider, went into the deep blue this week.
Here’s some video of our dive. You can see me in there around 1:20.