Gansbaai is a pretty fishing village, near Hermanus, with a small human population, and an extremely large shark population. In fact, Gansbaai has made a name for itself as the best place in the world for shark cage diving, offering the highest chance of multiple encounters and crystal clear, warm waters. While a number of shark varieties inhabit the waters around Gansbaai, it is the fearsome great white that is attracted to the area in massive numbers. They are lured (and kept) there for most of the year by the large seal population that inhabits nearby Dyer Island. Dyer Island is one of many seal colonies along the Western Cape coastline, and it is these colonies that maintain the Western Cape’s extremely high number of great whites.
Best Time of Year for Shark Cage Diving
The best time of year for shark cage diving is usually between May and October (the colder months in the Southern hemisphere). However, great whites can usually be seen at all times of the year, and are sometimes attracted to beaches by the activity there during summer.
The most popular area in South Africa for shark cage diving takes place just of the coast of the small town of Gansbaai approximately a 2-3 hour drive from Cape Town. A professional diving boat takes visitors out to the actual diving spots near the Geyser and Dyer islands as these areas are in close proximity to large seal colonies, a great attraction for the Great Whites. Due to this location, you are just about guaranteed a ‘Great’ sighting.
Shark cage diving allows you to enter the world of these incredible marine animals from the safety of the cage you enter alongside the boat. The Great White sharks are able to swim close by without harming their watchful guests. Wetsuits are provided as the water is more than often too cold to go without.
It should be noted that great whites will seldom if ever, attack humans – even though they can be seen from helicopters swimming among the surfers almost every day. They tend not to mistake humans for their food and don’t like to get too close to shore for long in case they become stranded. That being said, the oceans around Gansbaai have been the Great White’s natural habitat for millions of years, and you have been warned.
Concerns About Shark Cage Diving
In recent years the shark diving industry has been the subject of some public outcry. The claim is that shark diving encourages sharks to look to humans for their food, and so this increases the frequency of attacks. In reality, there have been no studies performed to either confirm or deny this, but attacks have been no more frequent than since record-keeping began.
Supporters of shark cage diving claim that it helps to educate people about sharks and raise awareness of the fact that sharks are endangered, and need our protection. Money from shark cage diving enriches local communities and business people, and shark tourism is the only form of income for many locals.