Today was the pinnacle of Ryan and Eric’s Extreme Adventure in Africa. They were going shark diving! (With all of the special activities on this trip we figure we don’t have to buy Christmas or birthday presents for Ryan through at least 2025.)
One of the first things Ryan told us in Lusaka was that one of his dreams was to go diving with the sharks, that he knew it was a long shot but it’s something he always wanted to do. Our motto has always been “experiences, not things,” which is why we still have a projection TV (actually no TV at all here in Zambia), a 16-year-old jet ski, and a 1989 vehicle that we share between us in Lusaka . (And why the kids have been to Costa Rica, the Serengeti, Jamaica, Mexico, Hawaii, Europe, etc. In addition to these family vacations, Thom and I took each boy on an alone trip when they were growing up to wherever they wanted to go in the world. I went to China and Korea with Alex, to the Galapagos with Kevin, and with Ryan, well, because he said he didn’t like long plane rides he chose to go to…drum roll…Venice Beach, California.) Anyways, we said, son, we won’t be getting you any clothes or CDs or things for your birthday or Christmas this year, because you’re going shark diving!
Ryan and Eric were picked up at our hotel at 6.30 am by the Shark Adventures van. Now I’m still adjusting to this empty nest thing so the night before I started to set my alarm for 6 am so I could make sure the boys were up and ready to go. Then, I thought, wait, these guys are 21 years old, they live on their own, they don’t need mommy to wake them up, so I said, guys, the van will be out front at 6.30 am, have fun and we’ll see you when you get back tomorrow night. I went to bed and woke up at 6.30 am sharp, realizing I had forgotten to give Ryan the ginger tablets for motion sickness! (BTW, ginger tablets work better than anything for motion sickness with no side effects). I leapt out of bed, rushed to the window, just in town to see our very responsible young men climb into the tour van. (Thinking to myself, wow! They really can meet deadlines and make commitments on time on their own! Woo-hoo!) Fortunately, that evening Ryan said they had no problem with motion sickness so they didn’t even need the tablets.
According to the guys, they drove about 1.5 hours to the boat launch site at Kleinbaai Harbor, near Gansbaai. They were served breakfast and then took off for Shark Alley, home to the greatest concentration of Great White Sharks anywhere on the planet! On the boat, the first thing they did was don wet suits. Sharkwatch provided everything – wetsuits, towels, head gear, meals, drinks, etc.
Once in Shark Alley the guides threw out chum and the seal decoy to attract the Great Whites. Soon enough, the big boys came a-gliding.
Next, everyone took turns going down in the shark cage in groups of seven. The cages were about three feet deep, and about 10 feet long, so everyone was lined up in a row. They were told to keep their hands and feet inside the cage, and that if something floated out of the cage, to just let it go. (Don’t you hate unsolicited advice? Always makes me want to do the opposite.)
Divers stayed down about 20 minutes at a time and everyone had the opportunity to go down multiple times if they wanted.
You can see here how the shark guides would use the bait and decoy to get the sharks to swim right in front of the dive cage.
After everyone had their fill of sharks, they motored over to Geyser Island, home to 40,000 tasty morsels, aka Cape Fur Seals.
The water is shallower here so up to a point, the seals can swim safely. It’s just when they venture too far out they become dinner.
Ryan and Eric came home on a nature trip high. They said it was totally worth doing, that it was the trip of a lifetime, and that they felt safer inside that shark cage than they had any other time during their Africa trip.