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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Where to Swim with Sharks in Africa

Where to Swim with Sharks in Africa

Shark Alley in Gansbaai South Africa is the Great White Shark capital of the world where shark cage diving is regulated and the African Cape Fur Seal is in abundant supply as food. 

Swimming with the sharks in Gansbaai South Africa

Regulations and Explanation of South Africa Great White Shark Cage Diving Adventure

In the safety of a cage, Gansbaai is world known for face-to-face diving with sharks that are quite possibly the world's most feared creatures. Around 2 hours southeast of Cape Town lays the small fishing village of Gansbaai South Africa.

Where to Swim with Sharks in South Africa

Great white shark diving is a popular and valuable adventure tourism activity in many regions around the world with an estimated local economy ranging from S1.3 to 18 million US dollars. 

The Great white shark diving has developed in five main regions around the world' California, Mexico, South Africa, South Australia, and New Zealand. In South Africa, great white shark diving began in 1991 and was an unregulated activity until a policy was introduced in July 2008. 

The Gansbaai coastline houses the Marine Big Five due to large populations of sharks, seals, dolphins, penguins, and whales that thrive in the waters. 

Gansbaai South Africa is also home to Shark Alley which is residence to one of the largest populations of great white sharks in the world. Shark Alley is a narrow channel of water that runs between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock in South Africa.

What is the Great White Sharks Favorite Meal?

The legendary great white shark should fear humans more than humans should fear great white sharks. Great whites are the largest predatory fish on Earth. They grow to an average of 15 feet or 4.6 meters in length. Great white sharks are attracted to the shores on Dyer Island due to a colony of 58,000 Cape Fur Seals who breed on the shoreline from May to August. Cape Fur Seals are a favorite food for great white sharks.

Cape fur seals are the largest member of the Southern fur seals class with the southern African species being heavier than average. Males grow to an average length of 7 feet weighing up to 650 pounds. Females are slightly smaller with an average length of 5 feet 9 inches weighing up to 260 pounds. No wonder South African fur seals are a favorite food of the Gansbaai great white shark.

Great white sharks are one of the few species of sharks known to bite and kill people; however, these events are exceptionally uncommon.  People on the other hand capture many great white sharks through fishing, used as trophies and accidental catches using nets, this is the reason great white sharks are considered to be vulnerable to extinction in the wild.

The Great White Shark is currently protected in two African countries, South Africa and Namibia. Protective laws are strict, but loopholes and inadequate enforcement causes problems including promoting the black-market for high-value Great White Shark products including jaws, teeth, and fins. 

In South Africa, offers of US$20,000-$50,000 have been made for great white shark jaws and US$600-$800 for individual teeth according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List.

The Number One Rule for Cage Diving with Great White Sharks

The area around Dyer Island and Shark Alley is a popular tourist destination for shark cage diving. Diving outside the cage can only be done with a permit for research or filming purposes. Great White Sharks are curious and readily approach boats, scavenge from anglers' nets or longlines and devour hooked fish. 

Cage diving with sharks has become a popular sport over the years. The adrenaline rush of being caged and floating within inches of a great white shark's powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth is an adrenaline rush.

In order to attract great white sharks, cage diving experts never entice the sharks on, over or too close to a dive cage. This is a number one safety rule violation. South Africa's National Department of Environmental Affairs regulations in part state that ethical sustainable behavior must be observed at all times by permit holders, crews and tourists. 

The Department monitors great white shark diving company permit in order to monitor the practices of the eco-tourism industry conservation of great white sharks.

Great White Shark cage diving

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