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The Silent Beauty

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bluecape

Well-Known Member
Apr 21, 2003
574
164
83
Hi all

Day before yesterday, I posted a short piece under 'Meeting with Royalty', about what I was hoping would be a potential first ever 'meeting' with a great white.

Yesterday, about 45 minutes after leaving Gansbaai harbour, we arrived in 'shark alley', a channel between the point and Dyer island. Rozzier, our skipper, placed a small amount of fish oil in the water, and threw out a piece of rope with a yellowfin Tuna carcass tied on, we threw anchor...and waited. Unlike Africa's Lion or elephant, we cannot look for the great White...he must come to look for us. In the silence, with just a rythmic slap-slap of the swell against the hull, we lay back and waited. At this time of year, moving toward summer, the peak season has gone, and the chances are we will see nothing all day. The sun gets hotter by the minute, and as I stare outwards over the emerald blue towards the tiny houses dotted on land, I cannot help to feel that I may go home dissapointed today, for after all, I do want this so badly.

Then it happens, Rozziers voice, quietly and calmly, .." Here she comes people...here she comes..." I lept up from my daydream, just in time to see an enourmous black shadow sliding towards us, approaching from our port side, about 2 meters below the surface. My mind screamed to find a word, a description, for what I was seeing. I have seen many movies and countless pictures, and am aware of her size. ( This one was in the region of 5 meters.) But nothing could have prepared me for the moment of witnessing the oceans prime predator 'in the flesh'. It was quite simply a combination of Awe, and total admiration.

The following minutes moved in a blur, clambering into my wetsuit, whilst trying to absorb every second of the sharks visit from the boat. Soon, I was in the cage, suspended alonside under water, just my head above the surface. ( i was on breath-hold', as the sharks do not particularly enjoy the bubbles.) Around me, the water was quiet again, the great white had dissapeared, tormenting me, and I saw a million sharks in a million different shadows around the cage...

Just as I began to fear the worst, Rozzier's shouts from above had me sucking in a frantic lungful of air,.." Here she comes, from behind you..go down..go down.." The chaos and noise dissapeared as I hauled myself under and fell to the base of the cage at about 3 meters. The silence and feel of the ocean was familiar, I turned smoothly, and there she was. This ENOURMOUS black and white shape, an unmistakeble profile, came gliding out of the gloom and passed within a few feet of me. I actually gasped at what I saw. No amount of preparation will get you ready for 2 things...the grace of her movement...and the sheer size, mass and power in front of you. Here was a great white with a girth almost as large as a motor car, this was her world...and I was an honoured guest. I snapped off a picture in the bad viz, then climbed back to the surface, back to my world, but completely unable to describe what I had just seen.
Soon, I was under again, this time she rolled up past the cage, and slowely opened her mouth to make contact with the the yellowfin carcass off to my right. The size of her mouth, and the teeth, I will not describe, because here, in words, it's futile and meaningless.
For those captured minutes under water, where for a short time I was given the chance by the oceans most feared predator to get eye to eye with her, on her terms and in her world, I will treasure for always. At the same time however, it's a sight that I truly hope I never see away from the confines of a boat or cage.

I have sent a few pics, excuse the poor quality.

Best regards

Jeff.
 

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fpernett

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2001
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That's amazing.
I really love this sharks too. As you said "better in the cage".
The picture capture the moment
 

unirdna

tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
1,016
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Incredible Jeff!

My hat's off to you for keeping your head strait enough to fully recall the experience (let alone snap a photo). Thanks for sharing....a pleasure to read.

Ted
 

bluecape

Well-Known Member
Apr 21, 2003
574
164
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Last pic,Going Home, and I still cannot believe what I have experienced...one of my dreams come true !

Jeff
 

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ivan

looking for deeper water
Jan 26, 2002
1,503
48
0
hi

Wow that is massive I cannot believe its size amazing.

I question you about spearfishing, if you can simply go a short distance off the coast and see a huge white pointer then does anyone spearfish there. I mean there must be a 90% chance of getting killed if you were to shoot a fish in those waters. If I lived there I would NEVER get in the ocean I would have to look for a freshwater lake :D

So do you see spearos get in the water there if so I think they should be filmed and put on extreme sports channel being the most extreme humans on earth.

cheers

Ps Im so amazed at how easy it is for you guys to White pointers so consistently
 
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ash

New Member
Nov 5, 2002
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Jeff

Thanks for posting that.

It's always a pleasure to get to fulfil a dream and this one sounds like it was extra special. It seems that everyone who gets to see a white from a cage comes away from the experience with a few circuits blown.

One of the things I miss most about living in South Africa is the diving. Just about everything has the potential to be BIG and nasty out there, which gives it all a subtle edge. Doesn't mean I want to freedive with a white though;)


Ash
 

bluecape

Well-Known Member
Apr 21, 2003
574
164
83
Hi all

Yep, was kinda special to see, mainly because I have always had such a respect for these sharks.

Ivan, yes, guys do spearfish with them around, I personally know a few spearo's who have encountered Great Whites whilst in the water, and I know of a few who have swum with them intentionally, but only when conditions are picture perfect. In short, they are everywhere here.
I spearfish in False bay, and as with all my buddies, in the knowledge that white's are outthere, probably checking on us from time to time. It's hard to explain but any Cape Diver will know that it's not courage, or stupidity that allows us to spearfish here. In 2 words, I guess it;s acceptance, and knowledge. Acceptance that we cannot live in dread here, or we must stop diving, and knowledge that they are absolutely not the killing machines the media have made them into.

We are able to calculate the threat to an extent...ie, do not spearfish in false bay near Seal Island in bad viz, for me..do not spear near Seal island in ANY viz ! If in false bay, I hunt more 'undercover',near the reefs and Kelp, but friends of mine still swim 1km off shore in open water and hunt. It's a choice and they are happy with it. A spearo was killed off Dyer island by a White some time ago, but many, many have died of SWB and car crashes. I guess it's acceptance to do what we love.

Best regards

Jeff
 
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ivan

looking for deeper water
Jan 26, 2002
1,503
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hi

You South africans have got some balls for sure :duh

cheers
 

fpernett

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2001
832
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Hi Jeff
I really understand you, the only choice will be not to dive, and that is an option I neither contemplate.
Great history. Respect you SA guys.
 

Adrian

Deeper Blue Beachcomber
Supporter
Nov 23, 2002
2,691
533
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Great story and very exciting! There's also a look of total fulfillment on your face in the pic! :)

I think I would dive too, as Frank says, no diving is no option, but I wouldn't wander far from shore and would always be taking looks all around! State of constant nervousness...

Adrian
 

bluecape

Well-Known Member
Apr 21, 2003
574
164
83
Hi Guys

Have been sitting reading the posts and generally hearing how many people would love to have the experience of seeing a Great White. Well, I guess I am fortunate to have them on my doorstep, but I was amazed at how many foreigners come over to Gansbaai with the aim of the trip to see the sharks and dive with them in the cage.
If anyone from DB has any plans of heading out at any stage, please to not hesitate to contact me. Youre welcome to stay at my place in Cape Town, I will collect you from the airport and show you around for the duration of your stay if needed, no worries with accomodation and transport.

Regards

Jeff A.
 

Erik

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2001
4,731
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Originally posted by bluecape
If anyone from DB ..... Youre welcome to stay at my place in Cape Town, I will collect you from the airport and show you around for the duration of your stay if needed, no worries with accomodation and transport.
Regards
Jeff A.

Is this a great community or what?
:)
Kudos to you bluecape,
Erik Y.
 

fpernett

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2001
832
102
133
51
I agree with Erik what a great community we have.
Thanks for your offer Jeff.
What incredible persons around here
 

tylerz

Well-Known Member
Jun 19, 2002
733
114
133
Jeff,

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, is about all I can say! I feel refreshed after reading your accounts and eager for life's every next surprise and experience.

I wonder if Wolfgang Leander would swim with the great whites freely!? ;) Not a challenge to him in any way, I just wonder what he would think of that.

Anyhow I as well believe that life is meant to be lived as you have mentioned, regarding risk of death.

Cheers and support,

Tyler
 
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