The Great White Shark cage diving technique used in South Australia is a combination of tricks and lessons learned used to do two things – attract the animals to the boat and then keep them there.
Conditioned as we generally are in to viewing the Great White Shark as some kind of robotic killing machine able to detect and home in on the smallest drop of blood from a great distance, it comes as quite a surprise to realize that they are actually extremely cautious animals and have to be drawn to the cage.
Small plastic bags filled with the oil are pin-pricked and suspended over each side of the boat to just float on the surface so the oil can slowly leak out and form a surface slick that is carried downstream with the prevailing current.
The slick is generally very effective at bringing the sharks towards the boat.
When viewed at sunset, it’s very clear why the oil works so well – the slick literally stretches for as far as the eye can see and any sharks in the area will pick it up with their highly developed olfactory system and be drawn to the source.
This gruesome concoction is a mixture of minced tuna gills, lips and tuna blood, which looks and smells absolutely awful, but is virtually guaranteed to excite the sharks.
Finally, large chunks of tuna suspended on floats behind the boat are used as baits lure the sharks towards the cage so they can be viewed more closely and photographed.
The tuna baits illustrate the cautious nature of the Great White Shark extremely well.
The sharks will circle the baits for extended periods before taking one – often coming with a few feet only to pass by, clearly either because they are not hungry or are wary of the passive free lunch…
But when they do take the bait, they do so with the full force available to them, which is truly an awe-inspiring sight!