In South Australia a combination of tricks are used to bring the sharks into the boat and the first one involves using a tuna oil “power slick” to entice the sharks into the general area. The tuna oil is contained in a plastic bag, one of which is suspended over each side of the boat so that it just floats on the surface and the bags are pinpricked so that the tuna oil leaks out and forms a slick on the surface.
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 if there are Great Whites in the area their ultra sensitive olfactory sense will pick it up and their innate predatory instinct draws them to the source.
The next trick is liberal doses of a special burley brew thrown into the water at the back of the boat. This gruesome concoction is a mixture of minced tuna gills & lips and tuna blood, which looks, smells and tastes (yes, tastes…) absolutely awful!
The final parts of the trilogy are large chunks of tuna suspended on floats about 10m behind the boat and when one these baits is taken everybody knows the guest of honor has arrived. It’s also the signal to get geared up and in the cage, ready and waiting at the back of the boat, having been lowered in the water soon after arrival.
Great White Shark Cage Diving Technique – Image Gallery
Diving Australia: Great White Shark Cage Diving Technique - In The Shark Cage
The shark cage consists of two large sealed stainless steel tubes to provide flotation and then a box, large enough for four large people & constructed of the aluminum mesh normally used for house window screens. It has two viewing areas going right round the cage – one is at head height and the other at knee height.
These viewing areas are about 10” wide, which is enough to poke your camera through, but only big enough for a shark to get it’s snout or it’s lower jaw into – so it can’t bite, which I consider to be a fundamentally good design concept!
To use the cage, each of the occupants must be heavily weighed down so that you can stand on the cage floor and either special weight harnesses or multiple weight belts are used. The harnesses tend to concentrate the effect of the heavy weights on your shoulders and quickly become uncomfortable, so I personally opt for the multiple weight belts.
If there is any real danger associated with cage diving, it’s wearing the excessive weights it and the entry & exit from the cage is in reality as dangerous as it gets. Two things could go wrong; either you slip & fall into the water, not a good idea as all the weight you are carrying would send you to the bottom before a shark could get you…
Or a shark breaches onto the cage as you are entering or exiting – neither of which has ever happened by the way!
Scuba is not used, instead there is a hookah system from the boat which supplies four regulators with long hoses in the cage.
Great White Shark Cage Diving Technique – In The Cage
Entering the cage for the first time is an experience you will never forget and is mixture of sensations consisting of fear & excitement, queasiness from the smell of the burley – combined with its taste once you are in the water!
Then the cold water starts to chill you as you struggle to get in position at the viewing window, remembering the instructions to keep your head & arms inside the cage, while realizing that the choppy seas are the reason you are bouncing about so much.
But all these feelings disappear in the first burst of adrenalin when the first shark appears at the viewing window!
Simply stated, being in the water (albeit from the safety of the cage) with a Great White shark is one of the most exciting big animal adventures you can possibly have.
It’s only when you see them in their own environment that you can fully appreciate how much they have mastered it and truly become the “apex predator”.
Their two-tone coloration makes them very difficult to see when viewed either from above or below, but when you do see them it’s clear to see the sheer brute force they possess.
They seem to move through the water as if self-propelled, almost like a submarine, but when alarmed or excited a flick of their powerful tail thrusts the large streamlined body forward at quite amazing speed.
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