I can tell you from personal experience that the first time in the Great White Shark cage is a pretty intense moment…
Thoughts of what could go wrong fill your head as you desperately try not to make a fool of yourself but the reality is that it is all very safe – there is just no way the Australian authorities would allow you in there if it wasn’t!
The actual cage consists of two large sealed stainless steel tubes to provide flotation and an attached box, big enough for four large people, made from the aluminium mesh normally used for the security screens found on house windows.
There are two open viewing areas, one at head height and the other at knee height, which are big enough to poke your camera through, but small enough to prevent an aggressive shark from entering.
Before you enter the cage, you must be heavily weighted so you do not float around in it… and either a special weight harness, or multiple weight belts, are used. The harness tends to concentrate the effect of the heavy weights on your shoulders and quickly becomes uncomfortable, so I personally opt for the multiple weight belts.
If there is any real danger associated with cage diving it is wearing those excessive weights while entering and exiting the cage because if you slipped and fell into the water you would sink like a stone!
The cage is fitted with hookah regulators supplied from the boat so that the available space is maximized and scuba tanks are only used if the cage it is to be lowered below the surface.
It has to be said that, in all but the calmest seas, actually being in the cage is not exactly the most comfortable of experiences as you tend to be buffeted around as it bobs around on the surface of the water.
Add to that the cold temperatures and the burley in the water (which you can taste through the regulator) and you get the picture… but all that discomfort simply evaporates when the sharks come in to the cage!
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 have and it is 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.