Shark diving is very much the main focus here at Aliwal Shoal. Winter always delivers hundreds of ragged-tooth sharks. All of them are female and they are here to pass gestation time with the safety of Aliwal Shoals vast networks of overhangs and swim-throughs. There is evidence of orca predation elsewhere which suggests that the reef offers refuge and safety for these ladies in waiting.
A Typical Launch
Everyone meets up at the planned launch time. The boat and crew will be ready to go. We take a drive down to the local launch site where everyone jumps out and gathers for the shark dive briefing. At the briefing, you will be given the rules of swimming with sharks and general launch and dive protocols and hand signals. Don’t be shy to ask questions!
The launch, considered one of the most challenging, takes about 10 minutes and then a 20-minute ride out to the Aliwal Shoal marine protected area. A bait stem is lowered into the water attracting blacktip sharks by the dozen. Everyone slips quietly into the water and led to a floating hanger where you have a panoramic view of sharks all over the show. Also, many other varieties of fish accompany the sharks, making the scene quite colourful and action-filled at every instant.
After an hour in the water, we lift the bait stem and head back to the launch site. Safety jackets on, and a joyful ride back to base, followed by a shore beach or river beaching, depending on tidal conditions.
Photos taken by crew are then sold separately as an optional selfy-style shot with sharks.
Ragged-tooth Shark Etiquette
It is important to note that while ragged-tooth sharks look super chilled, they have a reputation as one of the most aggressive sharks in the ocean. That being said, if you observe the rules and stay within those boundaries, the experience will be incredible.
Baited Shark Diving Etiquette
It is well established amongst scuba divers that certain practical rules should be observed at all times for safety and also as not to confuse sharks. When diving with sharks, please remember that we are in their front garden. The rules and guidelines below are for your safety. We have an amazing record here at Aliwal Shoal and we aim to keep it that way.
Never touch or try to hold onto a shark or its fins. Please respect their space. They become reactive and unpredictable if handled and get quite skittish. The aim is to observe them without altering their behavior.
Tuck your hands under your armpits. Do not swim with your arms. Use your fins instead of relaxed movements while floating the surface. Splashing on the surface mimics a fish in distress alerting shark which creates unnecessary attention. Keeping calm and relaxed will allow you an amazing interaction with these curious and energetic creatures.
If you need help, all you need to do is signal to your buddy or one of the divemasters, and they will make their way to you.