Dale Hes for The Traveler Mag April 2016
Not even the most fearless of souls can deny they weren’t at least a little bit scared when diving with a great white shark for the first time. Seeing one of these massive predators cruising towards you, jaws agape, makes you feel utterly insignificant. But after the giddy adrenaline rush, you’re left with a profound respect for the creature you’ve just shared such an awe-inspiring encounter with.
It is this philosophy of respect that guides the operations of White Shark Projects, an organisation that goes well beyond just offering shark cage diving. Situated in the great white shark mecca of Kleinbaai, this is first and foremost a conservation project.
Since 1989, the incredibly passionate team has spent thousands of hours observing the threatened apex predators, gathering vital data and improving public education. The company’s dedication has gone a long way towards changing the perceptions of great whites as vicious, indiscriminate killers.
White Shark Projects has established itself as the most successful operation on earth, consistently logging the most annual contacts with great white sharks.
You’ll experience an electrifying 20 minutes with the sharks while in the safety of the cage. Afterwards, you may be treated to the spectacular sight of a great white shark leaping out of the water. After the dive, you’ll get a certificate to hang proudly on your wall, forever commemorating this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Most of the team have spent their entire lives around the ocean. Lead skipper Gerald, for example, started his love for the sea when he was a little boy, and has since racked up more than 3 000 great white shark sightings.
Volunteer programmes and community upliftment projects are also an important part of the company’s operations. They have committed to supporting the surrounding Masekhane community, with one of the most recent projects being an innovative Recycle Swop Shop. Exited children arrive at the shop every Tuesday to hand in recyclable materials such as empty bottles, in exchange for necessities such as soap, stationery, clothing and food.
The initiative has the dual purpose of sustaining the local communities and instilling the value of conserving the environment from an early age. The shop relies solely on donations and volunteers to keep running.
*To take the shark cage diving plunge, book at www.whitesharkprojects.co.za or call 076 245 5880. If you want to contribute to the Recycle Swop Shop, call Charmaine on 083 728 4833.
To read the article in The Traveler Mag, click on the link below: