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Shark Attack! (16/05/12)

May 17, 2012

Getting up at six o’clock in the morning was something I knew I’d have to get used to. This was to be part of our daily routine as volunteers: up at 6am, head to the boat with all of the wetsuits, towels and chum, load it all into the boat and clean the deck. Then we’d meet the guests and help them into their life jackets before heading out to sea. There are two rewards for getting up so early: getting out before the other boats to hopefully see more sharks and being greeted with a beautiful view as the sun comes up.

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Today as I was cleaning the boat I decided to climb up to the top deck, this was my first time clambering around a wet and slippery boat and the cage was blocking my way to the ladder so I had to be particularly nimble (not my forte) and very carefully haul myself up the side of the cage and pick my way over various railings, but I made it and vowed to look a bit smoother next time.

Once we were out at sea we waited about half an hour before our first shark sighting but from then on the sharks just kept coming and they were huge!

During my cage dive a 4.6 meter Great White came so close to me it’s fin brushed along the cage – I was so close to touching it but a moments hesitation and I’d missed my chance. But more close sightings back on the boat gave me the chance to take some great photo’s.

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In total we saw nine different sharks but the best was yet to come. We’d finished diving for the day and stowed the cage back on the boat before heading to Geyser Rock (where the Cape Fur Seals like to sunbathe) to show the guests the cute and cuddly prey of the Great Whites we’d seen.

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The boat was just passing by the rock when our skipper shouted “predation!” We all rushed to the side of the boat in time to sea a huge dorsal fin and the tail fins of a shark break the surface by a rock of seals and next thing we knew it had a seal in it’s mouth.

I couldn’t contain myself and was desperate to get a better view, so I lurched towards the ladder leading up to the top deck but once again the cage was blocking the way. I found myself racing up the slippery and precarious route that I’d taken earlier that morning when cleaning, only this time I had the sway of the boat to contend with.

However this time my desperation had made me bolder and I clambered up like a shot, not really considering the dangers of slipping and falling but it was so worth the risk.

As I reached the railing I looked out and saw a big pool of blood on the surface of the water but as I looked directly below me I couldn’t believe my luck – the massive shark was circling our boat clutching an equally sizable seal in it’s jaws. It shook it around as it was swimming (I was told it was trying to get rid of the seal’s skin that was hooked on it’s teeth). It was such a surreal moment and I felt like I was watching a film or nature documentary rather than seeing this all in real life.

This was an extremely unusual sighting and we were later told that a tv crew from National Geographic had been out on the water for six weeks to see what we’d just witnessed -I felt so privileged and it’s a memory that will stay with me forever – a real life ‘shark attack’.

Needless to say I was buzzing for the rest of the day and although it was only day two of the two week project, my holiday had already been made!

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