Tag Archives: Sharks

Close Encounters of the Shark Kind: Shark Cage Diving In Oahu

Shark Cage Dving Oahu

What better way to kick off a trip in Hawaii than going shark cage diving in Oahu?

Everyone’s all settled in and still not over the fact that less than 24 hours ago, we were just in Alaska. But no time for rest. I made it known to them that bright and early tomorrow morning, we have to head towards the North Shore for Event #4. I didn’t tell them anything about the event, except to wear swim gear and bring waterproof cameras if they had them. We packed the rental car and took off early in the morning to the North Shore of Oahu. Our destination? Haleiwa, HI.

Haleiwa, Hawaii, the location of Event #4.
Haleiwa, Hawaii, the location of Event #4.

Event #4 of 5 – Shark Cage Diving Oahu

Before we left, I woke up Veronica around 6am to take a couple motion sickness tablets. She gets as sick as I do so we both took them early in preparation. She didn’t know yet why she needed them, but she didn’t hesitate to take them. Once we pulled into the Haleiwa park and saw the sign for “Hawaii Shark Encounters” she then knew exactly why she needed the tablets. “We’re going shark cage diving!”

Courtesy of Chris O'Sullivan
Courtesy of Chris O’Sullivan
The boat for our dive came about 15 minutes after we arrived and we got on board with seven other divers along with two instructors. One of the instructors let us know that the type of sharks we would be seeing were Galapagos sharks, which can grow up to 3.3 meters (11 feet) in length.

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We rode the boat about 20 minutes out into the sea where we found our cage attached to a buoy. Thankfully, the weather was especially welcoming and the waters were of a comfortable temperature, unlike my previous shark cage diving experience in South Africa. Already we could see sharks swimming below our boat, much to the elation of everyone. Once anchored, we put on our wet suits and snorkels masks and climbed down into the cage which was now securely attached to the boat.

Galapagos Sharks

I was feeling a tad sick from the boat ride–just a tad, but going underwater made it feel a little better. Just in time, as I was able to concentrate and focus on capturing awesome footage with my GoPro.

Shark Cage Diving Oahu

Shark Cage Diving Oahu

The Galapagos sharks look vicious, but are actually mild in comparison to Great Whites. These sharks aren’t fond of humans as a meal, but instead will let you swim freely around them once they grow comfortable and realize that you are not a threat. If I’d known that this was a thing, I would of had all of us free dive with them instead of cage dive, but baby steps. I wasn’t sure how Veronica, Katelin, and Sean would fare but they ended up loving it! As far as Chris goes, per usual, he is game for literally anything at anytime.

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The cage was big enough to fit six people comfortably, but still we would bump into each other. No one paid mind though. The sharks captured all of our attention as the crew members baited them and we watched them chomp all around us. They swam so close to our cage that you could touch them. In fact, I think my GoPro caressed one as it swam by with little reaction from the shark. Without notice, my camera-free arm and feet would dangle outside of the cage at times. That’s how comfortable I was in that cage and how comfortable I was with those sharks, to not mind my limbs dangling freely (sometimes). Now if these were Great Whites, that would be another story.

Oahu Shark Cage Diving

Galapagos Sharks

After awhile of nonstop shark action, I began to feel nauseous again. I felt like I could vomit in the coming moments, so I exited the cage early. But just a couple minutes after I climbed out, the crew decided that we were in long enough anyways and they had everyone climb out.

“Look out into the horizon,” said one of the crew members to me, knowing that I was feeling sick. “You’ll start to feel better.”

And so I did. I’m not sure if it was just a mind game or what but I actually did begin to feel better by just staring out into the distant shore of Haleiwa. Veronica was feeling sick to so I told her to look out into the horizon as well.

On the way back to the dock, a pod of dolphins swam in sync to the waves our boats’ engine created behind us. This is the first time I’ve seen dolphins in the wild and so many of them at the same time! The cherry on top of this neat excursion.

Dolphins in Oahu

That’s half of The League of Eight Extraordinary Events down, another four to go!

What next could I possibly have in store for my crew of clueless globetrotters?

Shark Cage Diving Oahu

 

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Kings of the Seas

Do you recall the international headline about 17 volunteers in South Africa who decided to go shark diving one morning and it ended with their boat sinking and then each one being ripped apart by an army of great white sharks? No?

That’s what played through my head during the three-hour bus ride to Gansbaai at four in the morning. What if something like that were to happen? I can’t even imagine. That, however, was the least of my worries. The rocking motion of the ocean is what concerned me. I took one motion tablet before I left because every other excursion I went on, one tablet did the trick. Now that everything is said and done, I should have took two. Probably three.

After the bus ride, we finally made it to Gansbaai, the site of our shark cage diving adventure. The captain introduced himself and his crew members while we stuffed ourselves with breakfast. That was my first mistake. I was about to go on a boat for several hours with a full belly, knowing full well I succumb to motion sickness all too easy. I liked to look at it as, we’re fattening ourselves up for the sharks. My unselfish contribution to the food chain.

On our way to the diving spot. This crew member fed our flying visitors some chips.

The ocean was wavy and I was fine on the way to the middle of it. And then we stopped and set anchor. That’s when I started to feel it. That’s when a handful of us started to feel it. But I was too excited to think about it. Especially when I saw a crew member throw chum into the water to lure the beasts. Their chum consisted of the biggest heads of fish I have ever seen. After about fifteen minutes give or take, we finally spotted a huge behemoth lurking beneath our boat. I underestimated the size of the Great White. I knew they were big, but to actually see them in their wild state is something else.

I was in the first group to go into the cage. The cage went about a meter or two in the water and could fit about five divers. I got in. And I started to feel it even more. Since we were the first group, it took awhile before the sharks started to come. And as I waited in the rocking cage, I became nauseous. I needed to see some sharks now before I puked all over my diving partners! And then finally they came!

They crept by directly in front of us looking all rugged and beastly. They had the look. The look like they knew they ruled the ocean. And they do. I knew it. They knew it. It was fascinating. Overtime, the sharks other shark buddies would come and swim around, underneath, and right in front of us. My sickness went out the window and I was mesmerized…

…But then my sickness came back through the window and said “Dan, time to get out before you puke all over yourself.” I got out and immediately took off my wetsuit, took a seat, and shut my eyes. You know that feeling where you don’t have to vomit, but you know you’ll have to eventually? That’s how I felt. But I wasn’t the only one. On the opposite side of the boat there was a row of sick people already vomiting overboard.

I eventually joined them…

Some didn’t even go into the cage because they were so ill the whole time. After awhile, the sharks started to grow more aggressive and would even leap out of the water. I had to ignore my motion weakness and pull out my camera to get some shots. It’s not everyday you get to do this. I managed to get some decent photos for a few minutes.

It got a hold of the chum!
Great White Shark
Jawsome!

Eventually I went to the others hanging over the boat to join them in a simultaneous puke session. I hope the other healthy volunteers enjoyed our contribution of “chum” to attract the sharks. My other unselfish contribution. Immediately afterwards, I felt fine. I learned my lesson…boats are the worst! Take three tablets next time 🙂

On our way back to the dock we passed Geyser Island, a haven full of seals.

Hey!… Hey!… Hey!… Hey!…

There were hundreds upon hundreds of seals! It sounded like they were all shouting “Hey! Hey!” as we slowly passed by. It did smell pretty bad though. We finally made it to dock and were treated to a nice lunch with complimentary wine and beer. I was in no mood to drink after being on that boat, but I did however manage to snag a bottle of red wine for later on.

What? It was complimentary. 🙂

A Shark Tale

About one week until I leave to South Africa! Here’s the (little) information I’ve gathered from the many emails sent from the project coordinators.

I will be living in a suburb of Cape Town called Muizenberg, a sea-side town that is a popular surfing spot. Apparently, the waters here are much warmer than many nearby coasts. I was told to be careful when I go into the ocean. Here’s a little story for you. I read an article about a month ago where an up and coming surfer was “ripped apart” by a Great White Shark recently. I don’t remember his name but supposedly there was a film crew shooting a documentary about Great Whites and they used a whole lot of chum to attract the sharks to their location. When the crew left Muizenberg waters after completion of filming, some of the sharks lingered in the area for a few days and attacked and killed the pro surfer. I’ve also read reports of recent great white attacks in Cape Town. I guess it happens. Not too often, but it does. Just sounds like I will have to be extremely cautious when going into the deep waters. Whales freak me out waaayyy more! If I saw one, I think I would instantly faint. They’re just…so…big…

These don’t scare me as much as a whale does.

Enough about the sharks and whales for now. What’s more important is my main intent in SA. Although I’ll be living in Muizenberg, it’s stated that I will be teaching in the Vrygrond Community which is nearby. With my background in Communication Technology, I was asked if I could teach basic computer skills to the local students there. I gladly accepted. The only drawback is that I would only be able to teach until mid June. Afterwards the kids enjoy a long break from school which means eventually I will have to switch my placement. To what? I won’t know until I get there. I don’t know any specific details like the name of the school I’ll be at, addresses, or anything yet. Nada.

Iviwe Sixolo and Tim Murray are my main project coordinators and are my contacts while I’m there. I have no idea what it is they do exactly but they are the ones who have been in touch with me while I prepare for my trip. Iviwe (I don’t know you pronounce that. I don’t even know if Iviwe is a male or female haha) told me that I would be living in a volunteer house with a whole crop of other volunteers. I wanted to live in a homestay but the bright side of this is there will always be someone around to hang out with (hopefully). Usually whenever I’m abroad I stay with a host family which is what I preferred. But I’ll make the best of it!

Muizenberg, Western Cape, South Africa