Oh, what wouldn't I do for the sake of journalism and first hand story-telling. An interview with Kim, the Shark Lady, led to yet another freezing dip on the itinerary. A rough ride from Kleinbaai brought us into the stormy open sea next to a small island with a fur seal colony. Crammed into a steel cage like sardines in a can, we submerged four at a time to see great white sharks.
To my surprise, I wasn't scared when the first shark showed up. There was no "TA-NA-NA-NA, TA-NA-NA-NA" playing in my head, nor was there a seemingly deadly dorsal fin breaking the calm of the water. It just appeared out of the blue. The people watching safely from the boat saw it coming and yelled to those in the cage. Curious, one by one the sharks came and circled around. I caught myself thinking that though I preferred watching animals without bars in the way, I'd rather be the one in a cage - watching the sharks, instead of them being the ones confined. In the meantime, the sharks kept coming. Some paraded their magnificence for a few minutes and swam away, others chose to try and see what the cage tastes like. The snorkel in my mouth made it hard to smile, but I had to at the thought of cartoon images of great whites. The sharks can't help their toothy grin, curved down and making them look evil. I had a chance to see and even feel a bit of this smile, as close as one can without getting seriously hurt, when one four meter-long inquisitive male stuck its nose through the rails. The power of the impact made clear that if these grinning giants had any interest in taking a bite for real, no cage would stop them. In fact, even easier for them would be to simply jump out of the water, as we've seen them do countless times, land inside the boat, and have Russian salad for dinner.
On the way back food was the last thing on my mind. Everybody, including the crew, was hurling into a little bucket passed around in circles. Still, totally worth it.