The Great White Life – The arrival
Hello, my name is Donovan Lewis. If you’ve seen the posts on the Blue Planet Facebook page then you’ll know what you’re about to read. If not then that’s not a problem, I’ll explain.
I’m a Guest experience presenter and Shark diver at Blue Planet Aquarium located in Ellesmere Port. Blue Planet has funded me to come and work alongside the shark experts at the White Shark diving company. Located here in South Africa (The shark capital of the world). Throughout my time here I’m hoping to see a number of different species. But, the one I’m most excited about is the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias).
The Great White Shark journey begins
After loads of goodbyes and tears at the departure gate. It was time to head to the other side of the world to realise a lifelong dream. The journey to South Africa was the longest journey I’ve ever taken at this point but went by surprisingly fast.
I started in Manchester where I did the 70-minute flight to Paris. I had a quick stopover with just enough time to get from one plane to another. The flight from Paris to Johannesburg was the long one. Around 9 or so hours through the one flight. I decided to have a snooze as it was a night flight and thought it may be best. Hoping to get around 3 hours of sleep but managed to get 7. Arising just in time for breakfast and landing at Johannesburg.
Arriving in South Africa
Johannesburg airport is huge. I’m thankful for a local man who helped me to my gate. I got to it just in time for my final flight to cape town. This one was to be about an hour and a half.
I finally landed in Cape town around 2 pm. Got in a taxi and was on the way to Ashanti. We left driving down a 4 lane motorway towards table mountain. My driver told me all about cape town. What goes on around town and how on certain beaches you can even get roaming ostriches. We drove past a bush fire with smoke billowing over the motorway before arriving at Ashanti backpackers.
Great whites are near
I stayed in Ashanti for 2 nights. Our journey continued at 7 am on the 1st of May with a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Gansbaai. Pulling up at the White Shark diving company building. First things first, we had a safety briefing. Done by Lalo, we learned how the day will work. Importantly, we learned the dos and don’ts in and around the cage.
We’d discovered Great Whites were spotted the day before. However, on the first trip of this day, they had not seen any. So they told us we could still see some but nothing is certain.
We steamed out for the summer inshore site. Where we checked with another boat to see if they had seen any sharks. There weren’t any so we picked up the cage and moved out to dyer island. We chummed for over an hour.
Geyser rock seal colony
It was quiet so I took the opportunity to ask some questions. About the sharks and area. Eventually, due to the waves, people began to become seasick. The skipper decided that the best thing to do is to have a quick sail through shark alley. Where we were to have a look at the famous Geyser rock seal colony. Which has an average of 64,000 Cape Fur seals living on it. It was noisy and busy but truly incredible to see a place I had only ever seen in documentaries. The seal pups were all swimming in the shallows and the big males sat on higher rocks. This is to assert that they were the boss of their section of shoreline.
Even though we did not see any sharks on this trip it was still incredible to just be on the boat and see everything happening as it was.
We soon turned and headed back to Gansbaai harbour and escorted to the volunteer house.
We settled and unpacked before the welcome braai (BBQ) with loads of amazing food. The volunteer house is amazing. It is all shark-themed and each area of the house has a cool name. For example, the kitchen is called “Soupfin kitchen” in honour of the Soupfin shark.
Since being here for the last week we have still not seen a Great white shark. However, the reasons why will be explained in the next blog entry. This week we got to watch a scientific first! Something which is both sad but incredible all at the same time!
Stay tuned for a special blog entry.