Yesterday Trevor, Brian Mummert, Drew and I woke up at 5:30 am and drove two hours in the dark to Gansbaai, to see great white sharks. We got a safety briefing and watched a video which reminded us of how awesome sharks are, and harmless (350 people were killed by kites last year--KITES! and four by sharks) which didn't really lessen the thrill of getting into water with them. The boat ride out to Dyer Island was very choppy and rough, but the sea calmed somewhat when we dropped anchor, chummed the water and began to attract sharks. In the six-person cage, we bobbed up and down in the swells, in water that reeked of fish oil and intestines, until the watchers above us called out "down, right!" or "down, front!" at which point we dived to the bottom of the cage and watched as a huge shark swam lazily by, following a pair of fish heads tied to a rope maneuvered by one of the handlers. It was about two feet away at most.
We passed most of the morning like this, and I got over my initial butterflies, feeling secure in our crew's mammalian intelligence and superiority over the enormous fish below us. Just as I was getting ready to change back into my clothes and have a nap, one of the sharks tricked the rope puller crewman and lunged at the fish heads, grabbing them and shaking them violently to and fro as he swam away, biting the cage in frustration and lashing the surface with his tail, splashing everyone with water. It was an electrifying reminder of how awesome sharks are.
Sweet. Afterwards at lunch, a cat stole my hamburger. Lesson: animals are smarter than you think.