fb

Innovative date idea: Shark Cage Dive at UShaka Marine World

By: Natasha Archary 

 

White tip reef shark 

 

All my life I’ve been fascinated by the depths of the ocean and the predators that lurk within. In suggesting the shark cage dive experience at UShaka Marine World, as an innovative date idea, I realise that there will be many who do not share my enthusiasm at being submerged into these terrifying creatures’ world.

 

I had been willing the dive into existence for months, putting it out into the universe, psyching myself up to taking the plunge, (literally) and was ecstatic when my trip to the sunny shores of Durban was confirmed. My date, not so much. He opted out of the diving experience and offered to be my amateur cameraman, taking pictures and videos of me from the aquarium below.

 

A little disappointed, I decided not to let that marr the day planned, because, in hindsight, I had a good few months of mental preparation as opposed to him and besides this was something I wanted to do. It would probably have made sense to wait until we were three months in before asking him out on this date with me (yes, this feminist asks).

 

Preparing for the challenge mentally cannot be overlooked and if you do consider the dive as a couple, (which I recommend) I can’t stress enough how important it is that you give yourself time to psyche yourself up for the dive.

(I’ll give you a rundown off my mental prep towards the end of the post)

 

Finally, the day of the dive arrived and I landed in Durban on a beautiful, sunny day which was to me, a sign that the date was going to go according to plan. The arrangements for a couple diving experience were all set and I gave my date a final chance to get in with me, he refused, politely, and – seeing the fear in his eyes – I did not push him further. He was really encouraging and did everything to keep my nerves at bay and motivate me.

 

 

made my way down to the dive point, while he headed towards the aquarium, and after a quick talk by the diver on site, I get into the tank, the icy water stinging my body like needles. I was instructed to take deep breaths and pull myself into the cage and to the bottom, working against the intense water pressure of the tank. This was really happening. I did as I was told and on my first plummet, I struggled to get to the bottom of the tank altogether, I did however manage a wave to my date, dry and relieved on the other side of the glass that separated us. He was smiling back at me, but I could tell he was thinking…this woman’s crazy.

 

 

On my second dive down I spotted a small, lean white tip reef shark (yes, I did my research before I got in), they don’t exceed more than 1.6 meters in length, chuckling mentally that I’m a whole five centimeters taller than these guys, I take in the beauty of their underwater world with relish. I spotted a few giant sandsharks at the bottom of the shark tank as well, a member of the ray family, their distinct flat head and trunk are unmistakable. I go up for air. This isn’t so bad, the biggest factor with the mental preparation is to prepare for the claustrophobia expert divers cite as the scariest part of a shark diving experience, not the shark at all. Hmmm, guess I’m not claustrophobic afterall.

 

Guess again.

 

Old Raggy

 

On my third descent, all I see is a huge “shadow” pass by the tank I’m in. I turn to follow the direction of the shadow and as I do all I see are jagged, pin-like teeth, poking out of this monster ragged-tooth shark that has now made it his mission to circle the tank. My gasp meant I had swallowed a mouthful of water, unable to breathe any longer, I propelled myself to the surface of the cage, gasping for air and as the reality of my situation finally kicks in, I start to panic.

 

Look at him, it’s no wonder I panicked

 

 

“Get me out! Get me out, I can’t do this. What the *bleep* was I thinking?”

 

Hyperventilating is not fun, especially when you have an audience of UShaka Marine World visitors looking at you from the bridge overhead. The diving guide, reassures me and urges me to stay calm and to breathe. My date has no idea I’m freaking out and I have no way of signalling my distress to him because I can’t stomach going back into the tank and coming face to face with old raggy.

 

“They can’t get in, you’re safe. I have you, you’re fine. Just breathe, stay calm and go back down when you’re ready.”

 

“Natasha, pull yourself together, twelve year old kids do this. Stop being such a big baby.”

 

I can’t help but notice the tank is maneuvered on a pulley system, with two ropes. That’s it…but he has me and I need to trust that.

 

The water pressure makes it tough to get to the bottom

 

I reach into my inner zen and sink down to the bottom of the tank, this time kneeling on the floor of the tank and search for old raggy. He’s massive, bigger than they look from the other side of the aquarium glass, it’s like everything is magnified by five when you’re in the same space as these beautiful beasts. I’m in awe of their majestic grace, the way they glide through the high pressured waters with such ease, always moving, commanding respect without effort.

 

Yup, they circle you alright

 

It’s beautiful underwater with them, circling me, underneath me, around me. The crystal clear water that houses them magnifies every minute detail about them. Their beady eyes, every tooth, the way the sunlight bounces off their smooth skin. They have to be one of the most misunderstood creatures on earth. Dangerous when threatened but did you know sharks love to be petted? Ragged-tooth sharks are more closely related to great whites than tiger sharks.

 

 

One of my bucket-list to-dos includes the open ocean, great white shark cage-diving experience in Cape Town. I’ve not plucked up the courage to see this out yet but perhaps after a scuba dive in the UShaka Marine World, shark tank at a later stage I’ll be there. So, I take pride in the fact that I was in the same space as a relative of the most feared shark in the ocean. Raggies aren’t remotely close in size to a great white though, so while I can have bragging rights after this, the two should never be compared.

 

The ten minutes are over before I know it and I now regret being pulled back to my world. Old raggy, still circles the tank so my diving guide has to wait for his primary dorsal fin to sink below the surface because attempting to reel me in.

I’m so glad I went through with it. It’s an experience I will never forget for as long as I live. It goes down as one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life but also one of the most powerful. Conquering a fear is undoubtedly one of the most liberating things you can ever experience. Definitely one for the record books.

 

My date gives me a good, long hug and wraps me in a towel to warm me up. He checks to see if I’m okay because at that point I had no control over my trembling body. It took a few minutes for my body temperature to regulate, jeez it’s freezing in there with THEM. The adrenalin surging through my veins took a little longer to wear off and for a good fifteen minutes, my hands couldn’t stop trembling and my jelly-legs wouldn’t stop wobbling. It was the most intense rush I’ve ever felt, the highest high. I would give anything to feel that charge of fear and uncertainity all over again.

 

The shark cage dive is as an innovative date idea and I give it two thumbs up. I hope you try it together as a couple but it may not be the case as there will most likely be apprehension and fear from one or both of you. Something that I find with a lot of my dates is that most have a fear of fear itself. Where it’s missing with me, they have it in bucket loads and it doesn’t bode well for a long term relationship when someone isn’t open to trying new things or pushing past the barricades of their comfort zone.

 

Near-death experience or not, be open to adventure and give this a go the next time you are in Durban. Unlike open ocean shark cage diving experiences, the UShaka dive is in a controlled environment and is not nearly as intimidating as getting into a tank with great whites around you. The sharks can’t breach the tank, you’re safe, it’s just your mind you have to control.

 

Thank you to UShaka Marine World for being so hospitable and indulging my crazy, I’d do it again…in a heartbeat!

 

 

Preparing for my dive

I spent close to three months researching the UShaka Marine World shark cage dive, watching videos and reading previous divers experiences. I also watched a number of shark documentaries, my favourite has to be the Netflix series: Sharks. Detailed, honest and informative, this series put my mind at ease a little more than the National Geographic documentary – Savage Great White Shark.

Sharks: Scavengers of the seas is also a really great doccie to start with.

 

Next I spent time watching scuba divers swimming with sharks and many talk about the claustrophobia that grips you more than your fear of these predators. It is scary being in their world with no control and no way out. Running out of air, hyperventilating, being confined to the shark tank while they swim around you…it all weighs in on you. Nothing can ever prepare you enough however, it comes at you out of nowhere.

 

Ocean Ramsey, a free-diver who is also a shark conservationist, inspires me immensely. She speaks of sharks in a way no one else has before. She talks about them having feelings, being peaceful and with a passion to protect the many endangered species of shark tells the “anti-Jaws story” .

 

Watching her dives taught me not to get into the water until my mind is totally calm. So when my panic-attack kicked in, I knew not to get back into the water until my mind was in control. Sharks can detect low sound frequencies and weak electrical signals, this is often what triggers them into a frenzied attack.

 

Practice your underwater breathing techniques, I could probably only stay under for about thirty seconds but if you can get that under control better than I could you would be able to take in a lot more per dive down.

 

Equipment 

UShaka Marine World takes every precaution to ensure your safety during the shark cage dive. You don’t have to be the most experienced swimmer but you will need to be able to hold your breath underwater as you are not given oxygen masks, just a pair of goggles.

Pack your own towel, bikini (you’re not given a wet suit) and a set of dry clothes, unless you’re hitting the Wet & Wild water theme park thereafter.

 

Follow UShaka Marine World to get the latest specials on packages and to book your Sea Animal Encounter Adventure.
Facebook: @uShakaFanPage
Twitter: @uShakaMarine
Insta: @ushakamarineworld

    Don’t miss out on the latest local news, interviews and competitions.

    Don’t miss out on the latest local news, interviews and competitions.

    More Articles
    Receive the latest news

    Subscribe To Our Newsletter

    THE KAYA 959 APP NOW AVAILABLE

    DOWNLOAD YOURS NOW

    Copyright Notice

    1. COPYRIGHT

    1.1 The contents of this Website, including but not limited to its compilation and arrangement, is the exclusive property of Kaya 959, alternatively the suppliers of content to Kaya 959, and accordingly remain protected by South African and International Copyright and Trademark laws.

    1.2 Any person accessing this Website, may not, save for downloading one copy for their personal computers and solely for their private and non-commercial use :

    1.2.1 Copy, disseminate, distribute, advertise, publish, adapt, modify or in any way reproduce the contents of this website for commercial purposes, unless this notice and any disclaimer attached thereto is published in its entirety, or unless the permission of Kaya 959 is obtained in writing.

    Privacy Policy

    THIS PRIVACY STATEMENT FORMS PART OF KAYA 959’S TERMS OF USE POLICY. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH ANY TERM OF THIS PRIVACY STATEMENT, YOU MUST CEASE YOUR ACCESS OF THIS WEBSITE IMMEDIATELY. 

    POPIA ActTo promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies; to introduce certain conditions so as to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information; to provide for the establishment of an Information Regulator to exercise certain powers and to perform certain duties and functions in terms of this Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000; to provide for the issuing of codes of conduct; to provide for the rights of persons regarding unsolicited electronic communications and automated decision making; to regulate the flow of personal information across the borders of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

    RECOGNISING THAT—

    • section 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, provides that everyone has the right to privacy;
    • the right to privacy includes a right to protection against the unlawful collection, retention, dissemination and use of personal information;
    • the State must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights;

    AND BEARING IN MIND THAT—

    • consonant with the constitutional values of democracy and openness, the need for economic and social progress, within the framework of the information society, requires the removal of unnecessary impediments to the free flow of information, including personal information;

    AND IN ORDER TO—

    • regulate, in harmony with international standards, the processing of personal information by public and private bodies in a manner that gives effect to the right to privacy subject to justifiable limitations that are aimed at protecting other rights and important interests,
    1. Definitions and Interpretation

    1.1.“Personal Information” means information relating to an identifiable, living, natural person and where it is applicable, identifiable, existing juristic person, including all information as defined in the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013. 

    1.2  Parliament assented to POPIA on 19 November 2013. The commencement date of section 1Part A of Chapter 5section 112 and section 113 was 11 April 2014. The commencement date of the other sections was 1 July 2020 (with the exception of section 110 and 114(4). The President of South Africa has proclaimed the POPI commencement date to be 1 July 2020.

     
    1.3. “Processing” means the creation, generation, communication, storage, destruction of personal information as more fully defined in the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013.  

    1.4. “You” or the “user” means any person who accesses and browses this website for any purpose. 

    1.4. “Website” means the website of the KAYA 959 at URL www.kaya959.co.za or such other URL as KAYA 959 may choose from time to time.   

    1. Status and Amendments

    2.1. KAYA 959 respects your privacy. This privacy policy statement sets out KAYA 959’s information gathering and dissemination practices in respect of the Website. 

    2.2. This Privacy Policy governs the processing of personal information provided to KAYA 959 through your use of the Website. 

    2.3. Please note that, due to legal and other developments, KAYA 959 may amend these terms and conditions from time to time.  

    1. Processing of Personal Information

    3.1. By providing your personal information to KAYA 959 you acknowledge that it has been collected directly from you and consent to its processing by KAYA 959. 

    3.2. Where you submit Personal Information (such as name, address, telephone number and email address) via the website (e.g. through completing any online form) the following principles are observed in the processing of that information: 

    3.2.1. KAYA 959 will only collect personal information for a purpose consistent with the purpose for which it is required. The specific purpose for which information is 
    collected will be apparent from the context in which it is requested. 

    3.2.2. KAYA 959 will only process personal information in a manner that is adequate, relevant and not excessive in the context of the purpose for which it is processed. 

    3.2.3. Personal information will only be processed for a purpose compatible with that for which it was collected, unless you have agreed to an alternative purpose in writing or KAYA 959 is permitted in terms of national legislation of general application dealing primarily with the protection of personal information. 

    3.2.4. KAYA 959 will keep records of all personal Information collected and the specific purpose for which it was collected for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

    3.2.5. KAYA 959 will not disclose any personal information relating to you to any third party unless your prior written agreement is obtained or KAYA 959 is required to do so by law. 

    3.2.6. If personal information is released with your consent KAYA 959 will retain a record of the information released, the third party to which it was released, the reason for the release and the date of release, for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

    3.2.7. KAYA 959 will destroy or delete any personal information that is no longer needed by KAYA 959 for the purpose it was initially collected, or subsequently processed. 

    3.3. Note that, as permitted by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002, KAYA 959 may use personal information collected to compile profiles for statistical purposes. No information contained in the profiles or statistics will be able to be linked to any specific user.    

    1. Collection of anonymous data

    4.1. KAYA 959 may use standard technology to collect information about the use of this website. This technology is not able to identify individual users but simply allows KAYA 959 to collect statistics. 

    4.2. KAYA 959 may utilise temporary or session cookies to keep track of users’ browsing habits. A cookie is a small file that is placed on your hard drive in order to keep a record of your interaction with this website and facilitate user convenience. 

    4.2.1. Cookies by themselves will not be used to identify users personally but may be used to compile identified statistics relating to use of services offered or to provide KAYA 959 with feedback on the performance of this website. 

    4.2.2. The following classes of information may be collected in respect of users who have enabled cookies: 

    4.2.2.1. The browser software used; 

    4.2.2.2. IP address; 

    4.2.2.3. Date and time of activities while visiting the website; 

    4.2.2.4. URLs of internal pages visited; and 

    4.2.2.5. referrers. 

    4.3. If you do not wish cookies to be employed to customize your interaction with this website it is possible to alter the manner in which your browser handles cookies. Please note that, if this is done, certain services on this website may not be available. 

    1. Security

    5.1. KAYA 959 takes reasonable measures to ensure the security and integrity of information submitted to or collected by this website, but cannot under any circumstances be held liable for any loss or other damage sustained by you as a result of unlawful access to or dissemination of any personal information by a third party. 

    1. Links to other websites

    6.1. KAYA 959 has no control over and accepts no responsibility for the privacy practices of any third party websites to which hyperlinks may have been provided and KAYA 959 strongly recommends that you review the privacy policy of any website you visit before using it further. 

    1. Queries

    7.1. If you have any queries about this privacy policy please contact us by emailing [email protected] 

    Competition Terms and Conditions

    • The competitions are open to all persons over the age of 18 years; except directors, partners, employees, agents, service providers, and consultants of Kaya 959, the sponsor and all its subsidiaries and its holding company, if any, as well as all spouses, life partners, parents, children, siblings, business partners and associates of such persons.

    • The outcome of the competition is subject to the decision of the judge/presenter, whose decision is final and no negotiation will be entered into thereafter. Neither Kaya 959, sponsors nor their agents will be held responsible or answerable to any dispute arising from the competition or prize awards.

    • Participants/listeners enter or take part in competitions at their own risk and Kaya 959 bears no responsibility for any loss, damage or harm suffered as a result of participation in any of Kaya 959 competition.

    • One listener is entitled to winning one prize in a period of 3 months. Kaya 959 reserves the right not to award a prize if the listener has won a prize prior during the 3 month window period. This also applies to listeners who provide family or friend’s contact details.

    • Kaya 959 reserves the right to redistribute all unclaimed prizes if not claimed after 3 months after being given away On Air or on the website.

    • Prizes are not transferable and may not be exchanged for cash.

    • Finalists will forfeit their participation in the competition if they fail to attend the draws.

    • The competition will run during the period advertised on Kaya 959; entries received outside of the competition period will not be considered for the competition draw.

    • Kaya 959 and their sponsors reserve the right to cancel, modify or amend the competition at any time if deemed necessary in their opinion, or if circumstances arise outside of their control.

    • By entering the competition, entrants agree to accept these rules and to be bound by them.