I chose the White Shark Diving Company due to favourable word of mouth comments I have from friends. The booking facilities, shuttle bus to the crew house and all the operations all professionally run and geared for safe and fun filled experiences. Not surprising since they have the most experienced skipper in these waters in Philip Colyn. Not to take anything away from their charismatic dive master Christi Lourens aka Bobbi, and their English and French speaking guide/ videographer Lalo Saidy. The drive is very scenic in their new bus with wifi on board. If in doubt about anything the experienced guide-driver, Anthony Tromp, known as Trompie, will answer all.
I track down the elusive owner, Nik Walsh, who is less well known in these parts, than his famous friends, the Great White sharks (Carcharius Charcaradon), and ask him the all familiar question ‘is this industry good or bad?’ Nik smiles and undoubtedly knows the Great Whites are better off because of shark cage diving. ‘ In 1991, South Africa was the first country to get the Great Whites protected after it was widely reported that the Great Whites were a Category Two listed Endangered Species. We actively protect these magnificent creatures and the seas that are their home. There is still a lot to do – with researching and canvassing against some improper conducts.’
I asked Nik about the controversial practice of chumming.
“I speak to various marine biologists and to put it into my laymans terms …….. The Great Whites are already in this area. We do not feed the Great Whites. I don’t believe we change their behaviour. I also don’t believe the sharks are getting associated to people. In fact no matter how inquisitive the sharks are, they do not go around attacking man.
Their food source is diminishing due to over fishing . I don’t believe sharks are looking at us, or that my industry is making sharks behave differently to people in any way. I pose the question, if we have stabilised the number of Great Whites by protecting them… and there are a hundred times more people in the water… and a hundred times less food compared to twenty years ago… is there a relative decrease in the number of humans killed by sharks?
When a Great White shark comes to a boat, it does not see the individual humans in the cage or on the boat. It sees the boat and cage as one. It might be clever enough to pick up the heart beat of the most nervous diver in the group and head that way out of interest. But I do not believe they are getting to familiarize themselves to man.
Fishermen have been chumming for hundreds of years I don’t believe sharks are associating boats to food, either. And if they were associating anything, it would be the boat. It’s not like sharks are going around chasing boats.”