Still from video footage

Eventful Dive at Shark Alley

On Saturday afternoon we dived at Shark Alley in front of Pyramid Rock, home to Cape Town’s broadnosed sevengill cowsharks. The visibility was not great, perhaps 4 metres, and there was a lot of cloud cover.

The entry is always a little tricky but if you go in on the sand and keep your footing it’s a breeze. About 6 – 7 minutes into the dive we saw our first shark and a few minutes later we were in the area known as Shark Alley.

Clare and I both had cameras and we were sitting on the sand when a frisky metre and a half female started to be a bit pushy. She nipped at Tami’s fins, and then bit me on the back of my head. I had a loose hoodie on the back of my wetsuit that possibly seemed edible but I felt the bump. Having just checked on the group behind me I knew it was not a kick from one of the divers.

Still from video footage
Still of the pesky cowshark from my video footage

As I turned to see what it was she came in really close to Clare, almost rubbing her sleek body against Clare. The shark did a quick turn and came right in between Clare and I and bit on Clare’s pillar valve. I pushed her away, concerned she would puncture a hose, and this did not make her happy. She did another tight turn and came straight at me snapping her jaws, and tried to taste my camera. She then came in again and needed a bump to turn her away. We quickly retreated and gave her some room but she slowly followed us for another 10 minutes, not keen to give up her game.

Still from video footage
Still from my video footage

The behavior of this one shark seemed to excite several others and during this short period there were certainly many more sharks a lot closer whilst this was going on. I don’t think the shark was being aggressive, more likely playful or very inquisitive, but nonetheless a cause for some really heavy breathing and elevated heart rates among our small group of divers. Despite their seemingly placid and languid movements the sharks can and did become very excited, and moved very fast around us whilst staying close to us. This is just a reminder: they are high on the food chain and should not be underestimated.

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Scuba diver, teacher, gadget man, racing driver, boat skipper, photographer, and collector of stray animals