Conversation about Africa’s Big Five centers on the 5 most iconic species of the continent: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. But did you know that the vast ocean surrounding the southern tip of Africa is home to its own flagship species?

The Marine Big Five are the whale, shark, seal, penguin and dolphin. South Africa offers exceptional oportunities to view these animals all across the Western Cape Province from the Garden Route to Cape Town itself. These are the most popular sea animals of Southern Africa and ticking all five off your list is a must-do for any holiday to this beautiful country.

The Marine Big 5

  1. The African Penguin
  2. The Cape Fur Seal
  3. Dolphins
  4. Southern Right Whales
  5. The Great White Shark

Atil

5. The African Penguin

This diminutive creature, dapper in black and white plumage, has recovered from the brink of extinction. There are a few well established colonies dotted around the Western Cape of South Africa; Dassen Island, St Croix Island, Robben Island, Bird Island, Dyer Island and Boulders beach.

While St. Croix Island in Algoa Bay boasts the largest population in the world, and Robben Island is perhaps the most famous habitat for these birds, Boulders Beach is undoubtably the most memorable.

Paul Mannix

The penguin colony at Boulders Beach boasts almost 3000 birds so, whether walking the board walk or heading down to the beach, you are guaranteed sightings year round. Located in Simon’s Town roughly 45 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, Boulders has been rated as one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Unique Beaches.

In addition to the spectacular views across False Bay, visitors to this sheltered cove can not only get close to the penguins but actually swim with them! And if this kind of close encounter with the avian kind leaves you hankering after a more intimate experience, Sanccob, a penguin rehabilitation centre in Simon’s Town, offers private tours and voluntourism opportunities.

4. The Cape Fur Seal

John Mason

The Cape Fur Seal, famous for its soft brown fur, can be seen from Namibia, all the way down the west coast and past Cape Town as far as Port Elizabeth. In Cape Town they are a real tourist attraction at Hout Bay and Kalk Bay harbours and get a fair bit of attention at the V&A Waterfront too.

There is something comical about these lugubrious looking sea giants, sunning themselves and flumping about on their clown-shoe flippers. But its as they plop off dry-land and into the water that you get a sense of the playfulness, agility and speed of these aquatic mammals.

David Stanley

With this in mind I was thrilled to learn that you can actually go snorkelling with seals. Diving with Seals happens on the Atlantic side of Cape Town at Duiker Island in the Karbonkelberg marine protected area (part of Table Mountain National Park). The cooler waters of the Atlantic, shallow kelp forests and comparatively low number of seals (only 5000) mean that this is the perfect spot to interact with these wild animals.

While cautious on land, seals are famous for their curiosity under water.  They are known to approach humans and even swim alongside scuba divers. The trip from Hout bay is short and easy and the area, i am assured, is shark free! What better way to get to know these aquatic acrobats?

Tim Sheerman-Chase

If you’d rather not get into the water with the seals there are boat trips to many of the seal colonies dotted along the coast. Gansbaai is popular as a hub for all marine viewing and Geyser rock adjacent to shark alley is home to roughly 60,000 Cape fur seals. If that is a little small for you then you need to head for Kleinzee on the West Coast. Just north of Kleinzee is the largest on-land seal colony in South Africa boasting over 350 000 seals!

Jolene Thompson

3. Dolphins

Dolphins are synonymous with the ocean space and no trip is complete without at least one dolphin sighting. Luckily with the rich marine biodiversity along South Africa’s coastline you are sure to tick this one off your list fairly quickly! These aquatic mammals can be seen in both the Indian and Atlantic oceans, jumping in and out of the surf or on a specialist dolphin tour.

While South Africa is home to over ten dolphin species, the ones that you are likely to see swimming close to shore are the famous Bottlenose Dolphin, the Long-Beaked Common Dolphin and the shy Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin.

No other marine mamal inspires as much excitment and joy as they cavort through the water. The sardine run, which takes place between May and July, is a great time to see dolphins as they gather en mass to take advantage of the abundance of food. You can see pods of dolphins working together to herd the sardines into a “baitball”, which they push to surface and then feed on, a lot like sheep dogs herding sheep.

A less season specific option is to take a trip out to Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route. Plettenberg Bay has plenty of land-based viewing options but also opportunities to get really close by taking a boat cruise or, for those feeling a little more adventurous, a kayak tour into the big blue.

Jolene Thompson

South Africa has some of the best regulations controlling interactions with sealife and because human interactions adversely affect them, swimming with dolphins is strictly firbidden.

2. Southern Right Whales

Mazzali

At 16 meters in length, the shear size of these ocean giants is enough to drop anyones jaw. All along South Africa’s Western Cape coastline, between June and December,  whales can be seen as they move into the warmer  shallow waters to calve. The Whale Route includes various bays along the Garden Route and stretches from Cape Town to Cape Agulhas.

Sheltered bays like False bay and Hermanus are nurseries to the endangered Southern Right and Humpback Whales who can be seen playing, often a stones throw away from the shore.

Rolf Kleef

Southern Right whales, so named because they were considered to be the “right’ whales to hunt, migrate up from the cold waters of the antarctic to the warmer conditions of South Africa’s beautiful coastline. Here they can be seen playing just off shore, nurturing their young, waving their fins or bobbing their tails and, if you are lucky, you migt even get to see one of these 60 ton giants breaching out of the water to make a tremendous splash.

South African Tourism

Just over an hour and a half from Cape Town is the coastal town of Hermanus. It is one of the best places in the world for land based whale watching and boasts over 12km of cliff path walking where in places, whales can be seen from only a few meters away.

Hermanus is also host to the now famous Whale Crier, who announces the arrival of whales in the bay by blowing on his kelp horn. Considering that these gentle giants were once hunted to the brink of extinction it is a marvel to see them flourishing.

1. The Great White Shark

Isabel Sommerfeld

Top of the marine foodchain the Great White Shark unquestionably holds the number 1 spot. The largest fish species on earth, adult sharks reach between 4.5 and 6 meters in length, weigh about 2 and a half tons and can swim at almost 25km and hour … did I mention the several rows of ever regenerating serrated teeth?

The combination of speed, agility and raw power of the Great White make it a fearsome and feared predator AND a hot favourite for any sea safari.

Seeing the apex predator of the marine kingdom up close is without a doubt one of the most thrilling and humbling animal encounters on the planet. The Western Cape is one of the best places to see Great White Sharks at daringly close range, with hotspots including Seal Island in Mossel Bay, Dyer Island and Geyser Rock near Gansbaai, and the infamous Seal Island in False Bay, which is home to the “flying” Great White Sharks.

With impeccable ‘safety first’ regulations it is now more accesible than ever to get below the surface and into the sharks natural environment.

John Mason

Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list very little is known about these predators. Public opinion towards sharks is changing and companies like Marine Dynamics, operating out of Gaansbaai, run eco-tourism oportunities where conservation is at the heart of all activities. This means that your adrenaline pumping experience with the Great White contributes directly to the science of keeping them sfae and protecting white shark populations.

 

Source credit: www.africanbudgetsafaris.com

Great White Shark cage diving in Cape Town and Gansbaai, South Africa is the number 1 for most on their bucket list! This is one of the greatest experiences that you will ever experience being only inches away from a Great White Shark protected by a steel cage.

The best place in the world for the shark cage diving is Gansbaai at Shark Alley which is a channel of water between two Islands Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, 4 miles offshore from Kleinbaai. Geyser Rock has a huge population of 60,000 Cape Fur seals and Dyer Island hosts many bird species as well as a colony of Penguins. The boats work around both Islands and in the channel where the Great White Sharks roam. Fish heads, Pilchards, Anchovy oil and other fish products are used to entice the sharks to the boat.

The Sharks already in the area and the crew on the boat work hard to attract the sharks and keep them interested in the boat and the divers in the cage rather than looking for prey. Should you wish to see a Great White Shark launch ( breach ) out the water which is famously known in False Bay as ‘Air Jaws’ then Seal Island near Cape Town is the prime place in the world for this.

Shark Bookings has a selection of the best shark dive trips in the world. Easy to browse and book we specialise in giving you the dream dive with your preferred shark. Browse through our huge selection of shark tours and packages on this page to learn more.

Great White Shark Cage Diving Trip

Included
  • Breakfast on arrival
  • Drinks & Snacks on board
  • Light lunch After trip
  • All gear inclusive
  • Towels
  • Hot showers

Trip Summary

Should you be staying in Cape Town and are not driving to Gansbaai your shuttle will collect you from your hotel early in the morning. After an approximate 2 and a half hour ride you’ll arrive in Gansbaai at the shark diving crew house. Breakfast will be served at the crew house where you will be briefed on your trip. For those who have their own transport it is suggested that you stay over in Gansbaai to save the long drive on the day to your tour. We have a guesthouse in Gansbaai and can accommodate you or help you book in any other accommodation options.

Following breakfast at the crew house, take a short walk down to Kleinbaai harbour where all eight shark diving boats are based. During the winter months the boats will take a 15 minute ride out to Shark Alley and in summer time will go just off the beach where a suitable spot to anchor will be found.

Once anchored the crew will immediately start to chum the water with fish based products, like tuna and fish oil to attract the sharks. With the chum in the water all you can do now is wait for the first shark to arrive and hopefully this happens quickly. When the first shark is in sight the divers will kit up and get in the cage where they will be up close and personal with this fierce animal. It’s around this time when you will get a chance to get into the cage and share the waters with this extreme predator but there’s no pressure and if you wish to remain on the boat and not get into the cage you are welcome to do so. For those who don’t want to cage dive then viewing the sharks from the boat is exceptional and sometimes even better than in the cage.

After this amazing experience we will pass through the famous Shark Alley (In Season) where a colony of 60, 000 seals can be seen at Geyser Rock. Back at the crew house we will watch the video footage of the day and enjoy tea or coffee.

 

Contact details:

Mobile: +27 82 466 4519

Email us: enquiries@sharkbookings.com

 

 

For the adventure seekers, a little excitement and thrill is always on the cards when planning their activities on their vacation.

If your  vacation is in South Africa, then shark cage diving might be on your list of holiday activities.

Shark cage diving with great white sharks is becoming a growing trend in Cape Town. Tourists and locals simply enjoy getting close to the hunters of the sea.

If you’re thinking about going shark cage diving, there are a few safety tips you’ll need to know before making the big dive.

 

Shark Cage Diving Safety Tips

  1. For first time divers the entry into the cage can be a bit overwhelming but it must be done carefully to avoid injury.
  2. The safest entry technique is to make a controlled seated entry using both your hands to guide yourself into the cage.
  3. Be aware of your equipment and hands at all times as it could get crushed between the cage and the boat.
  4. Hold onto the cage with at least one hand at all times.
  5. Never extend your body out of the cage!
  6. Consider fellow divers in the cage with you and try to avoid collisions with them by remaining calm.

Shark cage diving is a tricky activity to plan as it remains dependent on the water and weather conditions of the day. Always be prepared as sometimes weather conditions become unsafe while out at sea and dives can often be cancelled at a moment’s notice.

The South African winter season from June to August is the best time to witness the breaching process but the rough sea conditions play an integral role in a successful dive. Breaching is a hunting technique of the great white shark. You can see them propel out of the ocean in pursuit of their prey. You’ll get to see one of the world’s most feared sea creature up close.

 

Source: traveldudes.org