I am embarrassed to say, but I got way too deep into my long-legged immortal life without ever seeing a wild shark; it weighed on me, man! My brain started to hatch out plans on how I could go about seeing one without, ya know, having my gorgeous face eaten. That is when I found these guys.
Thus, I got myself to Cape Cod and arrived at exactly the spot that I was told to meet the captain and my fellow divers. And then I saw it, that beautiful shark cage! Or, the human cage if you are a shark.
Okay, this was really happening; I was SO excited! We boarded the boat and headed out to the open ocean (this is a pelagic dive, which is different from a near shore dive – different sharks for different parts of the ocean). The nervous excitement of riding on the waves thinking about what kind of magnificent beasts that we would see was palpable. I mean, who wouldn’t be excited to come face to ampullae of lorenzini with a shark?
When we got far enough out to sea the captain started to chum the water to attract any open ocean lovelies that were on the muscle looking for a meal. While chumming, he spun wonderful tales of his time on the USS Indianapolis, which warmed the cockles of the heart.
My thoughts on chum: it is as disgusting and stinkerific as you would expect semi-rotten fish detritus to be. And that is above water! When you are in the shark-cage there is still tons of chum floating around. Note to readers: keep your mouths closed whilst in the cage to prevent chum from entering your mouth. You are welcome!
The cage is lowered into the water and then you wait. Then, without fail something beautiful and murderous shows up. At that point the divers swallow whatever nervousness they have and hop on in the cage, that glorious cage; the cage to protect the sharks from the humans.
In the open ocean one might come across blue sharks, mako, thresher, and even the porbeagle. We hit the blue shark jackpot!
My thoughts on what it is like to be in the shark-cage in the water with sharks: it is cold. I was too much of a lard-lad to fit into the wet-suits that were provided. Being super amped up for the experience, I toughed it out in the cage, but the Atlantic is definitely a cold mistress. Otherwise, it was amazing! There really is no danger from the sharks unless you stick your hands out of the cage to maybe try and cope a feel. You do bob quite a bit as the waves are moving you, the boat, and the cage, but the captains won’t take you out if there is a chance of you getting smashed to pieces. It is bad for business, you see.
The first time you see the flash of scales and that sharky profile…chilling and exhilarating! So, why no underwater pics of the sharks? The Atlantic off of Cape Cod is dark. You only have about 10 feet of visibility before it gets too dark for photographs. Also, it is not like the sharks are posing. They hit the bait pretty hard and dash away. Also-also, holding onto the cage with one hand, trying to keep all of your bits inside of the cage, bobbing up and down with the waves, and trying to take a picture of a moving target is about as difficult as it seems.
I was quite impressed with how well the sharks behaved while eating one at a time (unlike people in my family). When they filled up with disgusting fish parts, they would disappear into the void from whence they came to not doubt lay down on the couch for a snooze. I would guess that we saw a good 15 different sharks ranging from 6-12 feet.
After a few hours we headed back to shore.
On the way back to the marina we passed Monomoy, which is home to a massive gray seal colony. Cape Cod is currently undergoing a Great White shark renaissance thanks to that booming food source Hey, that is a lot of meat on that beach and someone has to eat it.
Ultimately, I found the experience to be as amazing as I wanted it to be. I am definitely planning on doing it again in another warmer locale. If any of you are considering doing it I cannot recommend it enough. And, if you get chum in your mouth don’t say I didn’t warn you!