We all love Shark Week. Here’s the great news: it doesn’t have to end! Just because the Discovery Channel only has one week of programming doesn’t mean you can’t follow 30 Rock icon Tracy Jordan and “live every week like it’s shark week.” You just need to leave home to do so.
With travel as your guide, you can go cage diving off the coast of Baja, watch sharks breach in South Africa, or even create your own scuba diving shark week in Palau. Here are some great trips you can take that put you up close and personal with sharks.
The Graveyard of the Atlantic, North Carolina
With over 2,000 sunken ships, the Graveyard of the Atlantic in North Carolina has the densest population of shipwrecks on the East Coast. There are boats ranging from World War One gunboats to German U-boats to tankers. This artificial reef attracts all kinds of marine wildlife, including a variety of fish and sand tiger sharks. Olympus Dive Center arranges dives around the wrecks, which lets you see the sharks up close. If that’s too tame for you, try the Offshore Twilight or Night Dive–it’ll give you an underwater experience you’ll never forget.
Shark Week with Palau Dive Adventures, Palau
Palau Dive Adventures offers its own version of Shark Week. With three dives a day for a week, you can experience the beauty of Palau above and below the water. Drifting with the current, you will be able to see schools of grey reef, black tip, and white tip sharks. Each day consists of unique diving experiences, which include diving spots such as Blue Holes, Turtle Cove, and Jellyfish Lake. On the last day, you end with a dive in Shark City.
PADI Rebreather Diving in The Red Sea, Egypt
If you’re a certified PADI Rebreather diver or want to be, check out the Professional Underwater Rebreather Explorers (PURE) Red Sea Diving College. In addition to providing courses, PURE Diving takes advantage of one of the best places to dive—the Red Sea. Since it’s a big diving spot, they have hand-picked rare places to dive where you’re more likely to see sharks. That’s where the rebreather comes in. It’s much quieter and releases no bubbles, so sharks won’t bolt when they hear you coming.
Some of the breeds you can expect to see are Whitetip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, and Scalloped Hammerheads. Other uncommon and rare sharks you might be able to see are the Oceanic Whitetips, Zebra Sharks, Pelagic Thresher Sharks, Silky Sharks, and Whale Sharks. Only once have they seen a Snaggletooth Shark. PURE Diving can set up expeditions, but will also assist if you want to shoot a documentary. Of course, listen to what the dive leaders say about how you approach the sharks, since some of them can scare easily.
Cage Diving off Guadalupe Island, Mexico
The Nautilus Explorer is a live-aboard dive boat that takes you out to Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja, which boasts some of the best great white sightings in the world. Trips are typically six days and five nights, and the crew operates four different cages at varying depths that allow you to see great white sharks up close. The boat arrives the night before diving begins, so you can get a chance to relax and get a good night’s sleep before the diving cages open at 6:30 am the following morning.
Each day, you can feel free to watch the great whites as much as you want. The cages at lower depths can only be visited by PADI-certified divers as much as three times a day, but the two shallower cages are unlimited. With visibility anywhere between 125 and 150 feet, you have prime viewing ability. And since no chum, oil, or blood is used to attract attention, the sharks are more relaxed and curious, so they’re more likely to get even closer to the cages than normal. On the last day, the cages close at 5 pm before the boat heads back to the mainland.
Shark Breaching in Cape Town, South Africa
If you’re not PADI certified or don’t feel comfortable in a cage, don’t worry. You can still take advantage of seeing sharks in their native environment without having to go below the water. From June through August, African Shark Eco Charters in South Africa has shark breaching excursions. Just like whales, great white sharks breach, or shoot themselves completely out of the water, as a form of catching prey.
Since this typically occurs early in the morning, African Shark Eco Charters sets out before sunrise and returns after noon. The goal is for all visitors to have a personal experience, so each trip only holds about twelve people. If you do want to go into the water, shark cages are available with scuba gear.
By Stephanie Ervin for PeterGreenberg.com