Baited dives with tiger sharks, Zambezi (bull) sharks and oceanic blacktip sharks are becoming a primary focus of many dive tours to the country and once again South Africa earns it’s place among the worlds top shark diving destinations. Baited shark dives were first introduced on Aliwal Shoal in around 2002 when the area became famous for it’s tiger sharks.
Baited dives on Aliwal Shoal are conducted without cages and the sharks are attracted to the area by the use of a baited ball or drum, the divers then enter the water on scuba to drift freely with the current, the sharks and the bait-ball. The baiting sites near Aliwal attract large numbers of Blacktips (C. Limbatus), with as many as 50 sharks around the bait-ball, there is constant action, while the presence of a tiger shark is always the highlight of the dive!
Baited dives on Protea Banks are a quite different experience. Protea banks is famous for it’s Zambezi (bull) sharks and with less blacktips in the area, Protea Banks may provide divers with the chance to witness more complex interactions between shark species. The Zambezi sharks are often attracted to secondary activity in a baited environment – game fish, other sharks and excited divers can stimulate their curiosity and suddenly the whole focus of the dive changes as the bull sharks take charge! Other species successfully attracted to a baited situation include, dusky sharks (C. Obscurus), bronze whaler and on rare occasions scalloped and great hammerhead sharks.
Diving with sharks in a baited situation offers divers a privileged opportunity to observe and study sharks and shark behaviour at close quarters for an extended period of time. Ever cautious the sharks will often begin a lengthy assessment process, closely investigating the divers and providing excellent photographic opportunities, before approaching the baited drum. Despite the sometimes deceptively slow movements of the larger sharks it must be remembered at all times that these animals are in a stimulated state. Diving in a baited situation is high energy shark diving!
The ethics of baited dives: Baited shark dives will always be a controversial subject and there are many arguments and misconceptions about the practice of shark baiting.
The shark diving industry plays a vital role in public education and shark conservation. We believe that baited dives with a responsible dive operator can help to inspire a passion for sharks and encourage a better understanding of these magnificent predators. Providing an economic value to the live animal through tourism is perhaps the only hope that many species of shark have of achieving any form of protective status.
Cage diving in KwaZulu Natal: For non-divers there is now an exciting new cage dive option available. If you’re unable to make it to Cape Town or you’d like to see different sharks, these cage dives in KwaZulu Natal offer regular sightings of tiger shark, Zambezi (bull) and blacktip (C. limbatus) sharks. Visit our dive tour pages for packages that include baited dives or allow us to create a custom tour for you with transfers and accommodation to suit your individual requirements.