Swimming With Sharks

Written by Petter Wehlin – iX Coding ’14, Yale

The most memorable couple of seconds of my stay in South Africa was when I saw my first Great White Shark. I had looked forward to the moment for a long time simply because I love sharks. I’m fascinated by the way these animals represent both grace and power; by calmly swimming around, just occasionally showing off why they are the most dangerous fish in the sea. On top of this emotional fascination, I’m also impressed by them in capacity of a prospective mechanical engineer.

Every man-made water vehicle, be it Jet Ski or a submarine, looks poorly designed next to the shark. Only nature has been able evolve the streamlined muscle packages equipped with strong fins and hypersensitive senses, that we call sharks. They seem to be the ultimate solution to physical superiority in the sea.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the biggest of the predator sharks, the Great White, is the pinnacle of my fascination, and that I was excited to go shark cage diving. When I saw the event in the iXperience program last fall I stopped looking for other summer opportunities. I couldn’t believe that on top of learnin, the cultural exchange and the amazing people, I could get to see wild Great White sharks. Now I believe it because it happened this Saturday at Geldsteen, right by other world-famous spotting locations. Surprisingly soon after we lay anchor, a 4 metre female Great White swam up to the side of the boat. It will be long before I forget that moment of excitement. furthermore, I soon got to jump into the cage that was attached to the boat and see the shark and its friends from underneath the waters surface. It turned out to be a real show as a total of 7 different Great white sharks, between 2 and 4.5 m in length, showed up and chased chum controlled by a staff member on board.

I lost myself in the moment and in my fascination for the animals in front of me. I enjoyed the moment for a long while until one of the bigger sharks lost interest in the chum for a couple of seconds. It turned around and swam towards the cage with its black eyes fixed on me. I suddenly became very aware of the situation and thankful for the thick steel cage I was in. Without that cage I would not have written this blog post.

And as thankful as I am towards that steel cage, I am towards iXperience for giving me the opportunity to go shark cage diving.