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A Journey Among Giants – Encountering Sharks and Nature’s Wonders in Gansbaai, South Africa

Sharks, one of the most dangerous animals in the ocean. This ancient creature ruled the primordial ocean in the Jurassic era, survived dinosaurs, numerous natural disasters and extinctions, and is still one of the overlords of the ocean today. Human beings are full of fear of sharks, but they are also plundering and killing sharks endlessly. In some Nordic countries, preying on sharks has a history of hundreds of years. Sharks can be said to be full of treasures. Shark liver is the main raw material for cod liver oil; shark skin is made into special leather; shark teeth and spine are made into fashionable jewelry; shark fins can be made into expensive shark fin soup; shark meat is made into meat Canned or turned into fertilizer… Such a high economic value made the hunting of sharks reach its peak in the last century. Although many countries and international organizations call for the protection of sharks, and our country calls for the end of eating shark fins, the killing of sharks in some countries is still Repeatedly prohibited.
But on the movie screen, sharks have “revenge” on humans: In 1975, the movie “Jaws” directed by the famous director Steve Spielberg was released, which caused a sensation worldwide and earned nearly 500 million US dollars. At the box office, it set a new record for the movie box office at the time. Many of the filming techniques and methods of creating a terrifying atmosphere in this film are still borrowed by many directors today. The movie “Jaws” also evokes people’s new fear of sharks, an ancient creature. Sharks have also become frequent visitors of horror and disaster movies. “Shark” and so on, there are endless movies about sharks.
This summer, the movie “Megalodon 2” co-starred by Chinese actor Wu Jing and American action star Jason Statham was released worldwide, and achieved a good result at the box office in its first weekend. With the release of this movie, Sharks are “hot” again. Many people book tickets for the aquarium after leaving the cinema, hoping to experience the shock of sharks again in reality. However, for some travelers, seeing some small sharks through the glass of the aquarium is obviously not enough to satisfy their appetite. Getting up close and personal with the most ferocious great white shark is a game for the truly brave.

South African penguins are very small, weighing only 2-5 kg.

The African small-clawed otter is also a small guy.

The African black oystercatcher is a medium-sized wading bird with black plumage and a red bill.

Gansbaai is also home to seabirds.

Southern right whales migrate to the southern hemisphere in June, where plankton populations are more abundant.
bloody hunting history

Gansbaai is located at the southern tip of South Africa, about 160 kilometers from Cape Town, the second largest city in South Africa. This little-known little city is the ultimate travel destination for those who love wildness, adventure and the ocean. The waters near Gansbaai are the most densely populated area of ​​great white sharks in the world. In addition, bull sharks, great blue sharks and other ferocious sharks often appear in this waters, which can be said to be dangerous, and the most famous tourist project here is precisely It’s just cage diving to watch sharks. Do you think of the picture in the movie “She Who Disappeared”? Coming face-to-face with a ferocious shark is sure to be the thrill of a lifetime.
The Gansbaai area has traces of human activities dating back to the Stone Age. Settled here by the Khoisan people about 2,000 years ago, they lived from hunting and fishing and developed a unique culture and tradition. In 1497, Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias sailed here from the Indian Ocean and named it “Sdruber”, but the complex and harsh hydrological environment in the area prevented the explorers from staying. The area wasn’t actually colonized by Europeans until centuries later. In the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company began to operate in the area. Here they set up a sealing station for furs and other products. Because there are often a large number of Egyptian geese, it is named Gansbaai (Gansbaai), which means “goose bay” in Afrikaans (that is, Afrikaans). This hunting station soon attracted more colonists and explorers. The British captured the area after defeating the Dutch in the early 19th century, incorporating it into their colonial system.
Over time, Gansbaai developed into a center of fishing and agriculture. Local residents began growing grapes, olives, and other crops, and exported seafood in large quantities. For nearly three centuries, seals were the biggest victims in this area. Colonists hunted seals wantonly on Seal Island in False Bay, and then used a long rope to string the slaughtered seals from Seal Island to on board and then transported back to Gansbaai for processing.
Many people believe that it is precisely because the seal meat and oil leaked from ships transporting seals has attracted a large number of sharks that the Gansbaai waters have become a “cafeteria” for sharks. With more and more sharks, local people gradually began to kill sharks to meet market demand. Later, with the development of tourism, the killing of sharks eased.

It is hard to describe in words the shock brought to people by the aura of the overlord of the ocean when seeing ferocious behemoths swimming straight towards them in the sea, and sometimes sharks would hit the iron cages.

The Legend of the Submarine

Along South Africa’s southern waters, from False Bay to Gansbaai, “submarine” is a word that is often mentioned, and many people think it is a tourism project, where you can take a transparent submarine to watch sharks. But shark fans know that the “submarine” is actually a legend in this sea area, a super great white shark that is said to be the most terrifying in this sea area-for nearly 40 years, the “submarine” has always been a legend in this sea area. The nightmare of the sea people. The Americans once produced a documentary titled “Sharks in the Dark: The Fury of Submarines”, which fueled the legend of “submarines”, and to some extent also made monsters such as “deep-sea giant sharks” and “prehistoric giant sharks” The Shark Movie provided the inspiration.
There are various opinions about when the “submarine” appeared, and even the guide referred to the statement in the documentary: In June 1970, a fishing boat was fishing in the Firth of Forth, and a crew member’s hand was cut by a rope Wounded, bleeding into the sea. At this time, a crew member discovered a huge creature lurking in the sea water. Judging by the tail, it was a huge shark, and it seemed to be attracted by the smell of blood. The crew believed the gigantic shark was 9 meters long, a figure that far exceeds what people know about the shape of the great white shark. The huge shark has been following their fishing boat and is ready to attack at any time. It wasn’t until the crew cut its left eye with a harpoon that it was forced to flee. In 1975, the radar of a warship discovered a huge object in the water. At first people thought it was a submarine, but later it was judged to be a huge shark, so people named it “submarine”. Although there is no evidence that this is the same giant shark that people saw 5 years ago, people naturally link the two because of their huge size.
Later, there were more and more sighting reports about the “submarine”: some people said that the “submarine” was hooked with a fishhook, but after a long fight, it finally escaped; The fishing net was trapped, but the huge shark broke the hull and escaped; in 1996, a fisherman claimed that when he and his younger brother were catching abalone, the younger brother’s hand was scratched by the propeller and then dragged into the bottom of the sea by a “submarine”. Lost in Huangquan… All these eyewitness reports have one thing in common, that is, there is a scar under the left eye of this huge shark, which is consistent with the statement of the fishermen who first witnessed it, so people naturally believe that the “submarine” is a huge shark. The ghosts of the deep sea have been hovering here.
The most frightening rumor happened in 2014 when a whale watching ship ran aground near Seal Island. 22 passengers and crew jumped out of the boat and waited for rescue in the sea. Soon another whale watching boat received a distress signal and rushed to the sea area where the incident occurred. At this time, people realized a terrible situation. The sea area waiting for rescue is the “shark channel”. People on the rescue boat found that shark fins were constantly gliding across the sea, and the blood shed by a crew member after being bitten caused the sharks in the sea to boil. However, strange things happened. People found that the excited sharks seemed to disappear suddenly, as if they were fleeing after seeing something terrible. People speculated that there might be more ferocious predators in the water. The tourists were suddenly dragged into the seabed, and even the buoys disappeared, and another tourist screamed in despair, and was dragged into the sea and disappeared. It is believed that the accident that killed two tourists was caused by a “submarine boat”. “Masterpiece.
In this way, “submarine” became an “urban legend” on the southern coast of South Africa. If it had been hundreds of years earlier, this legend might have come true, but “submarine” has caught up with the Internet age of information explosion.
After the documentary was aired, some people raised doubts. First, people discovered that there was no news of a whale watching ship running aground in South Africa in 2014. In addition, Seal Island and “Shark Channel” are not in the same place at all, and the distance between the two places is 100 kilometers. about. Later, netizens picked up more and more suspicious points, such as the traces of computer synthesis in many “submarine” photos; even the names of the shark experts in the documentary are fake; even some witnesses are extras. …People began to suspect that this documentary was a pseudo-documentary mainly for entertainment and speculation, and people tended to think that this giant deep-sea shark was a story fabricated in the 1970s to attract tourists.
However, “submarine”, a topic that has lasted for more than 40 years, has long been integrated with the lives of local people. When I “badly” asked the tour guide whether the “submarine” was real or not, the tour guide just shrugged his shoulders and replied, at least in the lives of the locals, “submarines” always exist.
Up close and personal with sharks

The winter in South Africa is the most active period for great white sharks. May to August is the peak tourist season in Gansbaai. In addition to hotels and restaurants, the largest number of travel agencies in Gansbaai are large and small travel agencies. As a signature project, cage diving and shark watching are also placed in the most prominent position by all travel agencies. However, the place to watch sharks is the same, which is the sea area called “Shark Channel”.
For the iron cage diving and shark watching project, every tourist must fill out the consent form and sign the corresponding insurance documents. Although I know this tourism project is very safe, I still feel a little bit drummed in my heart. When I sign, I feel like signing a “life and death certificate” . Afterwards, I had to listen to the staff to explain the precautions and safety reports, which may be caused by the fear of sharks in my bones, and everyone listened attentively. After that, all the tourists came to the pier by car, and the exciting shark watching tour officially began.
Most of the boats of travel agencies are double-decker small yachts of more than ten meters. It may be that the huge sharks in horror movies are too popular, even if they see all kinds of safety facilities and lifeboats on board, they are not at ease. Because we will be sailing on the sea for a period of time, some fruits, bread and so on are prepared on board, but most people can’t eat it, on the one hand because of nervousness and excitement, on the other hand because the wind and waves in this water area are really not small . On the way to the Shark Channel, you are not alone at all. Many seabirds gather beside the boat. The honest seabirds catch fish steadily, the smart ones wait for tourists to feed them, and some simply stare at the food on the boat. , to see if I could snatch a piece of bread from the people for a change.

At Gansbaai Beach, all the colors become obscure in an instant, and there is a paradise for great white sharks hidden under the gray-green sea.

When the boat arrived at the “Shark Channel”, the staff on board began to get busy, and kept scattering the cut fish pieces into the sea. The reason why fish pieces were used instead of whole fish was to hope that the smell of blood in the seawater would be strong. Some. It may be because of the long-term operation of this kind of “tacit understanding” between people and sharks. Generally, sharks will appear after the fish is thrown down for a while. waiting. At this time, the staff will remind tourists to change into diving equipment quickly, after all, no one knows how long they will stay. Each cage can probably sit

7-8 people, tourists who dare not go down to get in close contact with sharks can also stay on the boat to watch. After tourists enter the iron cage, the staff should check it carefully. After confirming that there is no problem with the cage, they will slowly lower the cage into the water on the side of the ship until the whole cage sinks into the sea. At this time, you can prepare various shooting equipment , and pray that the sharks will appear soon.
When I was on land, I knew that the winter in South Africa was still very cold, but it was only after I went down to the sea that I really felt how cold the sea in winter is: when my feet just touched the water, I was already freezing, my whole body When I was submerged in the water, I only felt “biting icy water hitting my body hard”, and the cage was submerged in the water for a few minutes, and my teeth were already chattering. Although the body was shivering from the cold, but the brain did not stop for a moment. The images that appeared in the mind were huge sharks crashing into the iron cage in horror movies, and everyone became the shark’s lunch. In the released movie “She Who Disappeared”, she was left in the deep sea…
As expected, it is the peak season for shark watching. Not long after we went down, a shark swam near the cage. It’s a great white shark! Seeing the great white shark at close range, the first feeling is fear. Seeing several ferocious giants swimming straight towards the cage, the shock brought by the aura of the overlord of the ocean is indescribable in words. Especially sometimes sharks will hit the iron cage, even the courageous people can’t help being frightened. There is a popular science article saying that sharks can sense people’s fear through some kind of radio waves. Although it is not known whether it is true or not, it is difficult for people to Don’t be afraid to face them. Of course, after the shock and fear, there is excitement. This kind of immersive experience of being in close contact with sharks cannot be experienced in the aquarium anyway. The excitement directly made the adrenaline soar, and even the body forgot to tremble, wishing not to blink, for fear of missing every moment of close contact with the shark. The same goes for other people in the same group. They don’t even look at the screen when taking pictures, and just shoot at the shark for a while. The staff on the shore are also experienced in many battles. They tie fish blocks on thick ropes and swing them back and forth in the water, luring the sharks to stay here for a long time, so that the tourists in the cage can see enough. If they are lucky, they can also take pictures. Seeing the way the sharks opened their mouths, I watched these guys open their bloody mouths from a close distance. The three rows of sharp teeth in their mouths were like sharp knives. At this moment, there is only awe in my heart for nature and sharks, the overlord of the ocean.
Back on the boat, everyone was exchanging excitedly while wiping their bodies. The excitement was beyond words. The shock brought by the shark is indeed worth recalling for everyone in the cage for a lifetime.

Wildflowers bloom along the coast below the Cape Danger lighthouse.
Gansbye besides Sharks is also moving

The waters in southern South Africa are at the junction of the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Stormy waves are the norm, so the nearby Cape of Good Hope was originally named “Cape of Storms”, and the waves here are called “Killer Waves”. False Bay near Gansbaai is also the confluence of the cold Benguela current and the warm Agulhas current, which brings a large number of fish migration and colony habitat. The rich marine resources have brought together more than 13,000 species in this sea area. Different sea creatures. Therefore, sharks are not the only ones in Gansbaai, just like the “Big Five” in Africa (African lion, leopard, African elephant, black rhinoceros and African buffalo), people also created the “Ocean Five” for Gansbaai. Concept: Sharks, whales, dolphins, penguins and seals respectively.
The peak season for whale watching is between May and December, when southern right whales migrate between the nutrient-rich waters of the Southern Ocean and the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean, passing along the Gansbaai coastline. Walker Bay is also a place where they mate and give birth, which provides excellent observation opportunities. You must know that southern right whales living in cold waters are one of the most difficult to encounter whales. The abundance of food makes dolphins often appear here. On the way to watch whales or sharks by boat, you can see these lovely sea elves from time to time.
Dale Island is a breeding ground for the endangered South African penguin and a sanctuary for South African penguins and seabirds. Originally, this place was an ideal home for South African penguins because of its isolated location and abundant food, but frequent oil spills in this sea area have brought catastrophe—every accident will cause thousands of South African penguins to live together. Tens of thousands of penguins died, and the penguin population on Dale Island dropped from 72,500 in 1976 to fewer than 1,000 today. Fortunately, people made up for it and set up a sanctuary near Dale Island to help South African penguins rebuild their homes. Needless to say, seals, many islands including Seal Island are the habitats of seals. After hundreds of years of slaughter by colonists, the number of seals near Gansbaai was once in danger. Until recent years, the population of seals has recovered.
Gansbaai is also part of the Cape Flower Reserve, which is known as one of the areas with the richest terrestrial ecological diversity in the world and one of the six flower kingdoms in the world. It was included in the world by UNESCO in 2004. heritage list. The Walker Bay Nature Reserve in the north of Gansbaai is the best place to explore this plant kingdom. The complex terrain conditions, Mediterranean climate and periodic fires make it have a unique plant landscape. Walker Bay Nature Reserve is not only a paradise for plants, but also animals, where you can find the endangered African black oystercatcher and African clawless otter. The beautiful environment here is also an excellent location for hiking, fishing and seaside vacations. Another option for viewing plants is to go to the Plattebos Forest Walk, which is the southernmost forest in Africa. In this green maze, there is also a series of activities including kayaks, quad bikes and golf courses. A series of entertainment facilities.
In addition to the natural landscape, the cultural landscape of Gansbaai is not far behind. Clipgart Caves is a world-class archaeological site, and the rich food resources in the caves, springs and nearby ocean made it an ideal place for humans to live in ancient times. These huge caves have been home to humans since the Neolithic age. Here, you can visit the huge caves along the road paved with wooden boards, and feel the living environment of people in ancient times.
Cape Danger Lighthouse is also a scenic spot of great cultural value, located about ten kilometers south of Gansbaai. The reason for this name is that this sea area is indeed very dangerous for navigation. Needless to say, the stormy waves and underwater coral reefs and rocks also bring great risks to the navigation of ships, not to mention that it is still a big white sea. A gathering place for sharks. More than 140 ships have been wrecked in this area, and thousands of people have lost their lives by the sea.
The most famous of these is the 1852 shipwreck of the Birkenhead. It is famous because it was the first ship to enforce the priority escape of women and children. At the time of the accident, more than 400 men on board allowed all the women and children to board the lifeboats first, and all survived, while most of the men perished in the sea. Later, giving women and children priority in the event of a maritime accident became a globally recognized code of honor. For the safety of passing ships, a 60-meter-high octagonal lighthouse was built here in 1895, which is the Danger Point Lighthouse. In memory of the noble spirit of the men on board the Birkenhead, a monument is inlaid in their honor in the lighthouse.
At the end of the last century, another man with a noble spirit became attached to this lighthouse. This man named Kuss began to guard the Danger Point Lighthouse alone for 9 years as a lighthouse keeper in 1986. During this period, he not only fulfilled his duties He has done his work conscientiously and actively participated in animal protection and ship rescue operations. In 1994, he was awarded the honor of the best lighthouse keeper of a single lighthouse on the coast of South Africa, becoming the first winner of this award since its inception. To this day, the lighthouse is still in use, but all the facilities have been controlled through automation. However, this lighthouse still attracts countless tourists to visit.
In Gansbaai, people replace hunting with protection, and replace endless plunder with the harmonious development of man and nature. The stormy sea is still dangerous, just as the creatures here are still dangerous to this day. But people’s efforts are like a lighthouse. As long as it can continue to shine, as long as the noble spirit can continue, the big ship that humans and nature ride together will surely overcome the crisis and set sail.