Paws for thought
Hi again my friends!
It's almost Christmas, but there's no sign of a Christmas tree in team YP's office. What to do? (Apart from nagging the editors to do something about it.)
At least winter is here. As I see everyone wrapped up in scarves and caps 'n' gloves, it's hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago I was tanning my tummy on a shark boat.
I know what you're going to say: 'Leave the sharks alone!'
But I wasn't chasing them, promise! We were just inviting them for lunch. And this time it was the editor, Susan, who was going to be the bait.
Cue evil laugh by yours truly: Ah ha ha haaa! (Dennis starts coughing uncontrollably from all the deep-throated laughing.)
It was payback for her letting me become owl bait!
We got up very early to drive a long way to a place called Gansbaai ('Goose Bay'). There were 20 of us in all and we hopped on board the boat even before it was in the water. The boat was launched from a slipway near the beach, you see.
Sailing out through the waves was exciting, but several poor landlubbers ended up feeling icky by the time we got to our spot.
During shark diving, there are lots of ways to lure the sharks. You can entice them with scent - by sloshing some anchovy oil in the water. I could just imagine sharks sniffing and going 'Yum!'
You can also lure them with 'chum'. For you and me, that's bits and pieces of leftover meat and fish. It's mixed with sea water and slopped into the ocean.
Then it was lunchtime! The men on board announced it to the sharks - not with a dinner bell, mind you, but by banging on the boat's bottom. They also turned up the engines. Why all that ruckus attracts sharks is beyond me, but there you have it. It's one of life's mysteries.
Anyway, as I was sunning my tum, Susan slipped into a wetsuit and booties. After what seemed like an age - and a lot of people feeling seasick - the first fin was spotted. Five brave souls jumped into a shark-proof cage and it was game on. I'm as brave as any pup, as you well know, but I preferred to watch the action from above. Why always hog the limelight (or dog it, rather), right?
Susan was in the second lot of people down into the water, and by that time, there were two Great White sharks circling the boat. (Cue the creepy soundtrack from Jaws.)
But she was perfectly safe inside a cage - not like me when I was grabbed by that owl!
The divers wore masks so they could see under water. People on the boat threw out a bunch of big fish heads that were tied to a line. The sharks would try to bite on these, right in front of the cage, and sometimes they even wriggled out of the water.
Great White sharks are called Carcharodon carcharias, which roughly translates as 'I am king of the seas and if you want to swim where I swim I might take a bite out of you just to see if you taste like a juicy seal.'
A dictionary tells me it simply means 'ragged teeth' in Latin, but that can't be right.
Either way, you'd better stay clear of them. They have lots of teeth - like some 3,000 of them.