Top 8 Sharks You can Encounter in South Africa

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Shark diving in South Africa

South Africa hosts a wide array of species of sharks and propose some of the best shark diving experiences in the whole world. Different periods of the year consent to see different types of sharks. Let’s get to know them better:

A blacktip shark

Blacktip sharks

  • Overview: They are called “the Jack Russells of the Sea”, it’s definitely the most common and diffuse shark during the baited dives, they can reach up to 2.5 meters, are not shy at all and come very close to the divers.
  • Best location: Umkomaas – Aliwal Shoal and Shelly Beach – Protea Banks
  • Best period: All year round

Dusky Shark - Photo credit: Steve Garner

Dusky Sharks

  • Overview: Are the more easily spotted sharks during the Sardine Run, along the Wild Coast, similar in size to the blacktip, they are shyer and rarely come close enough for a good camera shot.
  • Best location: Kuala Zulu Natal Wild Coast, Port St. Johns
  • Best period: June and July

The smily sand tiger shark

Sand Tiger Sharks (Raggies or Ragged Tooth Shark)

  • Overview: Very quiet and sluggish during the daylight, you can spot these sharks on the reef during normal dives and, if you have good quick eye grasp, you might be lucky to find their teeth on the seafloor.
  • Best location: Umkomaas – Aliwal Shoal and Shelly Beach – Protea Banks
  • Best period: From November to May

The Zambesi Bull Shark

Zambezi Bull Sharks

  • Overview: Quite common to find during dives in Protea Banks, bull sharks – looking more like the tough guys of the family – can reach up to 3 meters, they move slower than the previous two and really enjoy sneaking at you back, thus resulting on you always wanting to keep an eye on them.
  • Best location: Shelly Beach – Protea Banks
  • Best period: November to September

Hammerhead shark - Photo credit: su neko

Hammerhead Sharks

  • Overview: Not so easy to spot, you have more chances to find them in Protea Banks but usually they just pass by without prolonging their visit to your baited dive.
  • Best location: Shelly Beach – Protea Banks
  • Best period: October to May

A tiger shark - Photo credit: Albert Kok

Tiger Sharks

  • Overview: These are really big guys, you can see individuals even of 4 or 5 meters long; they can swallow a whole basket of sardine during the baited dive, amazing and fascinating creature you will also want to keep a controlling eye on their whereabouts around you.
  • Best location: Aliwal Shoal, Umkomaas and Protea Banks, Shelly Beach
  • Best period: February to June

A great white shark underwater

Great White Sharks

  • Overview: The kings of the sea, rarely spotted during the dives, to observe them out closely you have to jump in a cage-diving-trip to the Seal Island near Cape Town or at Gansbaai.
  • Best location: Seal Island, False Bay and Dyer Island, Gansbaai
  • Best period: February to September

Seven gills cow shark

Seven Gill Cow Sharks

  • Overview: They need a mention too because it’s the only type of shark with 7 gill instead of the usual 5; it may be considered an interesting in-between link with the primitive sharks.
  • Best location: Pyramid Rock, False Bay
  • Best period: All year round


The sharks mentioned above and many other can be encountered during your dives and snorkeling along the South African coast and in the Sardine Run trip that we organise every year. Have you already met any of them? Let us know in the comments below.