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One of the most sought after diving experience is to dive with the 'Raggies' or Ragged Tooth Sharks. Their impressive size- up to 3.5 metres- and it's large protruding teeth give the impression of a ferocious 'man eater'. In Australia in years past, they created such fear that they were hunted almost to extinction.

The Raggie feeds mainly at night on fish and small sharks. It is an 'Ovoviparian cannibal'. The female produces 16 to 23 eggs but the babies eat their siblings until a single offspring per uteri of one metre length, is born.

Most sharks control their boyancy by means of a low density liver. The Raggie is heavier than water and uses the unique system of swallowing air at the surface which it holds in it's stomach to control it's buoyancy.

 

Every year between June and November, large numbers of Raggies congregate on Aliwal Shoal and it is often possible to dive with a dozen or more adult sharks. When they leave Aliwal, many of these sharks move up to Sodwana Bay and from January through sometimes to May, it is possible to dive with them on Sodwana's Quarter Mile Reef. Quarter Mile is only 10 metres deep which means that, in good conditions, even one star (open water) divers can experience these sharks and good light penetration means wide angle and video photographers can have ideal conditions. Unfortuneately being shallow and near to shore means that in rough seas, swurling sand in the water reduces visibility drastically.

In Southern Africa, far from fearing and menacing these superb creatures, the scuba diving fraternity understand that they offer us an unparalleled opportunity. The Raggies have areas, mainly in caves or overhangs where they feel secure during their non feeding daylight hours. If we respect their feelings of security and do not approach them directly, thet will normally remain immobile. Better yet if a diver releases air from his BC and resists himself totally immobile,the Raggies often become curious and will actually swim towards the diver and over him often close enough that a gentle tilt of your head will result in it touching the undersideofthe shark ....... that is quite something.

..Stephane Harge's Raggie videoJean Pierre Sorin's Raggie video

Where to see them

 Aliwal Shoal From June to November each year, Aliwal is home to huge numbers of Ragged Tooth Sharks. In the daytime, they rest on known reefs where they can be approached very closely in complete safety.

Protea Banks  Seen all the year round but huge numbers from June to November.

Sodwana Bay  From December to May, Raggies are normally common on Quarter Mile Reef. In December 2004, however, on the day the Raggies arrived, dozens of boats took out divers all day long and, not unnaturally, the Raggies fled.The KZN Parks Board are now controlling dives on the Raggies at Quarter Mile which we greatly appreciate as it allows real close up diving with them over a few months.

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