Deep sea divers have many reasons for going deep into the blue depths. Most of them do so to get close and personal with the plentiful schools of colorful fish. There are those who do so to get amazed with the variety and beauty of the corals. Others want to see for themselves how stunning, beautiful and diverse the fish life can be. And there are some people who dive to experience peace, as the deep sea is a surreal world full of calmness, unlike anywhere else on the land.
However, the ultimate experience for any diver would be to come close to the shark, which is the most famed predator of the sea. Yes, there are larger marine species, such as the whale and the squid, but to be quite frank, it’s never as thrilling or exciting to come close to them like it is for sharks. That is why Hollywood has come out with many movies on these beasts and that is why “Shark Week” has also been a popular program on TV. So get yourself an underwater camera, the best dive mask and get ready for an underwater experience with the sharks.
Cage diving with sharks is an option. Here, the diver, or a couple of them are lowered into the sea with sharks in them. Often the sharks circle the cage, and sometimes they even bite the cage to the horror of the divers. But this is largely absolutely safe. There is also the option of diving with sharks in aquariums. It is a popular sport at many places around the world. However nothing comes close to the real thing – diving with sharks in the open water, where there is nothing between you and the animal.
The Best Places for Diving With Sharks
- Miami Beach – You will get bull, tiger, lemon, and whale sharks, and hammerheads. The risk is medium to high. Most shark charters will take you 90 miles north of Miami for your open-water dives. You have to be a certified scuba diver.
- Belize – Dive off the coast of Belize for whale sharks. The risk is medium. Belize’s UNESCO protected barrier reef is one of the longest in the world and home to the giant but gentle whale sharks. They are particularly easy to spot during full moons in late spring. This is when the sharks come to feed on snapper spawn.
- Philippines – You will get blacktip reef sharks here. Risk is low. Even beginner divers can spot sharks here. Sometimes you can see them even with snorkeling.
- South Africa – This is one of the best places for the great whites. There is the option of cage dives here, where a bit of metal will separate you from the great whites.
- Australia – You will find the spotted Galapagos whaler sharks. Risk is medium. A pristine spot on the Great Barrier Reef, Lord Howe Island allows just 400 visitors at a time. So there is never a crowd. Take a flight from Sydney and reach in 2 hours.
- Sri Lanka – The coral reefs of Pigeon Island National Park is home to many blacktip reef sharks. This species likes to stay close to home, and so you are likely to see adults and juveniles together. Risk is medium to low.
- Tahiti – You can see hammerheads, silvertips, and gray sharks. Rangiroa, an atoll in the South Pacific, is one of the best diving spots in the world. Visibility is 150 feet. This is a high risk spot for shark diving.
- Turks and Caicos – Whale sharks, reef sharks, and lemon sharks are seen here. The risk is medium to high. You can dive with a marine biologist and dive master.
- Cape Cod – You can see blues, makos, threshers, great whites, and basking sharks. You can choose from open-water and cage diving. It can get daring, as this too is a high risk spot for shark diving.
- Mexico – One of the best spots for coming eye-to-eye with a great white in the Western Hemisphere is off the coast of Baja in Mexico. There are many tours that leave from the Isla Guadalupe. The risk is extremely high.
Basic Rules When Shark Diving
- Assume all unidentified fish are sharks – Not all sharks look like sharks, and some fish that are not sharks sometimes act like sharks. Unless you have witnessed docile behavior in the presence of blood, it is best to assume an unknown species is a shark. Inexperienced swimmers have faced trouble by assuming that docile behavior in the absence of blood indicates that the fish is not a shark.
- Do not bleed – Never bleed in the water. Experience shows that bleeding prompts an even more aggressive attack and will often provoke the participation of sharks that are uninvolved or are usually docile. Admittedly, it is difficult not to bleed when injured. However diligent practice will permit the experienced swimmer to sustain a serious laceration without bleeding and without even exhibiting any loss of composure. This haemostatic reflect can be conditioned, but there may be constitutional aspects too. Those who cannot learn to control their bleeding should not swim with sharks as the risk is too great. The control of bleeding has a positive protective element for the swimmer. The shark will be confused as to whether or not his attack has injured the diver. This is your advantage. The shark might know he has injured you and will be puzzled as to why you did not bleed or show distress. This also has a profound effect on sharks. They begin to question their own potency.
- Counter any aggression promptly – Rarely do sharks attack without warning. Usually there is some tentative, exploratory aggressive action. You should recognize that this behavior is a prelude to an attack and take prompt remedial action. The appropriate counter move is a sharp blow to the nose. Almost invariably this will prevent a full-scale attack, for it makes it clear that you understand the shark’s intention and are prepared to use whatever force is necessary to repel aggressive actions.
- Ingratiating attitude – Some swimmers mistakenly believe that an ingratiating attitude will dispel an attack. This is not correct. This response provokes a shark attack. Those who hold this erroneous view can usually be identified by their missing limb.
- Get out of the water if someone is bleeding – If a swimmer or shark is bleeding, then you should get out of the water quickly. The presence of blood and the thrashing of water will elicit aggressive behavior even in the most docile of sharks. This latter group, poorly skilled in attacking, often behaves irrationally and may attack uninvolved swimmers and sharks.
- Don’t rescue an injured swimmer – No useful purpose is served in attempting to rescue an injured swimmer. He may not survive the attack anyway. Your intervention cannot protect him blood is shed. Those who survive such an attack rarely venture to swim with sharks again.
- Use anticipatory retaliation – A constant danger to the skilled swimmer is that the sharks will forget that he is skilled and may attack in error. Some sharks have notoriously poor memories. This memory loss can be prevented by a program of anticipatory retaliation. The skilled swimmer should engage in these activities periodically and the periods should be less than the memory span of the shark. Thus, it is not possible to state fixed intervals. The procedure may need to be repeated frequently with forgetful sharks and need be done only once for sharks with total recall.
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