Scuba diving has become a popular adventure sport today. And some are taking it up a notch higher by turning the experience into a shark-diving experience. There are many destinations in the world where you can have a mind-bending encounter with the sharks and still manage to stay sound and safe.
It may sound exhilarating, but is it safe to scuba dive with sharks? There are some incidents from which you have a greater chance of getting killed than by a shark attack.
Boating dangerously and being in a car accident is more lethal than a shark attack. It is estimated that 1.2 million people die in road accidents every year throughout the world. Whereas, just 5 people are killed by a shark attack every year.
Apparently, there is a higher chance of a person getting killed while driving to the diving site than while actually diving with sharks. Even boating accidents have killed 736 people in 2009.
Injuries caused to divers by sharks are rare. It is said that 100 people are injured by sharks every year worldwide. This number is exponentially less than the number of people injuring themselves while using a toilet. Many activities that we do in our daily life possess a varying amount of threat.
You should not be afraid of having one of the most memorable and breathtaking experiences of your life, just because there is a slight chance of danger.
However, you need to take preventive measures to keep yourself safe while scuba diving.
Here are some facts you need to know regarding a shark attack:
Provoked and unprovoked shark attacks – Before taking a dive with sharks, you need to know about the possible dangers you might face. An unprovoked shark attack is an attack that occurs in the natural habitat of a shark and is very rare. A provoked attack is something which is triggered by a human touch to the shark. You should be careful to not be in close vicinity of sharks.
Why do sharks attack surfers and not the ones who are scuba diving? – Surfing involves activities like splashing of hands and kicking of feet. These provocative activities are perceived by a shark as a “potential victim”. Also, a surfer can seem like a turtle or seal from below in the sea. On the other hand, a scuba diver’s movement of fins does not seem like an injured fish and is a gentle movement. Sharks are careful predators and they don’t hunt when they are unsure of their prey. Shark divers are like a large unidentified object to the sharks that they don’t understand and hence don’t attack them.
Now that you know that scuba diving with sharks is not that menacing as it sounds, here are some dive sites where you can enjoy this thrilling experience safely:
Aliwal Shoal & Protea Banks: These two reef formations in South Africa are one of the most popular places in the world for baited dives. You can encounter plenty of Tiger Sharks here.
Maldives: The Maldives is not only a paradise for divers but also for those who wish to swim in the proximity of sharks like Nurse Shark as well as the Reef Shark.
Australia: Australia is one of the best places to experience the world of sharks. You can also have the unique cage diving experience here.
French Polynesia: The number of people in this place is outnumbered by the total number of sharks. French Polynesia has world-class adventure facilities.
As discussed earlier, diving with sharks is pretty harmless. But following these tips is essential to make your diving experience a safe one:
1. Avoid flashy things while diving
Any kind of diving gear that is shiny and flashy is dangerous to wear. These materials attract the attention of a shark. The sharks mistake human beings for fish with glistening scales because of these materials. It is recommended that you should wear dark metals and blue or black colored suits and gear while diving.
2. The key is to stay calm
Remaining as calm as you can is one of the most important safety measures to take while diving. Unpredictable and inconsistent movements can possibly provoke the shark. Graceful and steady movements will only help you enjoy a peaceful dive and observe the sharks in their natural habitat.
3. Don’t leave your dive partner
While your dive with sharks, make sure that you stay with your group. Sharks tend to target solitary prey or a vulnerable individual. Staying with the group also helps when you are low on your oxygen supply.
4. No spearfishing around sharks
Spearfishing is one of the most dangerous things to do around a shark. The blood that comes out of a fish after you spearfish it can easily attract a shark from a considerable distance. If you are fishing in an area with no sharks and the blood manages to attract a shark, you should abort the activity immediately and swim back to the surface.
5. Avoid swimming close to mammals
Snorkeling or diving with a group of mammals can attract attention from a shark. As you are swimming in the vicinity of mammals, you could be mistaken for a natural prey by the sharks.
6. Timing is important
Many sharks are crepuscular and feed only at the time of dusk and dawn. Make sure to start and end your dive before the dusk and dawn.
7. Do a thorough study of all the species of shark
If you have a clear idea of the species you are dealing with, you know all the possible dangers and take all the preventive measures. Some sharks only feed on certain animals and some bite in case of a threat.
8. Don’t follow the sharks
Following a shark from behind can make it think that you are a predator. It may also result in a defensive attack from the shark.
Sharks are enormously beautiful and majestic creatures. Unfortunately, they have become an endangered species. Instead of fearing them, divers should revere in their presence. Millions of sharks are killed every year. They need to be protected now more than ever. It’s time to bring co-existence back and cherish the company of these glorious and magnificent creatures. Is it safe to scuba dive with sharks? Totally!