A man was fishing from a kayak off a Hawaiian island, unfortunately he died after being bitten by a shark. The incident was the latest in an alarming spate of shark attacks in the state this year. There have also been reported incidents in Western Australia and South Africa in 2013.
There is no double that sharks are potentially dangerous, wild animals that remain very difficult to tame. However did you know that; Wasps kill more people than sharks causing 100 deaths a year and also Toasters, chairs and domestic dogs all kill many more people each year than sharks do! (Toasters and chairs each kill around 600-700 people a year. Dogs kill approx. 50 people a year in the US alone. So that chair or your toaster you use is more likely to kill you than swimming in the sea where sharks are present. In fact only on average there are only around 10 deaths caused by sharks each year around the world. The majority of these are surfers or swimmers caused by mistaken identity. There are hardly any reported incidents with divers and those that there are, are mainly for a reason; such as spearfishing, chumming the water or making threatening actions towards sharks.
So is diving with Sharks dangerous?
Actually the answer is no, Sharks are amazing and powerful creatures. Although Sharks are carnivorous, they do not preferentially prey on scuba divers, or even humans. Sharks do attack humans, but such attacks are extremely rare! A person’s chance of being attacked by a shark in the US is 1 / 11.5million and the chances of being killed is less that 1 / 264.1millio.
Despite the recent tragedies, the risk of getting killed by a shark are so rare, you’re more likely to win the lottery than ever get bitten by a shark.
Every Christmas in the US, trees and decorations cause an average of 250 injuries and 40 fatalities, while sharks in the US are responsible for around one fatality every two years. So Americans are 80 times more likely to be killed by a Christmas tree, but nobody is hunting them down.
In fact, sharks have much more fear for human beings than we have to fear from them. Each year, fisherman kill as many as 73 million sharks, often cutting off their fins which are used in shark-fin soup, a very popular dish in Asia. And tens of million more sharks die accidentally each year because of fishing gear set for other species. The international Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that as many as a third of all shark species are threatened with extinction.
Why dive with sharks?
Shark diving can be one of the most peaceful, inspiring experiences of your life. Don’t let the myths behind shark diving fool you! Once done in the proper manner, shark diving can be a very safe and pleasurable experience in beautiful blue waters around the world.
I recall my first ever shark experience. I was on my first diving holiday to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt around August 2003. I’d only done about 20 dives by that point and the best thing I’d seen was some turtles and a few rays. However jumping off the back of the boat that day in Shark Reef changed my life forever. Descending down the reef wall we saw hundreds of huge barracudas circling like a hurricane view from outer space. We then noticed that there about five 2m long black tip sharks enjoying their breakfast. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest but after a few moments I realised that even though they were in feeding mode they had no interest in me or the other 20 or so divers that had now gathered round. I can’t explain my next action or even condone it, but for some reason myself and my buddy quickly descended to about 40m to suspend ourselves in the eye of the barracudas. From here we had the best 3D action movie in the world. The sharks were coming in and taking out the barracudas one-by-one. One shark swam straight past us with a huge grin and the head and tail of a large fish hanging out each side of its mouth. That was the day I decided to pack in my marketing job and seek a career in diving.
Shark diving is actually one the reasons why many sharks are still alive today. Shark tourism has helped instil laws to protect sharks. It is becoming more and more difficult to view sharks in their natural environment and with the continued demand to see them by divers around the world, sharks are actually protected in many sanctuaries as was as their own natural environment.
Unfortunately it is close to impossible to view sharks in their natural environment without offering enticement for them to visit. Despite popular belief, don’t forget that, sharks are more afraid of humans than you are of sharks and would prefer to avoid us if at all possible. When diving with sharks sometimes it is necessary to provide bait to attract the sharks and encourage them to stay so divers can experience swimming with them. Although the might seem wrong at first glance it all ties back to the important of preserving sharks and the fact that the more people who experience diving with sharks the more people who are willing to support the importance in protecting with endangered creatures. Above all else despite using bait to attract sharks, sharks are treated with respect and a sense of awe by divers who share a keen love of nature and preserving wildlife. As well, sharks are fed only fish that they would eat when hunting for food.
Is Shark diving only safe in a cage?
No, many people are concerned they must be in a cage in order to experience swimming with sharks. Sharks are quite disinterested in humans and when in the water with them they will avoid contact. Therefor a cage is not necessary. When diving with sharks, you are not looking for the same experience one expects at a zoo. People do not dive with sharks to touch them or ‘Ride’ them. Most people are too busy appreciating their grace and beauty and getting a good shot then they are with being bitten or attacked. However, the exception to the rule is the Great White. They aren’t mindless killers but do like an easy meal!
Where are the best places to go diving with sharks?
On our Diving Holidays website, we provide 100s of locations around the world for scuba diving, not just for diving with sharks but many other places with a variety of different species of creatures. Here are the best places for you go diving with Sharks:
· Great Barrier Reef
· South Africa