Shark diving has become a big attraction in more than 29 countries around the world. A reinforced metal cage is suspended in the water while divers float near the sharks. The shark is drawn near the cage through trails of chum, baited hooks, and seal decoys, allowing people to experience the visceral feeling of sharing close space with one of the world’s most dangerous predators.
But some videos such as the footage of this potentially deadly accident make people not only concerned for the safety of people involved, but for the welfare of the animals themselves. Videos like this one taken off Guadalupe Island in Mexico bring criticism that this activity promotes harm of the animals and puts people in unnecessary risky situations. Other stories such as the tragedy that befell surfer Bethany Hamilton only propagates the stigma that sharks are man-eating machines.
However, the events shown in this video are not the norm. The cage used in this video was unsafe and not approved. When done correctly, these shark diving tours actually can help protect the sharks, a species that is quickly dying off around the world.
Is shark cage diving a bigger gamble than playing roulette on mobile casino? You decide when it comes to this major bucket-list wildlife adventure.
Why Are Sharks in Trouble
According to the International Shark Attack File, of the 130 investigated shark-human interactions in 2018, only 66 were unprovoked attacks. Compare this to the potentially 273 million sharks (100 million confirmed) annually killed by humans and you know we have a problem.
Most of these sharks are being killed for the preparation of shark fin soup, a delicacy in China and Vietnam. Fins are cut from the shark and then the shark is kicked back into the water to die. While shark fin consumption in China has been reduced by 50 to 70 percent since 2011 and shark fin imports have decreased by 81 percent between 2011 and 2014, sharks are still being killed faster than they can reproduce.
Beyond the ramifications of wiping out a substantial chunk of the species (there are only 3500 great white sharks remaining in the world), knocking out such a top-order predator will create a ripple effect. By taking out a number one predator in the ocean, you create an imbalance across the entire ecosystem.
Shark Diving Is a Promising Solution
Despite trouble that social media seems to spew about shark diving, it may actually be a solution for saving the sharks. Not requiring any special certifications, anyone can pay money to go down in a shark cage and come face-to-face with these giants of the deep. By participating in quality, accountable shark cage diving companies, especially those found in South Africa and Australia, you are giving business to organizations that are dedicated to the conservation of these majestic aquatic animals.
Finding tour operators who use safe equipment and give back to the sharks is the key. You’ll want to vet organizations and research reviews before deciding to book shark diving with anyone. For example, Marine Dynamics, a major shark diving company in South Africa, has founded the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. This non-profit was founded by the company’s owner, Wilfred Chivell, and is renowned for its species protection efforts. Many companies in Australia and South Africa go out of their way to promote conservation. They give back to the sharks who help them bring in substantial tourist money and riveting adventure. The Bahamas have generated $800 million over 20 years, viewing sharks as a renewable resource. Australia makes more than $25.5 million annually because of this aspect of ecotourism.