Shark Diving Tours
Sharks! Just the word sends shivers down your spine.
Many people won’t even step into the ocean because they fear sharks. These massive, majestic beasts have been around for about 65 million years – that’s when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Sharks rule the seas and are at the top of the ocean’s food chain. Shark tourism brings in millions of dollars a year worldwide. That’s right, people choose to go diving with sharks.
If you’ve seen the movie Jaws or watched Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, you know a thing or two about sharks. Did you know that there are over 350 species of sharks in the Earth’s waters? Sharks can grow to 40+ feet and have up to 3,000 razor sharp teeth. Sharks are unpredictable. They have earned their bad reputation because of their explosively fast surprise attacks on swimmers, surfers, and boaters
Sharks are everywhere in the ocean wilderness from the southern shores of Patagonia to the tropical waters of the Mediterranean to the icy coast of Alaska. Sharks are a mystery. They intrigue us, exhilarate us, and scare us. To dive with sharks and to see the king of the seas in its natural habitat is a great way to test your courage.
Shark tourism is adventure at its finest. Have you ever caught a glimpse of a shark in your underwater travels, cruised over a sleeping nurse shark in a reef dive in Aruba, or spotted a black tipped reef shark shopping for dinner as you drift by in Phuket. Seeing a shark gets the adrenaline flowing. Sharks swim close to shore and deep in open water. They are rarely seen, but one has to wonder how often they see us.
Spotting a shark on a normal dive is not what shark diving is about. Shark diving is a true stare-danger-in-the-face adventure. People travel the world just to dive with sharks. South Africa’s Shark Alley, the Bahamas Tiger Beach, whale shark diving in Thailand and Honduras, Mexico’s Isla Guadalupe, or Australia’s Southern Coast are just a few hot spots for shark diving.
While shark diving may be a booming industry, you want to be sure to dive with a legit shark diving operation. To ensure a reasonably safe shark diving adventure, get some recommendations on outfitters and research shark dive operators. Read up on shark behavior, shark environments, shark and human interactions, and learn everything you can before you dive into an underwater world and stare one of the world’s largest predators in the face.
There are two popular types of shark diving – cage dives and free dives. If you want to get up close and personal with a 15-foot, 2,000 pound great white shark, a.k.a. the world’s deadliest shark, you should probably be in a cage. The best place to view great white sharks is South Africa, Southern Australia, or Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. There is nothing quite like peering through the bars of a reinforced steel cage and watching a massive great white shark flash his razor sharp teeth at the cage before exploding through the water to catch a seal for breakfast. It may cost you several thousand dollars, but if you have the opportunity to see a shark feeding frenzy, it’s definitely something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
If cage diving with a great white doesn’t float your boat, you may want to try free diving with sharks. This practice is becoming quite common. Usually you travel to a place like the Bahamas, Belize, or Fiji where a shark dive operator will take a group of people out to dive. You’ll swim to the bottom and line up side by side, remember to stay calm and still to ensure that you don’t look like lunch. Sometimes the dive operator will chum the water with bait. At other times the sharks will already be in the area… you wait for the sharks to arrive. Before you know it one to one hundred tiger, bull, hammerhead, or other types of sharks will come by for a snack. As you watch patiently, one may cruise overhead, its large silhouette eclipsing the sun – an image that will stay in your memory for life.
When free diving, a shark can come give you a love bump or friendly nuzzle. This happens. Some sharks are territorial, while others get confused and may think you are food. Sometimes the flash of an underwater camera (which is a must on a shark dive!) startles the shark. Close calls and accidents do happen, but in general shark diving is safe.
Shark diving is quite controversial. The main argument is that when sharks are baited for shark tourism, they will start to associate the hum of boats or the site of divers with food. This can be very dangerous. As the sharks make this association, the next question becomes – am I going for a fantastic adventure or am I about to be lunch?
Some people fancy shark diving with whale sharks, the world’s largest fish species. These gentle giants can span over 40 feet and reach upwards of 45,000 pounds. Whale sharks are incredibly gentle creatures and cruise in the tropical waters off the coasts of places like Honduras or Thailand. Other people choose to shark dive in enormous aquariums in places like Sydney or Dubai. Shark diving is popular for people of all ages in all places.
Shark diving is an amazing adventure. Sharks allure us because of their raw power, pure mystery, and prehistoric connections. No one knows what is going to happen. Although the statistics show that you have a 1 in 300 million chance of being killed by a shark, you must remember that animals are unpredictable. You may dive with sharks while they eat, but can you imagine being inches away from a grizzly bear or lion while they ate lunch?
Diving with these toothy carnivores is risky. But isn’t life more fun when there is a bit of risk involved?