How to Scuba Dive with Sharks
Chances are that you've been scuba diving with sharks all along. The truth is you’ll be lucky if you get to see a shark underwater. They are a rare privilege to observe. In fact, did you know that you’re statistically more likely to be struck by lightning than bit by a shark?
If it turns out you’re lucky enough to have a close encounter of the sharky kind, here are a few tips to make the experience more pleasurable for both you and the shark:
- Go with experts. Dive operators in many areas offer organized shark dives and, while a guided experience can’t guarantee absolute safety, much shark behavior is predictable if you know what to look for. Go with those who know the locals if you want an introduction.
- Be prepared. Whether on a guided shark dive or just looking for a chance encounter, you should learn what type of sharks might be in the area and find out how they’re likely to behave.
- Dive with a group in the daytime. Scuba divers on their own and in low visibility are more at risk in waters where sharks are likely to be.
- Enter the water quietly and descend quickly. Sharks' favorite foods tend to congregate on the surface and in midwater – think seals, sea lions and dead or injured fish. Don’t dilly-dally once you’re in the water and head to the bottom with minimal movement.
- It may go without saying, but you don't want to spearfish in the company of sharks. If a shark approaches you when you’re carrying your catch, let it go and stay very still until you can swim slowly away.
- Notice the behavior of your underwater neighbors. Fish often swim erratically when sharks are near.
- Sharks often swim just beyond steep inclines, so look out into big water as you descend to catch a glimpse. Often the first divers into the water are the only ones who get to see a shark as it swims away from the unwelcome intrusion of a dive boat and the scuba divers it unloads.
- Many shark species are timid. If you’re trying to get a glimpse Keep your hands still and by your side at all times.
- Don’t look like a fishing lure. Avoid wearing shiny sparkly jewelry underwater because this can catch the attention of a variety of curious fish, sharks included.
- While rubber-clad scuba divers with bubbles coming out of their heads are not the shark’s usual choice of cuisine, even accidental contact with one can cause injury. Should you sustain any sort of underwater injury, immediately end your scuba dive, exit the water as quickly as possible and seek medical attention, no matter how seemingly small the injury may be.
- Stay alert and limit multitasking so you can focus entirely on your surroundings.
Plan your dive and dive your plan - paying attention to currents, depth and air consumption. Don’t dive too deep or come up too fast – in other words, use safe diving practices at all times. Then, if you’re lucky enough to see a shark, you can enjoy the moment free from worry.