You're ten times more likely to be bitten by a New Yorker than a shark. From biting injuries and lightning strikes to firework accidents and falling coconuts, the statistics comparing shark attacks to other risks are lengthy. Yet, the odds of being killed by our razer-toothed friends are roughly one in 3.75 million. On the flipside, it's estimated that humans kill around 100 million sharks a year. While shark attacks are extremely rare, these are wild apex predators. Therefore, knowing how to properly interact with sharks and how to react if one suddenly becomes aggressive is vital for both your safety and the sharks' well-being. So, without further ado, read on to discover our top shark diving tips - a shark code of conduct, if you will.
Dive in a Group
With more sets of eyes there's a better chance of spotting sharks from different angles and perspectives. This increased awareness can help ensure that everyone is aware of the sharks' positions and movements. When shark diving, stick close to your dive buddy and monitor their safety, equipment and air supply. They can also serve as an extra set of eyes to watch for approaching sharks and ensure that both you and the sharks are safe.
Stay Calm and Relaxed
Sharks use specialised sensory organs called the 'ampullae of Lorenzini' to detect electrical impulses produced by living organisms in their environment. This, coupled with an incredible sense of smell, is how sharks hunt. Panicked divers can produce a stronger electrical impulse due to increased heart rate, body temperature and adrenaline release, which could potentially attract the attention of nearby sharks. Therefore, practice slow, controlled breathing - it will keep you calm and help reduce air consumption, so you can dive for longer periods of time.
Know Your Sharks
Understanding the behaviours and habits of different shark species is crucial for diving safety with these apex predators. For instance, while bull sharks are territorial and potentially aggressive, whale sharks are non-aggressive filter feeders, making interactions with them generally safe - just don't get too close. Divers should research and adapt their approach based on the specific shark species they may encounter to ensure both their safety and the well-being of the sharks in their respective habitats.
Keep Your Eyes on the Shark
Keeping a watchful eye on sharks while diving will keep you attuned to their proximity and behaviour. This awareness can help divers avoid accidental close encounters or situations that might trigger a shark's natural instincts. Observing their behaviour can also provide valuable insights into the overall health of the underwater environment, which you can use to raise awareness of shark conservation.
Keep Your Distance
Maintaining a safe distance from sharks is not only a matter of personal safety but also a matter of ethical responsibility and ecological preservation. Sharks play vital roles in marine ecosystems, and it's important to respect their space and natural behaviours. Approaching too closely can disrupt their natural activities, cause stress and potentially harm the shark or other marine life in the area.
Erratic movements, like flapping arms and legs, might pique a shark's interest as they are sensitive to these behavioural and physiological changes. The best way to dive with sharks is to limit your movements by using slow, deliberate movements. Good buoyancy control is also key. However, if the shark is showing signs of aggression, position yourself vertically in the water. While this might seem daft - diving 101 teaches us to dive horizontally for buoyancy control - remaining upright will give you a dominant profile.
Know Your Dive
Not just a shark diving tip, but general good practice: always plan your dive. If you travel with a responsible dive operator, this will all be covered in your dive briefing. However, take note on the underwater environment, the maximum depth, length of the dive and the sharks you might see. This will ensure you dive with sharks safely, as well as upping your chances of spotting these magnificent creatures.
Choose a Responsible Dive Operator
Do your research to ensure you are diving with an ethical, environmentally responsible dive operator. When it comes to shark diving, this includes diving with an experienced dive guide or instructor who is familiar with the local shark species and their behaviour. Guides can provide valuable information, ensure that divers follow safety protocols and address any questions or concerns.
Are you inspired by these shark diving tips to embark on your own adventure? Our dive travel specialists have extensive experience in shark diving worldwide and can guide you to the best locations. We exclusively collaborate with responsible dive operators, ensuring that you can dive safely with your favourite sharks.