Shark Diving. Is It Safe?
Sharks have always been rightly viewed as the apex predator in the oceans. They are at the top of the food chain for good reason and have been around for hundreds of millions of years. And ever since Steven Spielberg made “Jaws” sharks have been viewed as human eating machines. Does this common view and fear have merit? Should you steer clear of sharks when scuba diving or should you embrace the opportunity to see some of the most impressive marine life in our oceans?
If you start to look at the facts with regards to shark attacks and fatalities that relate to those shark attacks you will see that on average there are about 5 fatalities each year which are attributed to sharks worldwide. These numbers include from all activities such as swimming, surfing, freediving, as well as scuba diving. There are all kinds of numbers which show that you are more likely to die from being hit on a head from a coconut, from toasting your bread in the morning, etc. As a comparison, over 1.3 million people die each year from automobile accidents worldwide. Which equates to well over 3000 deaths per day. Obviously a lot more people drive an automobile that those who purposefully search out sharks to dive with, but the point is. The risk certainly isn’t high.
What Type Of Sharks Can You Dive With?
Absolutely any. Some types of sharks such as nurse sharks are incredibly calm and relaxed and pose next to no threat to scuba divers. Others such as great whites are quite intimidating even for seasoned shark divers, who often choose to dive in a cage when they are in great white territory. Sharks such as bull sharks are quite often seen as being a very aggressive species to surfers and body borders, but to divers they usually tend to mind their own business. In bull shark waters such as Costa Rica’s Bat Islands, you can dive with several bull sharks at a dive site called the “Big Scare.” At depth, the bull sharks tend to cruise at a relaxed pace through the waters and really don’t pay much attention at all to the divers. Several shops have been taking guests to the Bat Islands to do this dive for over 35 years and these sharks have never attacked a single diver. Tiger Sharks are another type of shark which is quite often misunderstood and interpreted. Divers routinely dive with these massive animals in the Bahamas as well as encounters are frequently had in both the Cocos Islands as well as Fiji. These dives are done on a daily basis by several dive operations with years and years going by between any type of negative interaction between shark and diver. Hammerhead Sharks are another shark species which are often accused of being overly dangerous. The truth reveals something quite different. Out of the 9 species of hammerhead sharks, throughout the entire recorded history of shark diving, there have been exactly 0 fatalities caused by hammerhead sharks. None.
When To Start
So you have built up the nerve to give it a try. But when and how? There a few really easy ways to get started with shark diving. All of them come with their own benefits. The first option would be to join our group trip to Costa Rica. We will be visiting Costa Rica in Sept of 2018 and you will have the opportunity to dive the Bat Islands which is where you have a very good chance to see bull sharks in their natural environment. These sharks at the Big Scare are in a marine park and are among massive schools of other fish. The sharks are never baited or fed by humans and act very calm and uninterested with the divers.
You could do a liveaboard trip to Fiji and add on a day diving at the Bega Shark Dive which is done just outside of Pacific Harbour. This is often called the best shark dive in the world. The Fijians do bait these sharks and have been doing it for years. You will see several bull sharks circling the group and being fed by the divemaster. You will also see several species of reef sharks as well as lemon sharks and the opportunity to see a very large female tiger shark.
Witness schooling hammerheads at Cocos Islands. While this is a quite expensive trip to take part in (around $5500 for a 10 day liveaboard), it is consistently ranked as some of the top diving in the world. It is one of only a handful of locations where you can see large schools of hammerheads swimming together on a dive. The journey to and from Cocos is not for the faint of heart as it is a 30 hour boat ride off the coast of Costa Rica.