Let’s Talk Shark Cage Diving and Its Impact…
I wanted to chat a little about Shark Cage Diving and the impact it has on the relationship between humans and the sharks association of food. It so happened that I was asked this very question the other day, as it seems there are still some folk who believe that Shark Cage Diving somehow is responsible for shark attacks.
The argument for the debate makes mention of chumming to attract sharks, while people wait in a cage to see them. And this is really the only argument they present, but in fairness, I guess one has to accept that this argument is fuelled by fear, and not so much an informed study, because if these folks had taken the time to check out the facts, they would realise that the argument, doesn’t really hold much water. Let’s have a look why; firstly and possibly most importantly, is the fact that operators who offer Shark Cage Diving,
tend to do so in areas where the sharks already frequent! A Great White shark’s nutrition of choice is seal, so it stands to reason that if you are looking for Great White’s, then find the seals. Baiting the water in and around a seal colony, will mix with the seals excrement and other “juices”, so this alone cannot be cause for attacks! Also, baiting is not feeding, but rather the use of a long rope with a fish head attached at the end, which is kept away from the shark, and though sometimes a speedy shark might manage to grab the bait from the rope, it does not happen often enough to constitute “conditioning” as with Pavlov’s Dog. In the same vein, is the use of a decoy, and the association of the decoy, which encourage breaching behaviour, to that of a surfer or body boarder, but this argument is flawed. The negative association of the decoy and no food, (as the decoy is rubber or carpet shaped into the shape of a seal) will discourage an attack, as the immense energy exerted to launch this surprise beach attack, with the hope of a meal at the end of it, only to be left hungry and unsatisfied, will most certainly cause the shark to not focus so much energy on a possible fail. Also, we have come to understand that the Great White’s vision is not considered to be all that great, causing it to rely mainly on its sense of smell and the electro receptors in its nose area, so would it actually see the diver in the cage, or does it only see a dense shape? And finally, for the purposes of this blog; the 14 years prior to the inception of Shark Cage Diving (1978 to 1991), there were 30 documented shark bites / attacks. In the 14 years after this time, there were 32 documented shark bites / attacks. The ratio of attacks between Eastern and Western Cape remained the same, despite Shark Cage Diving only being offered in the Western Cape and if the sharks were associating cage divers with food, then it stands to reason that divers would be associated, but the attacks on divers had decreased by up to 50% while on surfers the attacks had increased by up to 25 and 30%? So is this a valid argument? You decide.
Come experience this amazing creature in its natural habitat and try Shark Cage Diving for yourself!
So, until we meet again, keep that toothy grin!