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Old 18th September 2018
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Wreckdiver Wreckdiver is offline
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Re: August Photo Challenge: Drama

Originally Posted by blu-by-u View Post

Question, How dangerous is meeting a shark when diving?
Sharks are not the vicious killers that has so often been portrayed in the press blu-by-u. Many are inquisitive and like to "check out" divers, others are extremely timid and can be difficult to get close to. The Oceanic whitetip is one of the more curious of sharks and usually shows no hesitation when approaching divers, this one certainly was curious but she kept her distance. The great white and some other sharks can be dangerous at times but they won't go out to attack you, they are invariably just curious. You have to remember that the only way they have of knowing whether an animal is suitable prey or not is with their teeth but of the very few attacks worldwide most are not fatal and are usually mistaken identity.

Where it can get dangerous is when there are surfers in the water and great whites (and some other species) are around. To a GW they look like seals from depth and their method of sussing out prey is to power up from depth and take by surprise, by which time it can be too late for the surfer. The shark will often realise its mistake and not continue with the attack.

Of course you should always maintain a healthy respect for them and look for the warning signs (lowering of the pectoral fins, arching of the back, snaking and heightened activity and thrashing) and get out of the water when you see them. If a shark starts to get a little "too friendly" often a deliberate darting motion towards its face will be enough to scare it off. A punch on the snout as a last resort can often work. Always keeping your eyes on them so that they know you are watching them. They'll be more wary that way.

Statistically, there are less than 10 attacks worldwide annually, with most non fatal. On the other hand, we slaughter around 100 million per year and most shark populations have been decimated by over 90% worldwide in the past 50 years.

So, sharks are not the enemy and most divers will actively seek them out to swim with them. It really is an amazing experience and I thoroughly recommend being in the water with them, just be cautious and sensible and you'll be OK.

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