Ok, a lot to break down here. I had my questions about the ethics of “diving with great whites.” But ultimately it comes down to this: the people you see in the bottom left, glued to their cameras, have traveled thousands of miles and waited years—decades in one case—for this moment.
There is no guarantee that a shark will come when you go out on a white shark dive boat, but the experienced guides take the boat to a likely hangout spot—next to a seal-covered rocky island in this case. Next, they toss a bit of chum in the water, which paves a scent path for any nearby sharks. They begin to toss a tuna head into the water to make a slapping sound, reeling it back in slowly to toss out again. At the first sight of a shark, the first group of divers jumps into the cage (I was the first person in this day!), and the guides use the tuna head on a rope to try to steer the shark toward the cage so the divers can get a good face-to-face encounter through the ice-cold murky green water.
Sometimes, as seen here, the shark is quick enough to snatch the tuna head bait, barely a snack for them. Other times, the shark seems just mildly curious to know what’s making all the smell and noise. Either way, every person on that boat returns home with a newfound respect for the sheer power and the nonchalant grace of this notorious predator. Each of the 15 or so participants on this boat will tell their stories to other people, spreading awareness about the importance of protecting sharks, and reminding others to care about the planet.
In the end, I think that if the practice is not disruptive to the normal behavior of the sharks, then I’m all for the education and inspiration it provides. What do you think?
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