Usually the first reaction when you tell people you want to go diving with sharks is something like, “What? You're out of your tree. That's so dangerous!”
Really? Did you know that there are only about 10 fatal shark attacks every year? Compare that to almost one and a quarter million people a year killed in motor vehicle accidents and you might think again.
Sharks are not the scary man-eating beasts some people believe them to be. They might be curious and swim up to you to check you out but, I can assure you, you're highly unlikely to be on their menu.
So, how do you become a shark diver?
Before you even think about getting in the water and swimming with sharks there are some things you need to be aware of.
Respect - you are entering a beautiful and sensitive ecosystem. It is vital that you respect both the marine environment and the animals within it.
You are in their home, please remember that at all times. Keep your distance and give the animals space. If they want to interact, they will come to you. Please let any contact happen on their terms. Never chase any animal, or block its way to open water.
You wouldn't want someone coming into your lounge and trying to grope you, so don't do it to them!
Safety - Make sure you know the area and the animals you're planning to dive with. Shark behaviour can vary depending on many factors. If you're not familiar with either the dive site or the animals you may encounter, dive with someone who is.
I shouldn't have to say this, but I will - Never dive alone!
If you want to swim or snorkel
with sharks you just need common sense and a good buddy. If you want to
dive it's a bit more involved.
No, not like that. If you want to scuba dive with sharks you'll need to be a qualified diver. If freediving is more your scene you don't necessarily need a qualification, though it is probably safer if you get one.
If you want to go cage diving you may need to be a certified scuba diver, but it depends on the operator you go with.
However you choose to go diving with sharks please remember it is a great privilege to spend time with these magnificent creatures. I hope it leaves you with a sense of just how amazing the marine environment is and, above all, I hope you'll share that feeling with others.
The oceans need our protection, and the more people who spread the word the better.