A look at how training and diving in aquarium tanks with sharks can help you relax when diving with sharks in the oceans and seas.
For all those who take up diving, there is the distinct possibility that you will one day encounter a shark. Part of any good diving training is setting a solid foundation on how to interact with sea life and the importance of protecting its natural habitat. Sharks have been around for millions of years and, over time, have adapted to suit their environment and stay on top of the food chain. As apex predators of the sea, sharks play an important role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
Most of our fears of sharks stems from the fact that we commonly see scenes like the one below. In these cases, sharks are often chummed into making an appearance for divers to experience diving with them. Under these conditions the sharks, who would normally avoid us are attracted by the lure of food. As a result the sharks can display what we call aggressive behavior. And it can get extreme.
For this reason, all too often, sharks are simply perceived as fearless killing machines, making them one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. Yes, some sharks are aggressive, but it’s unfair to categorize all sharks as brutes because there are so many species that are a dream to dive with! In fact, as we learn more, we learn that sharks are not that threatening… most of the time. Some folks, like Valerie, in our post on the human-shark relationship actually befriend sharks.
Ocean Ramsey explains her comfort and ability to relate to sharks in in our post ” She Rides Great White Sharks”
To get over your fear of sharks and dispel any misconceptions, there are many aquariums where you can take part in shark encounters. It’s a golden opportunity to see sharks for what they are: magnificent creatures that are not to be feared but revered. These large aquariums have mainly Nurse sharks and Sand tiger sharks, and you’ll learn how to interact with them and read their display behaviors.
Nurse sharks are the ones that like to sit on the bottom of the seabed and not move unless, of course, you wave a nice piece of squid at them!
Sand Tiger Shark
Sand tiger sharks have lots of out sharp teeth sticking out of their mouth, giving them an aggressive look. In reality, however, they’re mainly docile creatures. They’re night feeders, so when people see them in aquariums, they’re most likely cruising – not hunting.
As a diver, I think part of any dive training course should be focused on shark education. By developing a good understanding of these creatures, you’ll automatically come to respect them. And when you meet them out in the open sea, you’ll have a more relaxed attitude.
Through sustainable initiatives that promote shark awareness, you’ll learn that sharks are curious animals and may come up close, but rather than panic, you’ll know how to interpret their behavior and to give them space to swim freely.
Best Place to Scuba Dive with Sharks
If you dive in the Red Sea, specifically in Ras Mohamed the National Park, you’ll see lots of pristine coral reefs and drop-offs. A little past these drop-offs is where you can often see the larger species of sharks.
We recently took a group of novice divers, and to prepare them for their first shark encounter, we did an aquarium dive first, which really helped them to feel comfortable in the water while surrounded by sharks.
We saw a few sharks on both day and night dives, from blue sharks to white tip reef sharks. Every diver in our group knew how to behave around them, which goes to show that the training dive in the aquarium helped them gain a better understanding of sharks. And the end result? A fantastic and calm shark dive!
While shark attacks on humans are rare, sharks can sense the nervous tones given off by a panicked person in the water. So, by being calm the dive is more enjoyable for everybody. I can also take dive groups to dive spots where there are larger sharks, without compromising on safety and comfort.
Whether it’s seeing a white tip feeding at night, coming out of the black depths, or seeing the larger silky sharks defending their territory, seeing a shark is an experience that you will never forget.
If you’re planning on doing a shark dive but are not sure if you’ll like it or just want to take the edge off the fear of sharks, then I’d recommend you do an aquarium dive.
Scuba diving is already a thrilling activity, but if there is one thing that will top your diving adventure is to swim alongside sharks.
Don’t wait any longer, enrich your travels with an epic shark dive!