Swimming with Sharks the Ultimate Adventure
If you love an adrenaline rush, then swimming with sharks needs to be on your bucket list. Plus who doesn’t love Shark week on the Discovery Channel!? More and more people are beginning to understand that sharks are an important part of the ocean ecosystem and need to be protected. While swimming with sharks is an activity for the brave of heart, there are some things you should keep in mind to stay safe while being circled by one of the most majestic creatures on earth.
Is it Dangerous to Swim with Sharks?
Most sharks you will encounter on a scuba dive will keep their distance from you and won’t act aggressively. Overall it’s definitely not like what you see in the movies, sharks attacks aren’t as common as many people think. However, if a shark becomes curious about you and starts to exhibit aggressive behavior, the way you respond to the situation will make a huge difference.
What Kind of Sharks are Safe to Swim with?
So, you’re probably wondering which kinds of sharks are safe to swim with.
Caribbean Reef Shark – this kind of shark is large, but generally indifferent to people when it spots them
Nurse Shark – these sharks are nocturnal by nature, so they rarely pay attention to humans– especially during the daytime
Leopard Sharks – most leopard sharks will flee when they see humans.
Whale Sharks – these are the largest fish in the ocean, but unlike their size, their threat to humans is small
What to Do if A Shark Swims Towards You?
Seeing a shark may be a huge surprise. If a shark swims towards you and you’re afraid, don’t panic. Move slowly toward the shore or a boat; choose whichever is closest. Do not thrash your arms or kick or splash while you swim. Whatever you do, do not block the shark’s path. Just like most other creatures, you definitely won’t what to turn your back on a shark either.
Here are a few things you should know before swimming with sharks:
1. Do Your Research
Before diving into the ocean, do your research on the nature of sharks. Not all sharks behave in the same way and can respond differently depending on the time of day, weather, water, or surrounding activity. Researching sharks in the area you want to swim in can provide you with insight into how they behave in your chosen area and how to best respond to the unexpected.
2. Choose a Responsible Dive Operator
Swimming with sharks can be a smooth and incredible experience, but one of the biggest factors to consider is which diver operator to choose to do the dive with. Dive operators should adhere to strict codes of conduct to ensure the safety of the divers as well as animals. Do your research on various diver operators, read reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask them a lot of questions. They will be responsible for you while you’re down there, so make sure their processes are safe. This isn’t an activity to cheap out on, choose a reputable dive operator that also takes into consideration the environmental impact.
3. Swim With A Buddy
If you have not ever had the opportunity to swim with sharks before, you can experience the thrill in a safe metal cage with trained professionals. If you prefer to dive in close proximity with sharks, it is recommended that you do not swim unaccompanied since sharks usually target a solitary individual. It is always good to have another set of eyes around. It is especially important to learn how to communicate with your partner with predetermined hand gestures underwater if you do choose to swim with a buddy. You can swim with a buddy but try not to swim with a large group, since a shark may mistake a group of swimmers as one large animal and therefore as a greater threat.
4. Always Stay Calm When Swimming With Sharks
It’s important that swimmers remain as calm as possible when swimming with sharks. Seeing a shark underwater can be extremely exciting, remember not to start kicking furiously or making sudden movements as this can make a shark see you as a threat. Sudden movements can catch their attention and provoke them into thinking you are food. Keep your breathing steady, maintain a proper depth, and enjoy the encounter. Remember, whenever swimmers interact with sharks, they are a guest in that shark’s home. When swimming with sharks, continue to swim calmly as if you are surrounded by small fish and coral, so sharks won’t bother you.
5. Avoid Swimming with Other Mammals
Sharks may mistake you for natural prey when they’re hunting. If you’re swimming alongside a school of fish or seals then they may think you’re that type of mammal. Don’t swim alongside these groups of mammals for extended periods of time. In fact, the majority of shark attacks against humans are usually the case of mistaken identity, where the shark mistakes the human as another mammal.
6. Time your Dive
Sharks generally have specific times that they hunt, usually, this is around dusk and dawn, or at night…unless other feeding opportunities are available (if they have already eaten this may not be the case). Therefore, be smart, don’t swim with sharks around these times, or proceed with caution if you do. Time your dive and similarly ensure you’re diving in clear water since murky, shallow water won’t allow for sharks to distinguish if you’re natural prey. Also, if they can’t see you and you surprise them, they may attack out of defense as well.
7. Wear the Right Equipment
When you’re swimming with sharks, ensure your scuba equipment isn’t brightly coloured or shiny. The reason you shouldn’t wear bright colours is that sharks see contrasted colours particularly well. When light reflects off anything shiny that you’re wearing, sharks can mistake these for the scales of another type of fish (prey). Instead, when it comes to your diving equipment stick with matte, dark colours like blacks or blues, so you don’t attract sharks. Also, keep pictures with a flash to a minimum, the noise and light of the flashes can entice sharks to take an investigatory bite of the equipment.
8. Don’t Follow Sharks
Yes, we know you want the incredible experience of swimming with sharks! But as tempting as it may be to follow a shark, this isn’t the right move. If you pursue a shark from behind and they end up turning around, there’s a chance that they will think that you’re a predator. This will provoke them to attack you in self-defense, and can you blame them? A human response would likely be the same if they were being followed. Use sound judgment and even if you really want that photo or video clip of a shark, it’s not worth risking your life for.
9. Don’t Enter the Water if you’re Bleeding
The media portrayal of sharks being attracted to blood isn’t exaggerated. Sharks have an amazing sense of smell and can smell and taste blood, tracing it back to its source. If you have an injury or some kind of open wound, consider swimming with sharks on a different day. Wait for your injury to heal, so that sharks aren’t attracted to blood.