Image via WikipediaSo you're enjoying a leisurely scuba dive with your buddy and suddenly you encounter a shark. In light of next week's Shark Week programming on Discovery Channel, this situation may be something you want to know about. We talked with noted shark and marine photographer Andrew Sallmon about what a scuba diver should do in they encounter a shark.
If you see a shark while Scuba diving consider the following tips.
1. Remain calm and stay with your dive buddy. Sharks are naturally curious, not the horrible monsters portrayed in television and the movies. They sometimes come in to see what divers are doing and then leave. It’s actually a rare opportunity to see one. If you sight one that stays in an area, just remain alert and swim out of the area, near the bottom. Sharks will sometimes stay in a local area possibly because of fishing activity and the chance for an easy meal of scraps. They are natural predators and scavengers, not monsters of the deep.
2. Maintain a respectful distance. Most sharks don’t want anything to do with divers. Some such as nurse sharks, leopard sharks and horn sharks lie on the bottom and can be closely approached. Divers that grab at or harass a shark are often bitten as a defensive action not aggressive. Respect them and they will respect you.
3. Prey swims away rapidly…. You shouldn’t. If approached closely by a large shark like a great white, tiger or bull, stay near the bottom, hold your position and face the shark. You can’t out swim it anyway! Again, these animals are so misrepresented by the movies that most divers fear their mere presence. They are not there to bite or attack. They live in the ocean and on the reef and are very curious, a clear sign of intelligence actually. If you hold still and face them they will go away after a close inspection and once they realize what you are. Sudden rapid movements are not a good idea. After the shark passes, swim away slowly, near the bottom with your dive buddy.
4. Swim toward it. If a shark persists in checking you out, and you are concerned for some reason then stay close to your dive buddy and swim toward it. Humans are fairly large in the water and two together forms an even larger presence. The shark knows that prey does not swim toward it, so will turn away.
5. Do not spear fish without safety precautions and training. Spear fishing is a very popular sport for a few scuba divers and especially free-divers (breath hold). Many experienced underwater hunters have had an encounter with a shark. Usually they have to give away their catch to get the shark to go away. The shark should not be speared. It will make matters far worse. Unfortunately, some have speared a large shark only to find themselves now attached to it by their single-shot speargun. If you want to spearfish, keep your catch on a float 15-20 feet towed behind you. Take the time to properly research the subject of spear fishing and then learn to do it with experienced underwater hunters in your area. Don’t go out alone.
Thank you!!!!! Andrew Sallmon's work has been featured in a variety of publications. He is an in-demand speaker, expedition leader and photographer traveling throughout the world. For more details, visit www.SeaIt.com