Cage Diving: Is the Thrill Worth the Price?
Would you be brave enough to go cage diving?
Cage diving with great white sharks has increased in popularity over the past few years. Places like Australia, South Africa, and sheltered islands off the western coast of Mexico are famous for this activity. Dare devils flock to the attractions; eager to experience getting up close and personal to a creature that Hollywood has turned into a monster. Vying for a photo to show that they are braver than the rest. However, when it comes down to it, the real question shouldn’t be ‘are you brave enough?’ but, should you do it at all?
On the surface, cage diving seems harmless for humans and sharks alike. While accidents can occur, nobody is hurt on purpose. For this reason, many cage diving businesses describe themselves as eco-friendly. However, just because there is no physical damage doesn’t mean that this practice is ethical.
One of the main concerns surrounding cage diving is the fact that, in most cases, the sharks have to be baited. A mixture of blood and fish parts called ‘chum’ is dumped into the water to lure any nearby sharks to the vicinity for the tourist’s viewing pleasure. While the mixture may not be quite enough to qualify as proper ‘feeding’ it is still a problem. Baiting is a big no-no when it comes to wildlife for a variety of reasons; mainly because it changes the animal’s behavior and often causes them to associate humans with food. When it comes to sharks, baiting them has been correlated with more attacks.
While the baiting is a problem, there are other concerns as to why cage diving perhaps isn’t an ethical activity. Marine specialists and scuba divers are quick to point out that the experience itself is not authentic. Sharks are shy and timid creatures that usually don’t stick around. By baiting and luring them, humans are creating an unnatural situation that feeds into the monster myth that so many conservationists and shark advocates are trying to dispel.
A third concern with cage diving is the idea that it is not sustainable. The more people that want to experience this means more chum in the ocean and more boats on the waters which leads to more pollution. Money becomes the main goal and, in some places, boats and teams may not oblige to the best safety practices in their quest for personal monetary gain.
Of course, at the other end of the spectrum are those that disagree and are convinced that cage diving is a great idea. An opportunity for humans to learn more about this at-risk species. Many have shark experts on board to provide the tourists with information about the sharks in a hope of better educating them. However, as with every other activity provider, quality always differs.
So, should you go cage diving? Like with any other activity, the decision is ultimately your own. But, as always, do your research ahead of time. Some practices are better than others, our stance is very much at the conservation end of the spectrum as part of an Eco project, rather than thrill seeking. Sometimes there are even opportunities to go with actual conservationists rather than just a tourist boat. But, if you really love sharks, there are perhaps better and more ethical ways to
see them. There are plenty of places around the world where you can see them in their natural habitat; displaying regular behavior without the bait and, better yet, often without the crowds.