Cage diving with a top predator such as a shark is a high-adrenaline experience. However, it also holds the power to changing divers’ views on shark conservation once they step back on land. This is an important point that is crucial to the continued existence of shark species.
A new study by marine biology and tourism experts at Southern Cross University published in Marine Policy found that wildlife tourism offers the potential to turn participants into enthusiastic wildlife ambassadors. While public attitude towards whales and dolphins are generally positive, there is a more commonly held negative perception about sharks by the public.
Thankfully, these negative attitudes towards sharks have started to shift, with a boost in interest levels and public awareness of the levels of threats that face global shark populations. This is, in part, driven by greater access to shark cage diving, and the humanisation of sharks, in a way. It spills over in greater benefits for shark conservation too.
What Shark Cage Diving Teaches Us About Ourselves
How does shark cage diving aid shark conservation? The obvious way that comes to mind is the money that can be generated from shark cage diving if it is used to fund research that will help secure shark species’ future existence. Another way that shark cage diving assists in conservation is that it lifts the lid off the mystery surrounding these creatures.
While famous movies like Jaws and Sharknado were great for squarely placing sharks in the middle of popular culture, they might not have been very positive for awareness. Scary depictions of sharks in popular culture have spurred on selachophobia, or the fear of sharks.
Diving with sharks dispels the fears and misconceptions many of us have over these incredible creatures. It ties in well with the old adage of beating one’s fears is best done by confronting them. Coming up close to these predators illustrates to people that sharks are also just creatures, and not fantastical monsters on a rampaging thirst for human limbs.
Once seen as a hindrance to coastal tourism, sharks are now being seen as a great attraction, spurring dive sites and industry around the world. If we can turn the growing fascination with sharks into a positive thing and help use it to secure their future on earth, then it’s a win-win for both the public, and conservationists working tirelessly to protect shark populations for generations to come.
The best place to shark cage dive is probably Cape Town, South Africa, where great white sharks choose to breed. A local conservation organisation also hosts a volunteer shark program where intrepid nature lovers and future marine biologists can get up close and personal with these graceful creatures.
Guest Travel Writer Louis can often be found trawling the internet for interesting reads on nature conservation and maritime pieces. When not writing and contributing guest posts, Louis loves reading about writing. He writes for local South African businesses, including the Shark & Marine Research Institute in Cape Town, South Africa.