Sharks are undoubtedly one of the planet’s scariest animals. The subject of a great many horror movies, they lurk in the depths of all of the world’s oceans, and even some freshwater rivers too. But despite their fearsome reputation, one of the great lifetime experiences is diving with them, to see these majestic creatures in the flesh, in their natural habitat. A recent survey of 2000 Brits found that shark cage diving is the second scariest activity (after cliff diving), so we ask, is it really as frightening as it sounds?
The first question people ask is whether it’s safe. After all, being so close to some of the world’s most effective predators must surely carry some risk? The answer is that, as with most extreme activities, if you choose the right tour provider, diving in a cage is perfectly safe. There haven’t been any recorded deaths, and only a handful of incidents in which divers received minor injuries or simply experienced a near miss. This is because, not only is the cage robust and secure, but sharks generally do not see humans as prey. Almost all attacks on people have been a case of mistaken identity. As nervous as you might be about diving with these aquatic predators, you’re at no real risk at all.
As for whether or not the activity is truly scary will depend on how frightening you find sharks, and where you choose to go. Many experiences involve smaller sharks, such as dives in Cornwall that aim to attract blue sharks. These animals may reach more than 6ft, but they’re of slender build and don’t have the menacing appearance of their larger cousins. However, in places like South Africa, you do have the opportunity to dive with great white sharks, which are one of the largest and most famous species. These beasts naturally have a fearsome reputation, and while many will argue that they’re not as dangerous as portrayed on the big screen, they are responsible for the largest number of fatal attacks on humans.
It also depends on how confident you feel in the water. While you do have a very strong metal cage between you and the sharks, some people do feel vulnerable because they’re floating in water and out of their comfort zone. However, you don’t by any means have to be in the cage solo, and many people find that the whole experience is better when they’re diving in a cage within a group of people. It’s always worth remembering that you’ll be there with experts too, and they’ll have a handle on the situation whatever happens.
So if you’re considering a once-in-a-lifetime experience, diving with sharks could be it. It’s awe-inspiring, a little frightening, and truly exhilarating because of it. Make sure you pick a good provider – one that has a reputation for both safety and environmentally friendly practices – and you’re bound to have a wonderful time.