Tiger Shark Diving Guidelines

Shark diving needs to be practiced intelligently. Both dive operators and divers should realize they bear responsibility when they choose to offer or partake in shark diving. Both parties must take the responsibility very seriously and take measures to ensure that no unnecessary accidents or incidents occur ? to the sharks or the divers. This is critical in protecting the few places left on earth where sharks still thrive, as well as our continued ability to dive with them in those locations.

Responsible dive operators should make sure that people not only know the risks involved, but are also taught how to behave and how to respond in various situations to minimize the likelihood of a negative incident. Responsible divers should be at the appropriate skill level and well prepared to dive with sharks.

The following outlines our collective best practices, accumulated from thousands of hours in the water with sharks. This may seem lengthy, but we think it is important to be thorough ? and as careful as possible! We recommend taking some time to review this before shark diving.

Planning Your Dive: Do your research! Choose species of sharks based upon your comfort, capabilities and also experience level. A great experience starts with making the right decisions, being educated and also listening to others. Choose the species you wish to see considering the location and best time of year. While some areas always have sharks, there is seasonal variability in other areas. Use the Shark Angel community to research, plan and make decisions. Post on the Shark Angels facebook page ? plenty of folks will have plenty of helpful opinions!

Dive with an experienced, well-established, reputable operator who has experience with the species you?ll be diving with.

Pre-dive Preparation: Make sure the dive operator is outfitted with a first aid kit in case of an accident, and that your dive guide is an experienced shark diver. Only dive to your comfort level and in conditions you have experienced before ? unless you are a very skilled diver. If you are feeling uncomfortable or scared, then it is best to sit the dive out. Do not push your limits.

Do not dive with sharks in low visibility. It is also a good rule of thumb to stay out of the water between dusk and dawn unless you are experienced and/or with a very experienced dive guide.

Check your gear and weight prior to beginning your dive. It is important to make sure that everything is in working order and that you are comfortable when you enter the water. This is not a time to try out new gear.

Some dive operations may provide something to use as a barrier between you and a curious shark. This may be a piece of PVC pipe or often, a large camera will work as well. This is dependent on species and conditions. These barriers should not be used as weapons to hit or poke sharks.

Stay covered. We always think black is best ? including hood, gloves, and fins. White and yellow usually attract more attention from sharks. Do not handle bait on the surface prior to a dive.

Carefully listen to the briefing. Your dive guide knows the conditions and knows the sharks. Ask questions and above all, listen, listen, listen. Remember ? they know best. Prior to the dive, acquaint yourself with the type of shark(s) you will be diving with and their typical behavior. Be sure you refer to reputable sources.

During the Shark Dive Follow all the instructions from the dive guide?s briefing. Listen to your dive guide(s) and stay within eyesight of them during the entire dive. They know the animals best. Determine a set of signals to utilize with them that will allow you to communicate if any issues arise. Quietly enter and exit the water. Continuously turn to get a 360 degree view of your surroundings. If a shark is curious and wants to investigate, he/she is more likely to do so when you are not looking. Make eye contact with the shark to let them know that you see them. Remain calm, breathe slowly and enjoy the experience. Keep your hands close to your body. Kick slowly and deliberately. Be a good buddy. Watch out for your buddy and other divers in the group, stay close to them, and point out sharks that they don?t see coming. Don?t chase the sharks. You will chase them away. Respect the shark?s space. Never touch, poke, prod, ride or otherwise antagonize the sharks. Do not take a camera with you until you are an experienced diver, and experienced with your camera. Be aware that sharks may be attracted to the strobes or lights. They may even bump or try to take your camera. In these situations ? it is best not to fight them. Be sure to keep looking around. Don?t focus so much on your pictures that you lose track of what?s going on around you. If you experience problems with your gear, exit the water rather than making surface adjustments. Keep your head in the water and your eyes on the sharks. Don?t touch the bait or attempt to hand feed a shark. Some dive operations hand feed sharks, but this is only for the trained and experienced shark handler ? not for guests. If you?re in open water, maintain good buoyancy control. If scuba diving, dive with a snorkel so when you surface, you can keep your face in the water and scanning the surface below you. When in a bait ball or hunting situation, avoid placing yourself in the middle of the action. Never ask your dive guide or bait handler to change their baiting or chumming practices to allow you to get closer to the sharks or get a ?good shot.? There are reasons operators have established their practices ? and some dive guides may be too eager to please. If you witness other divers acting inappropriately, tell your dive master immediately. You aren?t being a tattletale, you are ensuring everyone?s safety. It is easy to lose focus and become comfortably unaware. Always employ these best practices, even if they seem needless, and stay alert while diving. When you are unable to maintain your focus and attention to these rules it is time to get out of the water. >