10 March 2006

Shark cage diving and shark encounters without cages

Most people have heard of shark cage diving. But now try this: diving with the Cape's sharks with no steel cage for protection.

That's exactly what a local tour company has been quietly offering for six years.

Chris Fallows, of Apex Shark Expeditions, has warned against hysteria after the latest shark incident.

Durban tri-athlete Peter Larcombe was training in Fish Hoek bay on Monday when a shark swam near him and he was hauled out of the water on to a fishing boat. A witness said: "The shark was moving closer to the man. It was a matter of seconds and he would have been another statistic."

Fallows congratulated the fishermen who helped Larcombe, but said humans were not part of sharks' diets.

And he opened his photographic library on the extraordinary company he runs.

Most people would consider such a venture madness.

But Fallows says: "We use cages off Seal Island in winter but we also offer snorkelling with blue and mako sharks off Cape Point in summer when the Great Whites leave Seal Island and are difficult to find.

"Humans don't form part of the natural food chain of sharks. And, as such, in most instances, they're more curious about us, even wary, than they are aggressive.

"In most instances, they shy away from us, instead of provoking an interaction."

Fallows and his wife, Monique, have worked with sharks for more than 15 years and have, for the past six years, offered snorkelling with the pelagic blue and mako sharks off Cape Point.

Pelagic refers to the "blue water" type of diving, over 1 000m deep, as opposed to close to the shore.

"Most of our dives take place (about 25km) out to sea. We use low frequency sounds to attract the sharks to the boat, whereupon the divers get into the water and, under strict safety guidelines, get to encounter them at close quarters.

"In more than one hundred dives with pelagic sharks, no shark has ever acted aggressively."

Do Great Whites generally have a different attitude?

"Although they're very curious animals and will inspect floating objects, they are very selective as to what they bite and consume.

"In all likelihood, Peter would probably have been inspected and the shark would have continued on its merry way, as they've been doing for hundreds of thousands of years in False Bay.

"Having tagged more than 600 sharks of various species within 150m of the shore off the Strandfontein beaches over the past decade, I'm sure people are regularly inspected by sharks and are complacently unaware of it.

"Human beings kill more than 100 million sharks a year and, on average, less than 20 people are killed each year by sharks.

"They certainly have a lot more to fear from us."

Source: www.iol.co.za


At 11:52 PM, Blogger FluffysFailure said...

Sharks don't eat humans, but sometimes they wont realize their mistake until that first bite - in other words beware of sharks with poor eyesight.


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