Is Scuba Diving With Sharks Safe?

bat islands bull sharkThe sanity of scuba divers often gets questioned when non-divers and non-shark people see videos of us diving with animals that are for the most part feared in mainstream society today. Are these fears and questions of sanity warranted? The answer as far as I am concerned is both yes and no.

There is no denying the size, power, and potential danger that a shark poses to a human who has entered into their home environment. We are slow, unarmed, and extremely vulnerable. The biggest Great White which was ever caught was reportedly 21 feet long and over 7000 pounds and caught off of Cuba. This is an animal that can put a serious damper on your day. They are built to consume large prey and tear them apart with their razor like teeth. So yes, they are very dangerous but the next question you have to ask yourself is do they want to attack humans?

The number of shark attacks world wide has been increasing in recent decades. In large part this can be attributed to the growing population of the globe and the more humans who are entering the sharks habitat and putting themselves in potential harms way. Other factors which have certainly lead to the rise is that recreational activities such as surfing, scuba diving, and spearfishing have become much more popular.

I have used the website http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/ to get some statistical information regarding shark attacks. The first graph is showing the number of shark attacks which have occurred worldwide decade by decade and the percent of those attacks which have been fatal. You will notice that there has been a remarkable increase in the number of attacks in the past century, however, the percentage of attacks which are fatal has fallen significantly. This can likely be attributed to better first response healthcare which is available at many locations today as compared to the early 1900’s.

shark attack rates fatal

Shark attack statistics from http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/

The next graphic I am going to show is a graph showing what the person was doing when they were attacked by a shark by decade. You will notice on this graphic a massive spike in surface recreationists (mainly surfers) which happened in the 1960s and has catapulted into by far the leading activity where people are attacked. You will notice that divers are a relatively small number in comparison, and out of that group, we are the only group who purposefully put ourselves as close to these magnificent, yet powerful creatures, as possible. There are many theories why sharks aren’t attracted to scuba divers. I commonly hear that they are simply scared of our bubbles, but you would then have to think those using rebreathers would be in trouble. Having dove with sharks all over the world my theory on this matter is that they just don’t care. They have their diet that they eat day in and day out. They have been doing it since dinos roamed the earth. Why would they change what they eat now? Especially when the option is an object that is coated in a layer or rubber, with a steel tank strapped to their back. It just doesn’t seem appealing. While there obviously are some people who are bitten by sharks while diving, I think it is safe to say that in a lot of these cases they probably deserved it. We have all seen the hyper active, need to get in close and touch the shark type divers, who think with their camera and not their head. Use a bit of common sense and you will be just fine diving with sharks.

shark attacks graphShark Attacks In Costa Rica

I thought it would be best to end this blog pose and ease your mind with regards to diving with the bull sharks at the Bat Islands in Costa Rica. One of the places where I highly recommend you visit if going to Costa Rica. This group of bull sharks have been visited by divers from a multitude of companies for over 30 years now without a single aggressive act from a bull shark. No bites, no near misses, nothing. The amount of marine life is so abundant that there is no way these sharks could be hungry. If you use even the smallest amount of common sense, I am confident that you will not be the first!

Happy diving!