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Marine Life & Conservation

Consider Cage Diving



Cage Diving

Great white shark cage diving has become a growing industry in areas such as Australia, Mexico, and South Africa. Whether for an interest in sharks, an adrenaline rush, or a spontaneous vacation adventure, thousands of tourists eagerly plunge into cages to experience the great white shark in its natural environment.

Despite the growing industry, there are many controversial issues regarding white shark cage diving and the possible negative effects it may cause the animal. Some believe that sharks are drawn into areas they would not normally be. Others believe that chumming for sharks teaches them to associate boats – and humans – with food.  The most controversial issue however must be around ensuring the safety of the sharks during cage diving activities as well as the safety of the divers in the cage. Many people believe that sharks are being purposely led or dragged into the cages to add to the excitement and experience of clients.

On the other hand there are many how believe that cage diving plays an important role towards promoting Shark conservation  by raising awareness and trying to change the negative perception people have of these animals.

shark finningSharks are being killed worldwide at an unsustainable rate. It is estimated a staggering 100 million sharks die at the hands of humans each year. 70 million of those are thought  to be as a result of shark finning. As the shark fin soup industry grows in China, it puts added pressure on fishermen to kill increasing numbers of sharks. In this particular industry, the fins are the focus of interest, leaving no concern for the well-being of the shark once the fins are removed. Often the shark is thrown back into the ocean, unable to swim which leads to death caused either by drowning or by becoming defenceless pray. Aside from the shark finning industry, sport fishing, beach nets, and by-catch are also aiding in diminishing shark numbers across the world. Currently, 90% of shark species are believed to be endangered.

It is a worldwide common misconception that the shark is to be a feared predator. This misunderstanding of the great white shark generates negative perspectives on the animal making support on issues concerning the sharks a challenging matter of contention.

White shark cage diving gives an opportunity for an understanding of the animal through education provided through crew members during the experience on the boat and inside the cage. As the clients see the sharks for themselves, a pre-conceived opinion of a mindless killer can change to that of respect and admiration for an apex predator. If no education or research is being done by white shark cage operators, then it is simply a business, contributing nothing to the protection and conservation to these animals, merely providing tourists with their great underwater photos of a massive shark.

Cage Diving 3In South Africa, the right to own a cage diving permit is closely coupled with the responsibility to contribute towards conservation and research. A responsible cage diving company will remain within strict permit guidelines and adhere to criteria set by the Governing body. For instance, the bait handler’s job is to entice the sharks as close to the cage as possible, avoiding contact between the shark and the cage or boat. A skilled bait handler is able to keep the bait (usually a tuna head) out of reach, should the shark lunge towards it, but also avoid leading the shark to collide with the cage, which can be extremely difficult in low visibility conditions. If the shark decides to breach on the bait, the handler may not see it until it hits the surface. Throwing the bait out a safe distance from the cage minimizes the risk of the shark hitting or landing on the cage. Of course in this instance, the clients in the cage will see nothing of the shark underwater. It’s also important to remember that every shark behaves differently. Much like people, each have their own personality, making it difficult to predict the movements of a shark around the boat. The bait handlers most geared towards conservation will put shark safety above clients getting their close up.

Conversing with clients is another important conservation tool that is used by most cage diving companies. With anything between 5-30 clients on a cage diving shark trip, there is a fantastic opportunity here for crew and biologists to be in conversation with clients about the animals they are seeing and the behaviour they are witnessing. Interesting facts conveyed in the right way make the trip educational and fun while helping to change the negative image attached to the sharks. Further information about the area they are in, as well as the food they eat is also important for understanding white shark behaviour. This makes having crew members that are passionate and open to taking with clients essential on the boat.

Cage DivingFor a responsible operator, client safety is extremely important. At the start of every tour, there is a safety briefing from a member of the crew or in the form of a video presentation. This outlines what the client can expect from the day, and in particular, how to make sure the day is safe for everyone on board. Emergency procedures should be explained in detail and the client should board the boat feeling safe and comfortable with the crew. As part of the safety briefing, clients are warned not to touch the sharks. This may seem like an obvious warning, but there have been many cases of divers wanting to get even closer, pushing their arms and cameras through the cage, leading to injuries caused either by the jaws or a shark’s tough skin. To avoid this most cages are built with an inner rail, for divers to hold on to and push themselves under water as sharks pass by. Those that try and touch sharks are usually removed from the cage.

In the case of bad weather conditions, trips are usually cancelled. Should a trip go ahead in poor conditions, the experience in the shark cage can be very unpleasant. If an operator goes out in poor conditions, it shows more of a focus on business than shark conservation.

In order to save sharks from extinction it is important for clients who seek the cage diving experience to be given the opportunity to see not only how sharks behave in the wild, but also factual information given by passionate crew members. This type of mindset spreading throughout the world gives a chance for positive outlooks and attitudes towards the sharks.

To find out more about Shark Conservation opportunities and how you can make a difference visit

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Dan lives in Mossel Bay, South Africa. He works with White Shark Africa and is passionate about conservation through education.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Review: David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet



Regular contributors, CJ & Mike from Bimble in the Blue, review the Netlix documentary: David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet

David Attenborough’s latest and arguably most important documentary to date is now showing on Netflix.  It is, in his own words, his “witness statement” of a unique life exploring and documenting the wonders of the natural world.

Attenborough looks back and realizes that the previously gradual changes he witnessed (animal species becoming harder to find and fewer wild spaces) have now become vastly more widespread and noticeable. As the human population increased, so has the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, while the amount of wilderness has decreased.  His conclusion: human activity and man-made climate change have accelerated the pace of biodiversity loss.  This not only imperils the majority of natural habitats and creatures on Earth, but also the very future of humankind.

From images of lush green landscapes we journey with him over time to revisit these places, now wastelands. One of the most haunting is the contrast between early footage of orangutans swinging through the rainforest, to recent images of an orangutan clinging onto a lone tree devoid of all but one branch in the wreckage of a deforested site. Attenborough then makes a statement that has stuck with me since watching “A Life On This Planet”: that though we undoubtably have an obligation to care for the natural world, it’s not just about saving other species.  It is about saving ourselves.  His drive and determination to advocate and spread this message as much as possible at the age of 94 is both impressive and humbling, yet Attenborough manages to make this serious subject an unexpectedly positive learning experience.

In the final chapter of the movie Attenborough turns from the bleak reality of the destruction of Earth’s biodiversity, and offers a lifeline of hope and positivity. We can, he tells us, reverse the damage we have caused, we can save our species and the wonders of the natural world, and it can be done with just a few conceptually simple actions.  It’s enough to enthuse even the most jaded and pessimistic of conservationists!  Attenborough has an amazing ability to awaken our love of the natural world and now he shows us our future is in our hands. It’s time to act.  But we must start now and it must be a united effort.

You don’t have to be a scuba diver to be impressed with the eloquence of David Attenborough’s words, or his powerful yet simple message. We are self-confessed Attenborough super fans, but I don’t think anyone could contest that this is a stunning 1 hour and 20 minutes of hard hitting brilliance. The film closes with the comment, “Who else needs to see it?” The answer is all of us.  We highly recommend this documentary to everyone. Put simply if you watch no other documentary this year, watch this one.

For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Join Reef-World’s sustainability webinar at the first ever Scuba.Digital



Reef-WorldJoin Reef-World and a panel of industry experts at the first ever Scuba.Digital for an open discussion on green tourism and how this might be shaped by a post-corona world.

 The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is pleased to invite its supporters to its Sustainable Diving event on the main stage of Scuba.Digital 2020 (3pm BST on Friday 23 October 2020). At this virtual Q&A, members of the public will hear from industry leaders about the steps they’re taking towards sustainability, particularly in light of the current pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed plans and caused uncertainty across the dive industry: not least when it comes to sustainability. It has also led to a surge in the volume of plastic waste – particularly from single-use and hard-to-recycle products – with masks and gloves being found washed up on beaches. So, what now for green tourism? In this session, attendees will discover the unexpected environmental challenges that have been caused by the pandemic, how sustainability leaders are overcoming those obstacles and the simple changes YOU can make to protect coral reefs for future generations.

Reef-World and the United Nations Environment Programme will host a lively virtual discussion with PADI, Explorer Ventures Liveaboard Fleet, Scuba.Digital, Paralenz, ZuBlu and Bubbles Dive Centre. Together, they will talk about how the sustainability of the diving industry has been impacted by Covid-19 and predictions for the future of green tourism. Attendees will learn:

  • Why is coral so important and how they can be protected through sustainable diving practices
  • What sustainability leaders across the industry are doing to protect coral reefs
  • And how they’ve adjusted their plans in light of the current pandemic
  • What the future of sustainable tourism might look like, according to the expert panel
  • & the simple changes YOU can make to protect coral reefs for future generations.

The panel discussion will be available to watch on the Scuba.Digital main stage at 3-3.30pm and 4-4.30pm BST (with a short break in between the two sessions) on Friday 23 October 2020. Attendees will be able to submit their own questions to the panel too.

Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “Reef-World’s sustainable diving events have been gaining momentum in previous years so we’re delighted to be able to host this exciting panel event despite current travel restrictions. While the pandemic is causing challenges across the industry, it also offers the opportunity for us to pause, regroup and plan to build back better with a more sustainable tourism industry. We must act now to protect our coral reefs – the very asset upon which our industry depends – and we must work together. So, we’re thrilled to be shining a light on the future of sustainability and help both recreational and professional divers around the world understand how they can support the cause.”

Natalie Harms, Marine Litter Focal Point, COBSEA Secretariat, UNEP – who will be chairing the event – said: “This crisis is hitting marine tourism and the people who depend on it hard. It has showed us once more that our health and the health of our ecosystems are inextricably linked. There is no silver lining for nature – now more than ever the diving community can lead by example and join hands for a sound environmental response to the crisis.”

The 2020 panel represent a range of companies who are innovating when it comes to sustainability:

Reef-World – the leader in marine tourism sustainability – aims to make sustainable diving and snorkelling the social norm.

The UN Environment Programme – the leading authority setting the global environmental agenda, which provides technical advice, support and funding for Reef-World’s Green Fins programme

Scuba.Digital – run by the team at ScubaClick Ltd – was created to help the diving industry network, collaborate and innovate in a way that won’t be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

PADI – The world’s largest diving organisation made a proclamation for the planet in 2019: shifting its brand tagline to “Seek Adventure. Save the Ocean” in order to expand its mission to include a deeper commitment to taking action to protect people and planet.

Explorer Ventures Liveaboard Fleet – is enhancing environmental operations through a customised management strategy, starting with its Caribbean vessels. It is also helping The Reef-World Foundation establish targeted liveaboard protocols as part of the Green Fins initiative with the hope of improving dive operator and liveaboard policies worldwide.

ZuBlu – is a travel platform helping scuba divers and marine enthusiasts discover and book their next underwater adventure in Asia

Paralenz – has developed a camera that enable divers to capture and share the state and life of the Ocean as a seamless part of the dive

Bubbles Dive Centre – in Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia, is one of the global Top 10 Green Fins members.

This online panel event is relevant to representatives from all segments of the diving industry: recreational divers, dive professionals, dive operators, liveaboards, resorts, travel providers, diver training organisations, manufacturers, photographers, the media and more.

Jason Haiselden, Marketing & Sales Director at ScubaClick Ltd and Scuba.Digital, said: “It is great that Reef-World has grabbed the opportunity that Scuba.Digital presents to tell the industry and the diving and snorkelling public how they can make what we do more sustainable. Covid is forcing change upon us so why not take the opportunity to make sustainable changes.”

For more information, please visit / or come and meet The Reef-World Foundation team at Scuba.Digital.

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