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Consider Cage Diving

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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 www.wsaecoprogram.co.za.

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Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 1

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Over the next seven days, join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish a Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy made the very brave decision to book an expedition to our home in Egypt as soon as Roots Red Sea received their certificate from the Egyptian Authorities that the camp and dive centre was COVID secure. Roots is one of very few resorts to receive a certificate from the Egyptian Government.

We arrived in Roots the day after they re-opened.

Getting together an expedition was a major task. Very few Approved Medical Examiners’ of Divers or Dive Referees are conducting consultations at the moment. Availability of beneficiaries and the requirement to quarantine on return from Egypt affected the number of beneficiaries available.

There was also a requirement to pass a COVID PCR virus test within 72 hours of travelling.

We had decided on a small expedition and on the day of travel we had six flying to Egypt.  Unfortunately, Chris Middleton had to drop out the day before we travelled after emergency wisdom tooth surgery.

Our group comprised of Richard Cullen, Michael Hawley, Tom Oates, Tom Swarbrick, Keiron Bradbury and Corey Goodson.  Keiron was undertaking his RAID Master Rescue Course and, as it turned out, Corey was undertaking the RAID Open Water 20 course.

A deserted Gatwick Airport at 0900 on 10 October

Our outbound flight was before midday on Saturday 10 October and I must admit we were all shocked at how deserted was.  Checking in with easyJet took minutes and when we boarded the plane, we found it less than half full.

Corey is a paraplegic since a car accident two years ago while he was training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment.  Corey has no sensation below the waist and is unable to use his legs.  The cabin crew on our flight were quite amazed to see the two Toms and Michael lift him from his wheelchair and place him in his seat for the flight.

Mask protocols were strictly observed by the team, the flight was uneventful, and the easyJet Cabin Crew superb. We also took a digital thermometer to check temperatures prior to flying.

Corey having a pre-flight temperature check

Hurghada Airport was very quiet and we moved through Immigration and collected our baggage in very quick time.

Two things to note:  If you are travelling to Hurghada you need to complete a COVID declaration for the Egyptian Authorities. If not, you have to fill out the rather lengthy form when you arrive.  You can undertake a COVID test on arrival at Hurghada Airport but the queues are long.  It costs much less than the tests we had done in the UK – BUT – you are required to be quarantined at your hotel until the test result comes through.  This means two days with no access to resort facilities.  If the test comes back as positive you have at least two weeks being confined to your room.

COVID guidelines

Transport to Roots was, as ever, on hand and we were soon at the camp and being briefed about the COVID arrangements.  A lot of work has been put in place to make Roots COVID compliant – and all at considerable expense.

None of the usual hugs with the Roots team and you have your temperature checked every morning and every time you return from the dive centre.  Your dive kit is sterilised every night ready for the next day’s diving.

Sterilised Dive Kit

We all felt very COVID secure.

Check back for tomorrow’s Blog and our first day diving…


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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And the winner of our TUSA Paragon S Mask competition is…

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We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our competition to win a TUSA Paragon S Mask from our good friends at CPS Partnership!

As usual, lots of you entered… but there can, of course, be only one winner!

And that winner is…

  • Lee Evans from the UK.

Congratulations Lee – your prize will be on its way to you soon!

Not a winner this time? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other competitions running on Scubaverse.com right now. To see what other awesome prizes you could be in with a chance of winning, click here!

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