Swimming with Sharks

Shark Cage Diving in False Bay Cape Town

Today we are going to look at a few tips as to what to do if you suddenly find yourself unexpectedly swimming with sharks.

Some folks go Swimming with Sharks We have all seen those videos with beautiful people with massive fins and awesome wetsuits swimming alongside some of the oceans’ biggest sharks. Heck, they even hold onto a dorsal fin as the shark glides through the oceans curtain. Then, after what seems like the longest time, the swimmer gently swims upward to take another breath to again join the behemoth shark in the shallow depths. This is not a recommended practice, especially for those who are not intimately familiar with shark behaviour. Remember, sharks are wild animals, and just as you would not go walking around with lions, tigers and the like, it is not recommended that you free dive with sharks, unless you are accompanied by a highly skilled and qualified guide. And even then, it’s not widely recommended.

Swimming with sharks can be an exhilarating but potentially dangerous experience, that is why the option of doing this from the safety of a cage, is available. If you do find yourself swimming with sharks, it is crucial to approach it with caution and follow some scientifically recommended guidelines to ensure your safety. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Remain Calm and Avoid Aggressive Behaviour: It is important to remain calm and composed when swimming with sharks. Aggressive or erratic behaviour can be misinterpreted as a threat and may trigger defensive responses from the sharks. Keep your movements slow and deliberate and avoid sudden splashing or erratic swimming patterns.
  2. Identify the Shark Species: Different shark species exhibit varying behaviours and pose different levels of risk. Try to identify the species you are encountering based on physical characteristics, such as body shape, fin shape and colouration. This knowledge can help you assess the potential threat level associated with the specific species.
  3. Stay in a Group: Sharks are more likely to approach solitary individuals than groups of people. If at all possible, swim with others as the presence of a group can help deter sharks from approaching too closely.
  4. Maintain Visibility: Keep yourself visible to the sharks by staying in clear water and avoiding murky or low-visibility areas. Sharks often rely on their vision to identify potential prey, and maintaining visibility can help them recognize your presence and avoid accidental encounters.
  5. Avoid Wearing Reflective Items or Jewellery: Sharks are attracted to shiny or reflective objects, as they may resemble the scales of their natural prey. So, to minimize attracting unnecessary attention, avoid wearing reflective jewellery or other items that may catch the shark’s eye. If you find yourself in the water with sharks around, if at all possible, remove any shiny and reflective objects.
  6. Do Not Harass or Touch Sharks: When swimming with sharks it is important to respect the natural behaviour of those sharks and refrain from harassing or touching them. If you find you are swimming with sharks unexpectedly, approaching or touching a shark can stress the animal and increase the likelihood of defensive or aggressive behaviour. Keep a safe distance and observe the shark from a respectful space.
  7. Follow Local Regulations and Expert Advice: Different regions may have specific guidelines or regulations regarding swimming with sharks. Research and follow any local laws or advice from experts who are knowledgeable about the specific species of shark endemic to the area.
  8. Use Protective Equipment: In some cases, using protective equipment such as a shark cage or a chainmail suit can provide an added layer of safety when swimming with sharks. These measures create a physical barrier between you and the sharks, reducing the risk of direct contact. Of course, this is only relevant if you know you will be swimming with them and do not just find you are swimming with sharks.
  9. Exit the Water Calmly and Slowly: If you feel uncomfortable or encounter aggressive behaviour from a shark, it is important to exit the water calmly and slowly. Sudden movements or attempts to flee may trigger a chase response from the shark. Maintain eye contact with the shark and slowly move towards the shore or the boat. This is good advise too if you find you are swimming with sharks and it was not your intention to do so.
  10. Report Your Experience: After your encounter, consider reporting your experience to local authorities or shark research organizations. Your observations and data can contribute to ongoing research efforts aimed at better understanding shark behaviour and conservation.

It is essential to note that while these guidelines can help minimize risks, there is always some level of inherent danger when swimming with sharks or when encountering them unexpectedly in the ocean. Understanding and respecting their natural behaviour is key to ensuring both your safety and the well-being of these magnificent creatures, if you find you are swimming with sharks.  

On the lighter side, here are a few comical tips to help you navigate this precarious situation: Important Disclaimer, the below is for giggles only and not to be taken as advice. Do Not try any of the 7 points below, if you find you are swimming with sharks!

  1. Dress to Impress: Sharks have impeccable taste in fashion, so make sure you’re sporting a snazzy shark costume. Blend in with your new finned friends and convince them that you are just one of them, Remember, it’s all about the style of underwear!
  2. Serenade the Sharks: Sharks, much like humans, have a soft spot for music. Belt out your favourite tunes underwater, and the sharks will surely be mesmerized by your incredible vocal talents. Who knows, they might even join in for a killer chorus!
  3. Be a Stand-Up Comedian: Sharks appreciate a good sense of humour. Crack some jokes underwater, and you might find them laughing… or, well, showing their teeth. Just make sure your jokes aren’t too fishy, or you might end up being the punchline!
  4. Play Hide and Seek: Sharks love a good game of hide and seek. Swim around, find a cozy coral reef, and blend in as best as you can. Don’t forget to count to ten before you start seeking, though. Sharks can be a little slow at counting fins!
  5. Offer Snacks: Like any good host, you should bring some snacks to share with your shark buddies. A tuna sandwich or a bucket of fish and chips will surely win their hearts… or stomachs. Just make sure they don’t mistake your finger for a tasty treat!
  6. Dance-Off: Challenge the sharks to a dance battle! Show off your underwater moves and see if you can outshine them with your fancy footwork. Who knew sharks had such a killer sense of rhythm? They might even teach you a fin-tastic move or two!
  7. Play Dead: Okay, this one might not be comical, but it’s a classic. If all else fails, act … put on the best performance of your life, one your grade school teacher would be proud of and play dead. Sharks might lose interest and swim away. However, make sure you don’t break character too soon, or they might give you a standing ovation … of nibbles

I am going to say it again, swimming with sharks can be a thrilling experience, but safety should always come first. These last seven tips are purely for comedic purposes, so if you find yourself in such a situation, it’s best to consult the experts and follow the first 10 points in this blog. Stay fin-tastic an keep those laughs rolling, even underwater!

Nadine Bentley

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