Tens of thousands of people visit South Africa each year and partake in Shark Cage Diving tours, run in Cape Town, Gansbaai and Mossel Bay along the Cape coast. The general message which is spread is that Shark Cage Diving has no negative impact at all, sharks do not associate humans with the food (chum), the increase (if any) is due to Great Whites being a protected species, and if there was a connection why aren't there more attacks in the precise areas where the Cage Diving is taking place? They go as far as to say it actually is a good thing as it generates alot of money for Shark Research. But there are some startling facts when you scratch the surface, facts that point to a far darker result than the profiteering shark-divers are willing to admit. Read through these 6 TRUTHS below, and make up your own mind if think it still is a harmless, eco-friendly activity.
DISCLAIMER: These Truths are based on the best science available, combined with common sense and experiential knowledge of thousands of hours in the oceans. Justin Othersurfa and his liquid slide-warriors do not claim to be scientists, just concerned individuals sparking a flame in group consciousness over a very worrisome issue affecting our crystal-tunnel seeking existence. In a field where standard scientific hypotheses is virtually impossible due to the myriad factors, and the fact that it might be too late if we wait for further studies to be done, we put this information forward for you to mull over.
pattern which has carried on along the whole coast
from Cape Town to Coffee Bay. Information we have
collected from the University of Florida International
Shark Attack File shows that from 1895
to 1990 there were 213 shark
attacks on humans between Cape Town and Port
St Johns, with 28 fatalities. From 1991
to 2010 there have been 94
shark attacks, with 16 fatalities.
Most recently from 2010- May 2012 there have been a further 18 attacks with 8 fatalities.
That's an increase of one attack every 2.5 years with 3 fatalities (1895-1990), to nearly 5 a year with just under one death (1991-2010), to 6 attacks with close to 3 fatalities per year (2010-2012).
THIS IS NOT A JOKE. Info compiled from scientific data from International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History and The Natal Sharks Board South Africa
Shark Cage Diving started in South African waters in... 1991
A much loved argument for the Pro-Chum protagonists is that using a combination of chum to attract Great White Sharks towards people in underwater cages has absolutely, undisputably no effect on the behaviour of the sharks. This theory has gone to hell in a handbasket with the release of the scientific study done by the Australian Government and CISRO research centre.
The study, "The effects of berleying (chumming) on the distribution and behaviour of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the Neptune Islands, South Australia, August 2011" by Barry Bruce and Russell Bradford (read the full report), showed that the “average residency period that individual sharks spend at North Neptune Island has increased from 11 days in 2001-2003 to 21 days in 2010-2011”. The average number of consecutive visits spent at the islands during residency periods “increased from two days in 2001-2003 to 6.5 days in 2010-2011”.
In addition, the average number of sharks seen by operators also increased – from 2.2 per day before 2007 to 3.4 per day after 2007. The report said that while this did not mean the number of sharks had increased, it did reflect “that they are staying for longer periods, and that each individual is seen more often”.
The report suggested further that sharks were being conditioned to the extent that “daily movements of sharks have changed to more closely match the arrival and departure of shark cage dive operators”. They now arrived around the same time the operators arrived, and left when they left. “This pattern now occurs on days where operators are present, and also on days when they are not present,” it said.
Shark expert Lesley Rochat, from Afrioceans, said that while she had not seen the research, there was every reason to believe that if sharks behaved one way in Australia, similar behaviour would be recorded in SA.
The CSIRO report also identified several negative results, including “increased aggression between sharks if more sharks remain on site”, “distraction by tourism activities resulting in fewer opportunities to feed on seals and sea lions”, and “sharks provisioning on a food source (teaser baits) that is not as nutritious as their natural prey”. These problems had the potential to bring about “unintentional impacts on the overall health of sharks”, and changes to the ecology of the area.
Since this report came out the argument that chumming with cage dive operations has no impact at all has subsequently gone very quiet.
is probably the biggest argument in this whole environmental
tragedy. Most Shark Cage Dive companies say they
DO NOT feed the sharks, as it is actually illegal
according to their licenses to do so. Those that
admit to chumming the waters deny any link that
the sharks associate the boats and caged humans
with food, even though they are blatantly attracted
to the food that is poured into the water. It is
really a common-sense issue, as it is quite obvious
that repeated feeding of any animal by humans will
reduce the animal's fear of humans, whereby increasing
the chance of attack.
argument supplied by the Shark Dive companies and
supporters is that if shark cage diving had an impact
on increasing attacks, why are there not more attacks
in the specific areas where the Cage Diving tours
This is a non-sensical argument, and does not take into account that Great White sharks are migratory in nature. Scientific evidence has succesfully tagged Great Whites travelling from South Africa to Australia and back in a 6 month period, so these creatures most certainly do change locations, and so any negative change in their behaviour should be of concern to not only South African surfers, but pretty much anyone using the ocean in the Southern Hemisphere. So therefore, a shark that is 'humanised' in South Africa could end up biting someone as far away as Western Australia. Fact, not fiction.
For a full detailed account of the trans-oceanic migration of Great White Sharks visit www.whitesharktrust.org/migration.html
White Sharks are usually thought of as small-brained,
blood-thirsty man-eaters, thanks more to the movie
JAWS, than actual scientific fact. Scientists put
on the spot seem to know very little about Great Whites.
Sharks have highly developed electrical sense organs called the Ampullae of Lorenzini. These are particularly concentrated around the snout and this is notable in the Great White, evident from the blackhead-like spots around the nose.
This is why these massive apex predators can be rendered as helpless as a kitten for a few moments, by grasping their snout when they stick their head clear of the water to look around, as they are known to. Grasping the organs of Lorenzini shorts out a sensory loop on the shark, incapacitating it. This is also where the received wisdom originates that you should knock a shark on its nose when attacked.
It is not just that sharks associate these boats with chumming, nor is it that the shark makes some connection with the humans being responsible for the chumming as many suppose, in what is really an illogical conclusion. The reality is that every time sharks are lured to the dive boat, the only electromagnetic 'life force' in the water is that of tourist humans clad in wetsuits, surrounded by the smell and taste of food. A cynic could say that this is akin to teasing great whites, and perhaps it is.