|Image by Flying Bloghouse|
What we had hoped might happen.
Here are our final thoughts on the recent Tiger shark video making the rounds. For those "offended by our tone" this is as serious as it gets and opens the wider conversation about shark handling at one of the top shark sites on the planet.
We are lucky to be able to operate there. But that ability is not a god given right, it can and will be taken away if this site suffers any more mass media shark bite events.
Are there solutions? Yes there are, tightening down the protocols so each and every dive group acts and baits in the same manner with sharks in the Bahamas.
Why is it that some sharks are hand fed while others are not? Some sharks are fed from the left, the right, some are crate dumped, some are tube dumped? Some are baited at night, others not at all with the same general population of animals in the same geographic area.
For magnificent animals like sharks who, for the most part, work on well honed instinct where bait plays an all important roll, our multi-operator inability to treat the animals we all profess to care for and love in a consistent manner leads to animal confusion.
Confused sharks are inherently dangerous sharks.
Name one long term successful baited shark site on the planet and we'll show you set protocols for each and every dive group that never wavers. Success is measured with animals that know what to expect. Success is measured with divers who do not switch up behaviors with animals on any given day or week.
Success with sharks allows our entire industry to move forward and grow.
This is not about the use of cages or not, or the rights of underwater photographers, or even the old and ugly standby, "divers accept risk with sharks." That standby has to end, because it is being used currently as a free license in some cases to do spectacularly dumb things with sharks - with paying customers in tow.
This is about just respecting the animals first and foremost by providing them with a set stage to interact with divers on. An area or areas we all agree to use, and a set series of shark protocols we all agree by so the animals we encounter have the best chance of positive and long lasting encounters with the humans who have thrust themselves unto the world of the shark.
It's not rocket science but it is a science and it will take leadership. Leadership that has been lacking, leaving the sharks to make on site predatory split decisions on how to react to the multitude of baited divers who are just hoping for a great vacation...and nothing more.
Patric Douglas CEO