Thursday, December 18, 2008

The ABC of Commercial Shark Diving

Photo Doug Perrine

Patric over there wrote this in a comment to a post.

It's as good as it gets and deserves to be published verbatim and front page.
If everybody could really bring themselves to heed those recommendations, the Shark Diving Industry would spare themselves much of its current self-inflicted plights.

"If we were advising a new operation under those parameters you set forth we would suggest the following. All answers are based on a ten year site plan.

1. Discuss whose waters these are. Are these the operators home waters or is this being done in another countries waters. Big issue here-know where you are operating.

2. Caged diving vs non caged. We would suggest caged first for the following reasons. With caged diving you can get more divers with varying levels through your dive site safely.That translates into more dollars for the operation. Over the long run your divers skill level will drop. There's a finite pool of top shelf and seriously experienced open water shark divers out there, once you burn through those you need a program that can take anyone at anytime. Cages fit that bill. For a business this makes sense your safety parameters with a cage system is 98% or better.

3. If no cages set your safety protocols as conservatively as possible and NEVER deviate from them. The main issue with cageless dives we have seen worldwide is the resetting of safety protocols "on the fly". If you are doing open water Mako shark dives and have spun up a safety protocol DO NOT start offering cageless night diving with Makos six months later.

4. Always do everything you do with a mind towards the shark diving industry as a whole and to an "end game". Assume a shark attack on one of your divers and drill down the logical outcome from it. Is your operation defensible? Could your divers have been protected with simple chain mail arms and leggings? What will the world think of the sharks and your operation after the attack? What is gov response?

5. There is no such thing as "assumed risk" in commercial shark diving that is a myth put forth by those who have experienced operator error. You are not protected by "assumed risk", it is not a shield or cover for your operation. Ever. In fact the more years you have safe open water or cageless encounters the more your operation is "assumed by your divers" to be safe.

6.Embrace and guide other operations who come to your dive site. It is a natural fact of shark diving, if you have success at a site others will come. We have seen how "snubbing the new guy" works or how the virtual arms race that is "outdoing the other guy" works as well. It is counter productive to the entire industry. I know this is "heretical thinking" but our industry track record on this sucks the way we have been doing it, let's try something new.


The world media is anti-shark diving, it is biased, and it is a monster. The 24 hour news cycle needs stories for the machine, should you as an operator provide a shark attack story your would will be rocked. As a last thought consider spinning your entire operation around shark research and produce data and results.Quickly.

The media will find is difficult to fault both a shark research team and a commercial shark diving operation. At least it provides a thin veneer of legitimacy for what you do.Remember in the mind of the media we are all yahoo's out for a cheap thrill.

Some thoughts."

No comments: