Sunday, December 02, 2012

Cristina about cageless diving with GWS - terrific Stuff!

Shenanigans - but great pic by Daniel!

And I cite.
People who dive with Great White Sharks without a cage need to be solely responsible for their decisions and actions. You cannot trust somebody else to make a judgment call on whether or not to exit a cage or be around a shark. You need to be able to read every single twitch and movement of the shark, or sometimes sharks, and you need to trust your own judgment and be aware of your surroundings...
Then I would want to take time to just watch the sharks and listen to these people describing what the sharks are doing, why and what is affecting them: weather and behavior, visibility and behavior, presence of other sharks and behavior. I experienced this once in my life with a Great White handler and it was pretty amazing: it felt as if a Great White was talking to me. I spent three weeks on the boat and there was not one day that the handler did not correctly judge the coming behavior of the sharks.
Could not agree more - again!
It has taken me months of observation in order to develop the confidence to venture closer to our Bulls. And to this day, any change Rusi and I implement is being effected in minuscule increments, this for our sake but above all, in order to give the animals the time to adapt to the new circumstances.
Were I to decide to go diving outside of the cage with GWS, I would proceed along the exact same guidelines.

But JSD, see comments, is of course correct.
Doing so will always remain an experiment - and thus unsuitable for commercial Shark diving.
We do not allow our customers to interact directly with our Bulls and Tigers; and by the same token, I and incidentally, 99% of the GWS dive operators remain of the firm opinion that cageless diving with GWS is equally unsuitable in a commercial context. 

And is anybody going to heed Cristina's suggestions?
Hardly, as witnessed by the comments on her post - after all, with 20 years experience of how to safely interact with Sharks, what does she know?
Having perfect control over your hearthbeat?
Indeed (and here)!

And so the shenanigans will continue.
For 10,000 bucks a pop and totally regardless of one's motivation and qualifications, let alone diving skills!

And that, alas, is a promise!


jsd said...

Quote, with my comments in capitals:-

'You cannot trust somebody else to make a judgment call on whether or not to exit a cage or be around a shark. AGREED You need to be able to read every single twitch and movement of the shark, or sometimes sharks, BUT WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??? 'READING' THE BODY LANGUAGE OF SHARKS IS RITTERESQUE FOO-FOO-BING-BONG. AND THIS BEING THE CASE, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO LEARN TO 'READ' THE BODY LANGUAGE OF SHARKS IF NOT BY FIRST LISTENING TO THE GIMME-THE-MONEY-AND-TELEVISION-SHOW-EXPERTS? and you need to trust your own judgment SEE ABOVE and be aware of your surroundings SEE ABOVE...'

The fact of the matter is that, beyond a few semi-plausible if intellectually feeble applications of common sense, what you can and cannot do with sharks is based on trial-and-error where, thank God, there have been very few errors thanks to the fact that the trials (with one spectacular exception) have demonstrated most sharks aren't much interested in munching on humans.

...But back to the dictates of common sense:- What happens when sharks realise that we are just slow motion mermaids? Remember: in previous centuries mermaids were everywhere. Now there are a lot of overweight sharks and hardly a mermaid to be seen.




Not sure

Sensible rules for diving with sharks:-

1) Never dive with a shark that has teeth longer than your fingers

2) Never dive with a shark that is larger than your car

3) Always expect to panic

4) If you see a shark with a diver/surfer/swimmer in its jaws, suspect it wants its own Discovery show

5) If you see a shark swim by with Erich Ritter in its mouth, presume that sharks is at least as intelligent as you are

DaShark said...


You are of course correct.
Ultimately, interacting with Sharks (and any other animal - and some humans, too!) will always be based on trial & error, and thus be an experiment.

In that context, Ritter's foo-foo-bing-bong is particularly irritating since he applies the same generic principles to all species regardless of locations and specific circumstances but above all, since a shark has amply proven the author's incompetence.

But by the same token, experience, observation and common sense can help us avoid the most blatantly dangerous situations and behavior.
It very much appears that in unbaited conditions, Sharks are rather benign vis-a-vis SCUBA divers; and during baited dives, one can observe some common sense protocols (as in staying well away from the food) that will minimize confrontations.

Long story short?
Diving with GWS is certainly possible as documented by hundreds of successful endeavors; but it is equally not suitable for commercial ventures as witnessed by the overwhelming majority of highly experienced GWS operators that keep their clients within cages.

But who knows - maybe in 10 years it'll become as ubiquitous as diving with the Bulls and Tigers.
Or maybe some horrific strikes will have everybody resort to cages when diving with any of those large predatory species.

jsd said...

I think one of the interesting issues in this is how we appear to be hard-wired quickly to come to a decision about other animals (predator/prey/harmless/no interest)- and then interpret, in our interactions with them, supporting 'evidence' where there may be much or none. Perhaps this goes back to the Stone Age and the requirement to act quickly (fight or flight) rather than sit around philosophising when a sabre tooth cat is licking its lips at you. But nowadays this has elements of superstition to it. The Stone Age magic man who performed a certain ritual at dusk so that the sun would rise at dawn, didn't abandon the ritual to see if what he did worked -- the sun arose BECAUSE of his ritual -- because then, he assumed, the world would end. So if you think doing x will get you eaten by a shark, but it is OK to do a,b and c, how many people are going to try x who think doing so would be suicide? And what will it take for someone to try x because they don't think it will be suicide?

I agree with you, Mike, about diving with white sharks sans cage. I also think the dangers are considerably greater than with bulls and tigers though the reasons I can give are thin. And 20 years ago everyone would have thought what you are doing nowadays to be crazy!

DaShark said...

Ultimately, all of these are untestable hypotheses - see mutatis mutandis Doc's explanations in this post
In brief, we will never attain the required N of useful interactions allowing us to make statistically relevant pronouncements.

So I guess that we're stuck.
We can follow guidelines of common sense and plausibility, learn more about the behavior of the animals (in general but also at an individual level!!!), and heed the advice of those people with the most experience (=garnered by trial & error!) - and in the case of GWS, they rather unanimously strongly recommend staying within the cages.

That's certainly good enough for me.
Not necessarily at a personal level where I've been known to do some pretty stupid things - but most certainly when it comes to commercial diving!