The Sharks pictured above are Caribbean Reef Sharks. I shot these while diving in Sint Maarten with a couple of dive operations: Ocean Explorers and Aqua Mania. Both were very professional and well-staffed.
These beauties are on the near-threatened list due to overfishing and coral reef degradation. They have been linked to attacks on humans (27 since 2008) yet none proved to be fatal. As long as you stay calm, make no sudden movements and keep your appendages close to your body, there’s nothing to sweat!
Sharks are electroreceptive, they can detect minute changes emitted by other creatures. Each fish species has its special electrical signature, caused by its nervous and muscular system. When they are weak or tired, these signals change, which in turn will pique the shark’s interest, often enough for them to have a little taste test. They prey on fish and creatures that are high in fat, which we are not (relatively speaking).
These are wonderful and immensely important creatures. As apex predators, they regulate the fish population. Since they go for weak fish, the strong ones survive and pass on their genes, creating a stronger and healthier species. Without sharks, there would be an imbalance of fish which in turn would cause a ton of problems in the ocean.
This diving experience was one of my favorites, I had wanted to do this for along time but never had the luck to encounter a shark. I needed to see for myself why they have garnered so much attention and controversy. In my experience, I encountered none of the negative stigmas attached with sharks. It completely changed my view of sharks – they are not the scary, deadly beasts that are portrayed in the media. They are more akin to dogs than monsters, though I wouldn’t try to take a shark for a walk. That would be awkward since they have no legs. I digress.
Everyone I’ve talked to asked me if I was scared or deemed me crazy for doing these dives. Frankly at the beginning I was scared, but you quickly realize that they are curious creatures that aren’t out for blood at every single moment. Of course if you provoke them, they will respond accordingly, you just have to be passive and calm, then all will be well. Keep your arms in and no sudden movements!
SO, who wants to go shark diving!?