I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie, so when we took a family trip to Oahu, Hawaii – I immediately ‘googled’ shark diving. Now, if you do this you will find a long list of ‘cage’ diving experiences. This is where most companies will chum the waters, put you in a cage and have the sharks aggressively eat the bait in front of you for photo opportunities. While it may conjure up your scariest movie moments of Steven Spielberg’s JAWS – this is not the typical behaviour of sharks, nor is it a very respectful or humane way to interact with another beautiful species.
One Ocean Diving on the other hand is an opportunity to not only interact and swim with sharks but more importantly learn about them as a 400 million year old species.
The Pelagic Shark Program is an extensively developed program based on shark behavioural research all hosted by full time marine biologists. When you sign up for a trip, you’ll board a 27 foot vessel with only 6 or 8 guests on board, it is a wonderfully intimate program.
After a safety briefing you’ll leave the North Shore harbour and begin the 15 minute trip out to the survey/dive site. On the ride out your Marine Biologist/Divemaster will give you a ton of fascinating information about sharks. You’ll learn all about the biology and physiology effect their behaviour, how your behaviour effects their mood. What types of sharks too look for and whether they are male or female.
One of my favourite facts about sharks is that they are extreme energy conservers. They will do everything in their power to conserve energy as much as possible while swimming – this fact alone reminds us how misconstrued sharks are shown above the water. Also you will see for yourself and learn that they do not look at humans as a natural prey item.
As you’ll see from the video, the sharks keep their distance and are gorgeous to see – without the cage and disrupting their natural way of underwater life. No chum or other human tampering – you’ll feel good you’re respectful observers learning about them without adding to the larger problem or misconceptions.
I want to emphasise One Ocean Research’s safety program, currently the team has 100% safety record and are trained experienced experts working for over ten years in the water with sharks. They know many of them by name and swim alongside them every day. While you are in the water your divemaster/marine biologist is constantly in the water with you monitoring the sharks, their behaviour and social dynamics with you. One of the things they like to remind you is – that you are several hundred thousand times more likely to be injured on the drive to the harbour than during your experience in the open ocean. So drive carefully and don’t be afraid to do this.
If I sound like I’m trying to “sell this experience” – it’s because when people hear, see or ask me about it – they immediately approach it with trepidation and fear – but after doing this (twice now) I have a completely different view of sharks, and have realized how calm, clever and incredible they truly are. It is worth money, time and exhilaration and an experience you’ll never forget.
Check out oneoceandiving.com for more information.