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 throw bait into or ‘chum the waters’, put you in a cage and have the sharks aggressively eat the bait in front of you for photo opportunities.
While this may conjure up some of the scariest movie moments from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, it isn’t the typical behaviour of sharks, nor is it a very respectful or humane way to interact with such a beautiful species.
One Ocean Diving, on the other hand, provides 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 project 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 to 8 guests on board for 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 how their biology and physiology affect their behaviour, and how your behaviour affects their mood. In additional you’ll find out what types of sharks you may spot and how to tell if they’re 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 when they’re shown above the water.
You’ll also see for yourself that they do not look at humans as natural prey.
As you’ll see from the video below, the sharks keep their distance and are gorgeous to see (without the cage and disrupting their natural way of underwater life).
With no chum or other human tampering, you’ll feel good about being a respectful, curious observer without adding to their problems or misconceptions.
I want to emphasise One Ocean Research’s safety program. Currently the team has a 100% safety record and are trained experienced experts working for over 10 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 is constantly in the water with you monitoring the sharks, their behaviour and social dynamics.
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 try this once in a lifetime experience!
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 the money, time and exhilaration for an experience you’ll never forget.