As a South African, I’ve spent a lot of time scuba diving along our beautiful coastline. (It’s true, I promise I’m not biased!) With the Indian Ocean on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, SA’s water is teeming with marine life which, in turn, means more predators. As a result, I’ve been privileged to encounter a variety of sharks underwater.

Sharks are like dogs

Foreign scuba divers often visit SA in search of shark sightings and always have a completely natural apprehension. Having worked at a dive centre specifically catered to shark divers where we would often do baited dives, I usually said the same thing to clients: sharks are like dogs. I’ve seen the curiosity of Oceanic Blacktip Sharks who swim right up to the bait ball, trying to nuzzle it open and get to the fishy treats inside.

Instead of wanting to harm us, these same sharks would swim past you at an unnervingly close proximity – merely because they’re curious about you and what you are. Manage to stay calm and keep your wits about you, and you sign yourself up for some of the most magical underwater experiences that stay with you forever.

Responsible diver behaviour around sharks

While the majority of sharks aren’t out to get you, one still has to be cautious around these brilliant creatures. You are in their environment now, after all. Here are some tips for staying safe when diving with sharks:

  • Make slow, deliberate movements.
  • Always keep your composure.
  • Don’t harass, touch or follow them.
  • Never carry fish with you unless you’re a certified professional qualified to do so.
  • Swim calmly and purposely.

Lastly, always keep in mind that sharks can be dangerous and that, while they may seem like dogs, they most certainly aren’t.