SHARK DIVING - TIPS & ADVICE
Whale Shark Diving © Alessio Viora.

Diving with sharks isn't usually dangerous. And is often the highlight of any dive. But if you plan on diving with sharks you should be aware of potential dangers. So you'll know exactly how to deal with certain situations if they arise.

Here are 16 helpful tips to know when diving or snorkelling with sharks:

  1. Sharks encountered on coral reefs during the day are usually not dangerous. Unless provoked.
     
  2. Potentially dangerous species include Tiger Sharks and Oceanic Whitetip Sharks. You may encounter these on coral reefs but they tend to completely ignore divers. It's worth learning about the different sharks you may come across. That way you'll be more aware of any potential danger.
     
  3. Avoid diving at dawn or dusk on reefs where there are sharks. Normally disinterested species of reef shark can become aggressive. Also large open water species, such as Tiger Sharks, may be visiting reefs to feed.
     
  4. In remote areas you may find that sharks make initial close approaches, out of curiosity.
     
  5. Sharks that've been hand-fed - such as those at various sites in the Caribbean - are likely to get quite close. They're expecting diver handouts and may become aggressive if disappointed.
     
  6. When diving in waters where there are sharks, swim quickly and purposefully down to the reef. Don't linger on the surface.
     
  7. Sharks tend to be encountered on the current-swept areas of the reef. So avoid swimming in these areas, especially if you can't easily then return to the reef. Reef sharks encountered beyond the reef may become aggressive. While larger and more dangerous species, such as Oceanic Whitetips and Silky Sharks, may suddenly appear.
     
  8. If you're swept off a reef by a current, surface as soon as possible and attract attention so that your boat can rapidly collect you. If sharks appear, don't thrash around. Stay calm. If a shark nudges you, prod, kick, or thump it. But not with your bare skin.
     
  9. Never spearfish in the presence of sharks. Or, in an attempt to feed them. Spear fishermen should never tether speared fish to themselves.
     
  10. If attending a shark feed, stay away from (and NOT down current of) any bait.
     
  11. An inquisitive shark may bump or bite an underwater flashgun that emits a loud whine when it recycles.
     
  12. Brightly coloured fins and dive gear may interest sharks. So we recommend dull-coloured gear.
     
  13. Never pursue any shark. Certain species can attack if they feel threatened.
     
  14. Never photograph or follow a shark that seems to be swimming in an unusual way. Particularly when they hunch their back and point their pectoral fins downwards. Such exaggerated, stiff and hunched swimming postures are agonistic displays. These have been followed by injurious attacks on nearby divers.
     
  15. Be aware that there's considerable risk swimming with dolphins and other marine mammals. Their excited reactions could attract potentially dangerous sharks such as Tiger, Bull, Oceanic Whitetip, Galapagos, Silky, Dusky, Shortfin Makos and White Sharks. These sharks may investigate, or even attack, humans near to them.
     
  16. If you must swim with marine mammals wear fins, a mask and snorkel, so you can swim smoothly. A wetsuit is also advised as a curious shark may bump you. Only enter the water when you're certain that your boat cover can rapidly collect you. Continually scan, in all directions, for sharks. If they appear, don't thrash around. Finally, observe the behaviour of marine mammals. This may provide an early warning to the presence of a large shark. For example, if seals or sea lions suddenly depart, leave the water immediately.

Want to see Basking Sharks?

Help us ensure safe and positive interactions between humans and Basking Sharks.

► Download our Basking Shark Code of Conduct.

► Visit our Basking Shark Project for more information about Basking Sharks.


Looking for a UK tour operator? 

We recommend a WiSe accredited company.

►Visit the Wildlife Safe (WiSe) website for more information.


Are you a diver, or want to be?

PADI offer a variety of responsible diving courses.

► Visit the PADI website for more information.