SHARK FEEDING DIVES
Shark Feeding © Andrejs Jegorovs.

Usually undertaken with smaller sharks. Divers rest on the sea floor while sharks are fed in the centre. There are also locations where stingrays come to the water’s edge to be hand fed by people standing on the beach.


A CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE

Many consider it to be the best way for the public to experience sharks. Seeing these amazing animals first hand inspires us to protect them. Turning many divers into avid shark conservationists. Shark tourism also makes sharks more valuable to the local economy alive than dead. This in turn encourages shark conservation and marine reserves.

Others voice that feeding sharks is asking for trouble. And that large carnivores should never be encouraged to associate people with food.

Here are some guidelines you may find helpful when considering a shark feeding dive. We've created these in consultation with diving experts and dive tourism operations. We recommend that you find out if your operator follows these principles:

 

PRINCIPLES

   

RATIONALE

 
  No indiscriminate surface chumming or chumming around boats.     Prevent entrainment of sharks to vessels and to other vessel-based activities.  
 

Only feed sharks using freestanding baits, poles or sticks. Not by hand or mouth.

    Sharks shouldn’t learn to expect food from diver's or snorkeler's hands.  
  Minimise all handling of sharks. Particularly when done as a `show' for divers.     Respect wild animals - sharks should not become used to being approached or handled by divers.  
  Don't take fish from reefs or inshore habitats for feeds. Use fish wastes or unwanted bycatch.     Minimise the effects of removing fish on inshore and reef fish populations and ecosystems.  
  Dive boats should use permanent moorings, not anchors.     Prevent anchor damage to sensitive inshore habitats and reef ecosystems.  
  Find feeding sites in coral rubble or sandy areas.     Divers and sharks shouldn’t damage living reefs.  
  Consider the relative locations of feeding sites and other recreational areas.     Keep feeding sites separate from popular diving, snorkelling, swimming and fishing areas.  
  Minimise number of sites and frequency of feeds. If necessary by agreement between operators.     Reduce the ecological and behavioural impacts of shark feeding in the area.  
  Promote a strong shark education programme. Covering; how they live, the role they play in the ecosystem, threats from humans and diving conduct.     Divers should be well trained in diving procedures. And shark conservation and awareness is promoted in a sensitive and balanced manner.  
  Seek legal protection for sharks and their habitats.     Protect habitats, dive sites and shark populations exploited by shark tourism.  
  Liaise with fishermen and local communities. Support conservation by promoting local educational and interpretation programmes.     Spread awareness of the ecological and economic value of sharks. And their importance as marine wildlife and in local culture.