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Is diving with sharks safe?

First article

By @OL_tours, September 8, 2014

Imagine you’re enjoying your dive in crystal clear water, drifting over the reef while checking Nemo out, you notice the dive master signalling with his hand above his head in a fin-type illustration. Following his finger you see what he is pointing at… it’s a shark! What kind you are not sure of, but who cares, this is not what you wanted to see and now the soundtrack to Jaws has started playing in the back of your mind…


Usually one of the most common questions of new divers in southern Africa is, “Will we encounter a shark? And if we do, will it attack?”


“Will we encounter a shark? And if we do, will it attack?”


A few tips for diving with sharks

  • As scuba divers, we usually dive in groups and the noise from the continuous stream of exhaled bubbles will deter all but the most inquisitive of sharks.
  • Get the group close together and stay together. This is because you want to create a bigger mass in the water that will deter any aroused shark from being too curious.
  • Don’t dive with your arms flaring and resemble a seizing fish. A shark will not pay much attention to you, humans (specially the ones that resemble rubber aliens under water) is an unnatural source of food.
  • Never wear fins with black and white/silver stripes – then you are looking for trouble.
  • When on the surface, always keep your mask on your face and look in the water every now and then as you never know what a curious shark could get up to.

Would you jump in?

Every year more people die from falling coconuts than shark attacks

During the whole history of scuba in South Africa, there has been only a single attack of any significance on a diver. The victim was attacked while doing a long surface swim before descending 


When you compare this with the probability of a traffic accident, or the number of deaths by falling coconuts, the risk is not that great.


Unless you a risk-taker, is there no dive site in southern Africa that requires a long surface swim. You would either have a shore entry where you would descend immediately as you enter the water or you will be dropped directly above the site by boat.

Diving with sharks in Aliwal Shoal

My own experience

I am convinced that diving with sharks should be encouraged more. These amazing creatures have a place in our seas and play a crucial role in our ecosystem.  


I have dived numerous times while being surrounded by countless sharks. I’ve never really felt unsafe or witnessed an attack. Of course it’s quite exciting and scary the first time, but we as humans are a greater threat to them than they are to us! 


Shark encounters are rare! Appreciate the moment, treat sharks with respect and enjoy it, it is truly an unforgettable experience.


Have you ever dived with sharks yourself, or do you have a question? 

Let us know in the comments below.

  • September 8, 2014