Sharks are feared by most people – but should they be? A recent survey conducted by SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium suggests that 72 per cent of Australians are afraid of sharks. Yet with several shark species in imminent danger of extinction a growing number of people are learning the need for greater protection. In fact the same survey discovered that 77 per cent of Australians think sharks need great protection. Education is key to changing attitudes about sharks, and diving with sharks is one of the best ways to learn about them. There are plenty of places to do that safely, while gaining a greater understanding for these much-maligned creatures. We take a look at the five best places to dive with sharks.
Here are our picks for the best five places to dive with sharks.
1. Shark Fest Fiji
Fiji now has five shark feeding dives. With four in Beqa Lagoon, perhaps the most famous being The Cathedral, established by Beqa Lagoon Resort, which primarily attracts tiger sharks. It’s an adrenalin-pumped experience as these powerful creatures come in for a tuna-head snack. If you want to learn more about tiger sharks – and the 6 other species of sharks that visit the Cathedral, get your Shark School Certification with shark expert Dr Eric Richter at Shark Fest Fiji 2020. You’ll gain a wealth of knowledge from the seminars and put your new skills into practice diving with over 7 species of sharks including the majestic tiger sharks at the Resort’s famous Fiji Shark Dive – The Cathedral.
Other fantastic shark dives in Fiji include The Bistro, managed by Aquatrek, the original Beqa Lagoon Shark Dive, and The Awakening at Barefoot Kuata Resort in the Yasawa Islands, established by shark expert Dr Thomas Vignaud.
2. Malapascua, Philippines
Thresher sharks are possibly the world’s prettiest sharks, their long tails giving them a graceful (extremely photogenic) appearance. There are a number of resorts on Malapascua Island where you can get to see these creatures up close year-round, including Sea Explorers at Ocean Vida Beach Resort, where you can do daily sunrise dives at Monad Shoal.
Most Philippines liveaboard options include Malapascua on their itineraries during the year, including Infiniti, Atlantis Azores and Seadoors. A great way to see the sharks of Malapascua and the Visayas, is to attend Seadoors Shark College with Dr Thomas Vignaud which runs each July, or their Visayas Shark Specials in October and November.
3. Fulidhoo, Maldives
Fulidhoo, in the Maldives Central Atolls, is home to the world’s largest aggregations of nurse sharks. Night dives are particularly popular, especially to Alimatha house reef, where divers can encounter dozens of schooling nurse sharks. It’s also an inexpensive way to dive the Maldives, at a locally-managed resort accessible by ferry or speedboat from the international airport in Male.
4. Palau’s Shark Sanctuary
For many divers, Palau is the Holy Grail of scuba diving. The fact that in 2015 the small nation declared 80% of their territorial waters off limits to commercial fishing is one of the reasons why. There are numerous currents from far and near making the waters highly nutritious and supporting a food chain from plankton to mantas, and snappers to sharks and everything in between.
There are several dive centres and liveaboards from which to base yourself for a shark diving adventure, including Fish n Fins and their liveaboard Ocean Hunter III, Sam’s Tours, Solitude One and the Palau Siren.
5. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Widely held as the most exciting dive in the world, in Cocos you can expect to see schooling hammerheads, oceanic white tips, silky, silver lace and grey-sharks, as well as mantas and mobula rays – and it’s not uncommon to also see whale sharks and dolphins.
Other Great Shark Dives
Of course, it’s hard to stop at just FIVE great shark dives! Socorro and Malpelo are both fantastic dive destinations for pelagic action and various species of schooling sharks.
In Australia, there are several places where you can dive with grey nurse sharks along the NSW coast – here are our pics for the best grey nurse shark dives, and of course, Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions’ Great White Shark Cage dive is one of the most exciting shark dives in the world.