Are we willing to give up the cages? I find myself spending more time watching the sharks from the top deck of the boats I go on than from within the cages themselves. It's certainly not the same, but equally mesmerizing watching the sharks move through the water from above.
Since cage collisions seem to the biggest source of concern for the sharks what about getting rid of the cages completely? Raised platforms could still extend over the back and side decks in order for the bait handlers to attract the sharks within sight of the spectators, but now there wouldn't be anything for the sharks to collide with.
Of course, since diving outside the cage is illegal, the removal of cages means people would have to sacrifice seeing the sharks face to face, and for many tourists, "looking a great white in the eye and surviving" is just too high of a priority to give up; an essential part of checking this particular event off their bucket list. And there's nothing to back up the notion of "surviving" this encounter (no matter how terrible of a show you've seen on Shark Weak that claims otherwise). The divers aren't in any danger. As we've seen too many times it is the sharks that are at risk of injury, and even when they do get in the cage all they want to do is get out.
But don't get me wrong, the desire to see the white sharks face to face isn't without merit. Watching them glide past you, especially when they look at you, is a fantastic experience and it saddens me to suggest taking that opportunity away from people. But maybe that's what it will take to move forward in the industry. Necessity is the mother of innovation. Maybe we'll see some new types of viewing enclosures created if the existing cages are banned?
And even if cages were banned, would that stop people from going on these trips? The list of ways to see white sharks first-hand is pretty limited so my guess is, no. People would still head out to see the sharks. Heck, at the Farallones people don't see them from the cage or the top deck and that doesn't stop tourists from going there.
What's your answer? Are you willing to give up the cages?
#cages #cagediving #cagealternatives #topside #sharkdiving #sharkecotourism #guadalupe #mexico #southafrica #australia #farallonislands #farallones
Debra Canabal of Epic Diving in the WSV hoodie. Get yours!
About the Author
Skyler Thomas is the primary blog contributor, cinematographer, and lead editor at White Shark Video.