Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shark attack fatality - Bahamas, part II

I purposefully waited before writing my opinion on the matter of fatality in the Bahamas. I think it is disrespectful rushing to judgment and spouting knee-jerk reactions before the facts are in. I am sad for the loss of Markus Groh and no amount of finger pointing and pontificating will change what happened.

What I would like to do is write more about some general feelings that I have about some aspects of shark tourism. I have written about this a number of times. For example here is a link to my latest entry on the subject.

Personally, I am not in favor of creating an artificial situation (chumming) to attract sharks to a dive site. It is entirely possible that what happened in the Bahamas was an unfortunate accident of mistaken identity. If the bull shark (as is reported) wanted to, it could done much more damage to the diver (Markus Groh). However, we need remember that we are dealing with wild animals, in their environment. We as humans are visiting their domain and have to act accordingly.

The most important aspect of diving with dangerous animals is to know their behavior and not create a situation that could lead to an accident. For example, bull sharks are known to be very aggressive hunters that attack without fear - mostly in murky water. With bull sharks, an attack of mistaken identity is a real danger and possibility. The more you know about the species, the better equipped you will be to dive with them, AND truly appreciate their grace and beauty. In my opinion, sharks are some of the most beautiful animals on earth.

An article on the National Geographic website has the following information about the Bull Shark. Note the last sentence of the quote below (italics mine).

They are found cruising the shallow, warm waters of all the world’s oceans. Fast, agile predators, they will eat almost anything they see, including fish, dolphins, and even other sharks. Humans are not, per se, on their menus. However, they frequent the turbid waters of estuaries and bays, and often attack people inadvertently or out of curiosity. (

The point is obviously that shark diving should not be a hunt after adrenaline without respecting the apex predator of the ocean. I believe it is not respectful to the animals to treat them as a carnival ride at a theme park. Perhaps I have a minority opinion in the matter, but I trust that we will thoughtfully consider how we interact with the marine animals.


Link to one of my previous posts on chumming.
Link to a fact sheet on the Bull Shark.
Wikipedia page on the Bull Shark

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