– Please also check Our Resources Page for additional resources and scientist’s quotes.
When Shark Feeding started, it was right to ask ourselves if it was a good thing for a number of reasons:
- Will it increase the potential for accidents to happen (sharks biting people)?
- Will it create some kind of disturbance of dependence for the Sharks?
- Is it bad for the environment in general, whether it is the reef where the activity happen or at a wider scale?
Those questions are important and make sense. But over the years, some people became anti-shark feeding fanatics, preaching that those 3 interrogations described above – or some of them – were true, without real evidences. Probably the Internet effect where every guess thrown out there can become a cult. This led to a residual noise in the back of many people’s mind leading them to think Shark Feeding was bad. And unfortunately, there are built-in mechanisms in our brains to make us discard evidence that will prove us wrong just so we can stay “right” even if… well… we’re wrong ! This makes it hard to change people’s preconceived ideas – but hopefully knowing this soothe our judgment and helps.
The reality, like often, lies in between – shark feeding can be done in a bad way, or it can be done well.
In the last few years, a number of experts, scientists, and experimental divers discussed those points by looking at the evidence from what has been happening around the world.
Some practices were condemned (but sometimes still occurs) as they were shown to have bad effect on either the sharks or the safety of the divers – a good example being leaving tourists touch sharks. Another one that comes to my mind is photographer or videographer trying to get that special shot – putting themselves (and sometimes others !) in situations they shouldn’t be.
Guidelines started to appear to guide shark feeding operators in doing it the right way. Ultimately, we defined a number of rules for the most commonly fed shark species that led the way to a safe, sustainable, and good shark feeding. Gallagher et al. 2015, made a good summary of some of those guidelines, ultimately leading to the creation of a website named “sustainable shark diving” which aim at rating shark dive operator based on their practice. Still, some of those guidelines can be improved as if feels 2015 was ages ago – because we learned so much since.
Ultimately, it is every operator’s responsibility to not only match, but also go further than guidelines. Evolution never stops.