A Great White Shark Sustains a Fatal Injury From a Shark Diving Cage – How Can We Prevent This in the Future?

In general, I prefer to showcase what I call “Conservation Wins” on this blog. I try to avoid violent and negative types of topics since the mainstream media does an excellent job of primarily covering those – maybe a bit too well. I don’t really feel that I need to add to the negativity. Plus, there is so much good happening all over the world, I don’t really need to focus on the bad.

But for this particular story, some of the headlines that I am seeing are not only disrespectful to the shark that unfortunately lost it’s life due to the incident – painting it as a “monster” – but it’s not helping anyone learn from the unfortunate situation. So let’s take a look at what happened without all of the drama and theatrics and discus what can be done in order to avoid this kind of tragedy in the future.

What Happened?

There is a shark cage diving excursion by a company called Nautilus Dive Adventures in Mexico. During one of their excursions, a Great White Shark was checking out the cage when it got it’s head stuck. You can see the incident take place in the video below which was shared on social media on December 5th, 2019 by a Mexican activist named Arturo Islas Allende. This video contains graphic content.

Now I say “checking out the cage” because sharks do not have arms. So they use their mouths to touch and explore things. Contrary to popular belief, sharks are not dumb at all and a lot of these tour operators feed them in order to attract them to the cages to give their patrons an encounter. Sometimes, they only chum the water so essentially they tease the shark and trick them into thinking that there is food in the cage. This provokes the shark to bite the cage giving their patrons “an unforgettable experience of a lifetime”. So it is very likely that this shark had been fed by one of these tour operators in the past and it was looking for a free meal.

As the shark attempted to free itself, it appears to have unfortunately sustained a fatal injury to it’s gills. On top of the injury, the shark – which is a ram ventilator so it needs to swim in order to breathe – was unable to swim freely for quite some time. Arturo notates in his video that it was about 25 minutes.

In the second video that Arturo posted to social media on December 6th 2019, it shows a lifeless shark sinking to the ocean floor.

None of the videos show an attempt to free the shark nor aid it in recovery. There were also no reports of this either. According to Arturo, the tour operators reported that the shark swam away after the incident.

Some Background Information on Shark Cage Diving

Cage diving is a unique way for people to see a Great White Shark up close and in person. Since it is not possible to ethically keep a Great White Shark in captivity, this is the only option for people to see them up close currently. It is also said, that these tours help to keep tabs on how the Great White Shark populations are doing.

To my understanding there is a specific set of standards that the tour operators must adhere to so that their cages will not harm a shark in the event that a shark wants to explore and see what the cage is. In the case that we are covering in this blog post, according to Arturo, this cage was not up to standard.

What Can We Learn From This?

There needs to be a better way of keeping tabs on these tour operators and what state their equipment is in. They also need to be better educated on how to free and revive a shark in the event that the shark is in trouble due to their excursion.

If they are feeding the sharks, they need to understand what foods will be good for the shark and not use food to provoke aggressive behavior from the shark. This might mean less of an “exciting experience” for their patrons, however, this incident is unacceptable and the shark’s safety needs to be taken into account over anything else.

Now I’m a business owner so I understand this next suggestion might aggravate these tour operator owners but – maybe a part of the proceeds form each tour goes back to a regulation organization that will help ensure that this does not happen again. Also, a part of the proceeds should go towards a standardized training that will be required by all tour operators to attend on how to rescue and revive a shark in the event that an accident does occur.

And now I’ll pass the question off to you: What do you think about shark cage diving? Do you agree with my recommendations? If yes or no let me know why or if you have any other suggestions in the comments below.

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