Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shark diving at Small Hope

The “Shark Emporium” Dive 
We do the Shark Dive in order to allow you to observe sharks, one of the most amazing and interesting animals of the ocean rarely seen up close in our area. Sharks have remained virtually unchanged for millions of years and have proven themselves a vital part of their environment. This dive will give you the change to better understand and respect shark behavior, as well as enjoy the thrill of watching them feed.
Reef Shark

One of the many sharks you will see

Making the chum
We have tried not to disrupt their nature as little as possible. At Small Hope Bay we use a chum ball method. A “Chum ball” consists of fish pieces frozen in salt water. Because the fish is frozen, as it melts it creates a “slow release” of the food. Using this slow release” method, sharks do not associate humans with the food. Although we are conditioning the sharks to a small degree by feeding them we feel we are not changing their behavior.When sharks feed they have a hierarchy. The sharks will swim calmly in and wait their turn; they usually feed one at a time off the chum ball. Some sharks may not even feed at all. The shark feed can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on how long the chum ball lasts. Near the end, when the last piece of fish comes loose from the chum ball one of the sharks will try to snatch it. This action excites the other sharks creating a “Mad Dash” for the last piece of fish. The Dive masters will knock on their tanks when this time is close.

Sharks feeding on the chum


On the sand waiting for sharks

To start the dive you will sit in a sandy area in front of a large coral head in about 60 feet of water. You will relax and get comfortable as the Dive Masters bring the chum ball down. As soon as they bring the chum ball down they will give you a signal that you are free to swim around. It is asked that no one goes closer than 20 feet to, and never under the chum ball. you are welcome to swim around and on top. After the food is gone, and the sharks begin to disperse, you are free to roam the bottom and look for shark teeth. You can go back to the boat at any time you like.

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