Shark Divers - One of the World's Most Dangerous Jobs | Free Documentary NatureMar 18, 2022
There are people who study photography and interact with
sharks and don't use cages, it's their job, but perhaps their worst nightmare: a select group of qualified professionals routinely work with animals, from enormous cold-water
sharks in Canada to great whites in Mexico. and south africa tiger sharks in the bahamas even the largest fish in the sea the whale shark attracts a devoted following and now you can dive with them in the
world's largest aquarium shark
diverse and eclectic group few are adrenaline junkies While many are passionate conservationists and others are simply fascinated Some say obsessed with photographs I love my job A handful of these divers have survived brutal shark attacks The enthusiasm of shark divers and their fear can be highly contagious, believe it or not , diving with
dangeroussharks is big business. are more popular than ever in 2008, the first tourist to pay for the privilege of an open water shark encounter was killed by a bull shark.
Have we finally taken this adrenaline-filled sport too far? Many divers are asked if they are afraid of sharks, they are terrifying creatures to
mostof us, but for some people getting close to dangerous sharks is exactly what they expect, simply swimming in the ocean means we have become part of the food chain, the same can be said for a walk in the forest, but at least we are in our element above the water for shark divers there is something primitive and tempting about entering a strange
worldwhere sea monsters lurk perhaps the best place to dive with one of the
mostdangerous sharks is in the atlantic ocean in a remote corner of the bahamas in the tropics there is no bigger or badder predator than the tiger shark in terms of number of attacks on humans and deaths they are just surpassed by white sharks, the largest ever caught It was 24 feet long and rivals the great white shark as the largest predatory fish in the sea in West Palm Beach, Florida, Shark Divers magazine editor Eli Martinez has organized a week-long expedition to the northern Bahamas to dive with large sharks in an old rodeo.
More Interesting Facts About,
shark divers one of the world s most dangerous jobs free documentary nature...
Cowboy Martínez suffered a career-ending injury shortly after turning to the profession. He then took his passion for dangerous animals to a new extreme. I spent six years riding bulls and doing the rodeo circuit and it was at one of my stops that I earned my professional degree. leave and started going to professional events, I broke my hip and was out for two months so I decided to get my diving certification and I went on a diving trip and I was going down and I saw a shark and that was basically it. I literally hung up my spurs and started chasing sharks after that, after driving overnight from the Florida coast and overcoming Bohemian immigration, the liveaboard dive boat Dolphin Dream headed north to the remote beach by Tiger.
Captain Wayne Smith is credited with discovering Tiger Beach and introducing scuba diving. divers to tiger sharks, I've been coming here for 27 years and we came to this area and anchored because it was a shallow protected area, sometimes at night we would have some carcasses and we would throw them in the water and they would come and start feeding on them and then At one time there had to be so much demand from people who wanted to see tiger sharks that we started making these trips. Everyone welcome to Tiger Beach as you can see we already have a lot of lemon sharks swimming around we prefer everyone to dive too so someone can watch your back while you're in the water once you jump just keep your hands here don't start shake them or splash apart from that, we already have sharks here the pool is open i have to go in there this is what crazy people do this is for my jail tat actually i didn't put him in jail a few last words neil take care of my wife and my children when I started wearing the hat it was to save my hair and it became my trademark so I never die without it.
The only time I don't do it is when it's really cold. I have to wear a hoodie, but I'm still trying to figure out how I can make that work. Lemon sharks are a constant presence at Tiger Beach. They are not generally considered aggressive, but they have been implicated in more than 20 non-fatal attacks on humans. Many sharks, including lemons, can be dangerous under the right conditions. A beautiful animal with piercing feline eyes. They are part of the requiem family which includes other well-known species such as the tiger shark and the blue shark. The animal everyone is here to see is the tiger shark, although it is not endangered, it is very rare to find it while diving.
It takes some time for tiger sharks to recover. Venturing out from the surrounding coral reef, they at first seem relatively uninterested in divers or lemon sharks, but on the first dive of the first day, the tiger sharks finally approached and made their presence known in a big way. So, holy man, I've been a little scary in my day, but that one takes the cake. You didn't want to know what was going on behind you. Did they follow me? It was rolling. I wanted to come right after you, tiger. Yes, I always bit your tank a little. there's nothing I can do about it, the first dive, the first day of the trip, I got hit by two or three tiger sharks right in the lens, coming right at me, they turned their back on you and this big tiger shirt swung around and he he approached.
Me and I backed up and backed up, then he turned around behind you and I guess for some reason he decided that your tank was something you'd like to investigate, so he walked over and just articulated it a little bit. a little bit and you don't realize everything, of course, those are big sharks, quite impressive. I must say that most divers rarely see sharks, the animals are not in the habit of venturing near humans with scuba tanks, breathing compressed air is a noisy business and our relatively large size usually scares the sharks away. here though, we're just another big predator down there for the same reason they are for food, we get our fish from the fish market, the stuff they were going to throw away. we feed that to the sharks so it's a win-win we recycle what they would normally throw in the trash we use about 250,300 pounds of bait a day we get a variety of baits a lot of what we get is uh what left over to the fish houses on heads and backbones after selling them to restaurants and the public and then we also get some bait from some of the local fishing boats that get into these bonitos that are very oily and bloody and are not It's an edible fish, no one eats them for food, they make excellent bait, we have to constantly adapt the way we feed them because they are smart little devils, one of the ways we do it is by fighting, we tend to excite them there.
On the surface we just have the lemons wallowing because it's very easy to get the bait and that wallowing is what's bringing in the tigers these days, you want big sharks, you use big bait, we're preparing a grouper head and what we're going for What to do is fight the sharks, let's hang this on the back and try to attract the tigers to the boat. We will use big heads like this because if we use smaller pieces of fish then the sharks will take it off very quickly, they have a very thick bone in their head so we can hold on with this piece of bait and it will keep us there for a while.
Oh the lemons have taken over this place but you are definitely smaller in the pecking order when the tigers come in and want to feed you know nothing will stop them the lemons will definitely give them away especially when a big 12 to 14 foot tiger comes in, You know the lemons will come and go. From there, the big boss here has to be the tiger shark. You can see here that if a tiger shark can stick his lower jaw into the bottom of this box and just snap it in half, that's what he did here. One of the things we're noticing is that these sharks have learned behavior, at least the tiger shark, where we take our boxes there and hang them up and the tigers have learned to chew on the ropes that we have. boxes that hang so they can grab these boxes and swim with them and in their
freetime find a way to get into the bait that we have hanging and yes it is definitely a behavior learned from the local Bahamians coming out from one of the small islands . there, uh, spearfishing, I don't think he knows these are tiger shark infested waters and these guys are out there fishing, that's extreme, so what do you do with the twisted spear when it gets jeez?
I love my job, another day at the office, oh yeah, it's better. Riding bulls, huh, are you kidding me? Eli Martínez has found a unique niche in the world of diving. His Shark Divers magazine appeals to both armchair shark enthusiasts and those looking for a slightly more hands-on approach after the magazine began traveling with readers. People evolve and start asking us where we are going to dive, maybe they can meet us or when our next adventure is. I organized our first shark trip and it worked out great and we had a great time in the real world.
You know, you tell someone. You are a shark diver and everyone thinks you are crazy here, all these crazy people can get together and no one thinks you are crazy anymore. Martínez frequently dives with aggressive sharks and has many hair-raising video clips of his expeditions. Mako sharks are particularly fast. and scary and they have very sharp teeth, well here you can see the bite marks, this is actually after my last dive with mako sharks. Makos are one of the few sharks that do not hit divers with their mouths closed, they actually attack divers with their mouths open. see the sharks cut as they really bite into the glass as the week progressed the action at Tiger Beach really ramped up.
Aggressive baits and chums were perhaps too successful. A handful of tiger sharks became more and more bold. Eli finally had to use his camera as a defensive tool to protect some of the divers. The sharks do not have hands or fingers, so they sometimes charge or push objects out of curiosity and, in the worst case, they can give a exploratory bite. You expected it, you know, that was hairy Jesus Christ. I may have strayed towards the other divers that were there, but I turned around and was looking right into the face of a tiger shark and it wasn't small either, those sharks came.
They came in hard and, uh, it was intense, it got pretty hairy in there for a moment. I think Eli was trying to get in to protect me because I'm filming one. This other one enters. He just put on. extremely hairy, that's what you really want, you know, everyone came back, no one got hurt and everyone has a big smile on their face checking their tape after the last dive at Tiger Beach. Eli's video camera revealed an encounter that could have gone seriously wrong. This is a sequence. destined for the pucker reel factory featured that's what shark diving is about that's what extreme shark diving is about that was an exceptional dive absolutely exceptional tigers four tigers uh nibbling on the tanks nibbling on the cage the uh the food cage uh was saying That's what it's all about, that's why we came here.
So much adrenaline rush, great shock. Divers are a very small but growing community in the world of diving. They are a passionate bunch and many are staunch advocates of shark conservation, but are they crazy and doing it. They take their hobby too far, it's exciting to go in and watch a shark in its natural habitat and I did a lot of reef diving in that and it got boring after a while and I wanted to start going big. things and getting a little bit of excitement back is partly an adrenaline rush um but it goes so much further that that's hard to describe until you've actually dived with one or swum with one um they're such beautiful animals that are so graceful and powerful. , you know the more you know about them, the less you fear them and diving with tiger sharks is great.
I have done skydiving. I have climbed mountains. I do mountain biking. But nothing compares to that. Nothing compares to such an intense shark dive. The adrenaline rush comes when you first see a big shark in the water, much less 10 or 15. I have been diving for many years in many different places and have experienced many different types of sharks, but tiger sharks are right up there in the pucker factor i.e. the first big one you see, it's like shark divers need a little adrenaline and you can see it during these shark dives if it's a really calm shark dive. "I'm not very excited, but when sharks get excited, people get excited.
If you take someone who has never been in the water with a shark before and has a positive experience in the water, they will come out as a shark advocate and they". We are going to fight for these animals and they willtalk about them from a different perspective and that's extremely important because you know the world still looks at sharks like the only good shark is a dead shark at the end of my days. I know I would love to look back on my life and say you know what I saved a lot of sharks I did my part and some sharks are still swimming in the ocean there is no doubt that sharks have an image problem lift your sharp teeth up the ladder Freezing damn feeding frenzy, no wonder they bring such a pitiful reputation and after all, they do occasionally kill people.
No species has worse public relations problems than white sharks and no shark is more popular with shark divers. About 250 miles west of Mexico's Baja Peninsula lies the remote volcanic island of Guadalupe. From the port city of Ensenada, it is a nearly 24-hour trip on the open sea to reach Guadalupe, approaching the island's intimidating coastline. First order of business is to prepare the shark cages, keep a lot of tension on that line, okay, this is like a puzzle, here we go, that's just turn it a little more please, about a thousand pounds of cage with views here in open ocean. with a little bit of surf, oh my gosh, just beautiful, we put the cages up at night as soon as we got here, we like to have everything organized and in the water, in case there is any kind of problem, it's good to have everything. tie up and start the chum slick and make sure the white sharks know we're here we're ready for business tomorrow at six o'clock guadalupe is a barren, desolate outpost in the open pacific towering cliffs and rugged mountains rise above More than 4,000 feet from sea level 19th century whalers brought goats to Guadeloupe as a source of fresh meat the animals multiplied as planned and eventually destroyed most of the islands' flora and fauna today some of the few original inhabitants left are fur seals, sea lions and elephant seals and life here must be tough this is the kingdom of the great white in the late 1990s long range fishing boats targeting tuna near guadeloupe began to report that great whites were attacking their catch the words spread like a blur of chum come on here it comes oh Beautiful, the industry started here in 2000 when a boat called the Horizon came along and they had heard stories about sport fishing boats that didn't They could bring their fish because the white sharks were taking all the tuna.
More white sharks than anyone had ever seen. anywhere, so we came here on a whim. I wanted to see great white sharks in the back of the boat, but we got here. I jumped into the water and saw these huge, beautiful sharks. I couldn't believe how fantastic they were. It was just It was an incredible experience and at that moment I knew I wanted to keep doing this, I had no doubt and we went from two trips that first year to nine or ten trips a year like the sharks in the great white sharks of Tiger Beach. in guadeloupe they need to be coaxed with bait and nothing piques their interest like tuna and shark bait 101 you make it smelly you make it bloody you make it oily you get all this delicious stuff you mix it with your fingers and you squeeze it to get lots of blood, you make sure use animals that are endemic to the islands, mackerel and tuna, and we start a chum spot.
We do it in a very non-invasive way, but we make it as smelly and disgusting as possible. make sure your friend is nice and fresh, grab some friend like this and we'll see what the mackerel and the water do, look at that seagull, the mackerel and the feeding frenzy, that's fresh tuna, it's one thing to see a great white on television or from the safe confines of a boat it's a whole other experience to see animals in their natural element there is simply not a single creature on earth we are more afraid of I just couldn't believe how big they are They are and how beautiful they are, I mean, they just don't look fierce at all, they look like they're smiling at you until they open their mouth.
The inaugural children's trip to Guadalupe included three children from Mexico, Mike and Marianne. Lieber's own children, Charlie and Emily, this arrow, I know it's heavy, but once you get in the water, you won't really feel it, it helps you sink a little, how does it feel? How many sharks do you think you are going to kill? Seeing the supplies to the end, it didn't take long for the kids to get used to breathing with a regulator and once they started spotting sharks, the biggest challenge was getting the kids out of the water. I don't remember what I was doing. at six years old but I wasn't diving with great white sharks I think it was like riding a tricycle down the street or something well done that was cool charlie someone else turned out well I know charlie didn't want to go up every time a shark would come charlie would be the first to leave oh there's a shark right there he just did a fantastic job.
I'm very proud of him. I think he just had an experience he will never forget. I don't think any. Some of them have had some fears, it's been fantastic, they've been in the cages, they've seen the sharks, they've tried to help on the boat, they want to throw the bait, they want to do everything, I mean, you know. If there are up to 10 children and 10 more children, it can't be better than that, no, no, I was
freezing, I wanted to go out, she didn't want to go out, I have to go to the bathroom and she doesn't come out. and I kept saying she was like no no we some kids here are just finishing the trip and it was successful beyond my wildest expectations.
All the children who went into the cages ended up spending hours and hours in the cages we had. pulling these shaky little five and six year olds out of the water after an hour or two because they didn't want to come up, they just loved watching the sharks go by and I can't wait to see what happens when they come out. at home when they start telling their friends about dr. Mauricio Hoyos is fascinated with great white sharks, there are no permanent research facilities on the island, so he joins tour boats as a boat naturalist. He is particularly excited to work on this maiden voyage for children when I was a child.
Remember we went to the United States and my father gave me twenty dollars and he said okay this is all the money I'm going to give you you have to buy a lot of toys or whatever you want and there was this little shark and it cost twenty dollars I bought it because I really wanted to and my father was very upset because he said hey that's all your money, you can buy a lot of different toys, no, no, I want that talk and I still have it. because since I was little I loved sharks when I saw the first shark it was like my life's dream came true it was incredible it was a huge female maybe four meters long and since then I have been working here on this island every day.
Each fall, to better understand sharks' local movements and long-distance migrations, Mauritius uses high-tech tools such as satellite tags and acoustic transmitters. These devices reveal surprising data about the depth to which sharks travel in search of prey. He has observed that the smaller white sharks in Guadeloupe feed primarily on stingray tuna and other sharks, while the older and larger white sharks eat seals and sea lions. It would be extremely dangerous to acquire DNA samples or implant transmitter devices in open water. Swimming freely with white sharks would be challenging and a little risky okay shut up bring it bring it put it right here right here okay great equipped with an acoustic or satellite tag sharks reveal their depths movements and locations migration and even water temperatures in Guadeloupe.
Mauritius uses acoustic technology to track local sharks. White sharks. In Guadeloupe they spend more than half the year off the island in open waters between California and Hawaii, but what they are doing there remains a mystery. Some white sharks have been tracked by satellite to a remote region in the middle of the Pacific. Nicknamed the great white, thousands of sharks are believed to congregate at this mysterious location each year, whether they are mating, chasing tuna or even giving birth, no one is sure about such a remarkably well-known creature, we actually know very well. little about them, but Mauricio Hoyos is determined to discover rather the church is not here maybe we can go a little well with the luxury of well-equipped tourist boats and their state-of-the-art shark cages Mauritius can also observe the sharks under the water photo Identification is another tool in the young researcher's arsenal.
Each shark has unique markings, scars and patterns. With any luck, Holes will have many more seasons in Guadeloupe to answer some of the questions surrounding these intriguing animals. Guadalupe is a protected biosphere in Mexico, but with minimal funding or monitoring of the waters surrounding the island, sharks are under constant threat from poachers. A set of mature white shark fins can number more than 25,000 individuals and an intact jaw is an extremely valuable prize it is an uphill battle to convince impoverished fishermen or foreign fishing fleets that the white sharks here are more valuable alive than dead i love these animals, i really love them these white sharks are amazing the last three days I have had my five year old son and my seven year old daughter in the water with them and it was just exciting and I can only hope that the sharks are still here for them and their children and their children, nothing could have given me a greater thrill than passing an hour and a half on the water with Charlie this morning when he pointed out the white sharks to me.
I am very, very afraid that we are seeing the end of these and that even five years from now or 10 years from now there won't be any sharks left. Shark diving is not confined to the tropics or shallow temperate waters, in the dark and icy realm of the deep sea lives a mysterious giant, the sixgill shark, ancient hunters who have not changed since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth, living at great depths, these living fossils can reach a length of more than 20 meters. feet there are only a handful of places where sixgill sharks are frequently found in the shallow waters puget sound of washington state and canada's pacific coast one of the best places to photograph and study sharks in the depths of the Diving is British Columbia's Hornby Island Rob Zielinski and Amanda Heath operate a very active diving business on Hornby Island and the sixgills are their number one attraction despite the cold seas and sometimes challenging diving conditions.
Animals generate enormous interest. The main reason people come to Hornby is to see the six-scale sharks. A real draw here in the summer we serve about 500 diving tourists over the course of May to September and all of those people come with the intention of seeing the sexual skills if they are lucky enough to do so. Hornby Island is a unique place. in the sense that it is one of the few places in the world where we can observe six gills in water shallow enough to dive; In many cases, they are located at depths of several thousand feet, which is unreachable by people in most circumstances, recreational diving tourists come here, as well as scientists, film crews, photographers, etc., who are interested in having the opportunity to see the sixth gill in its natural habitat.
Memorial University of Newfoundland researcher Dr. Robert Dunbrack searches for clues about the behavior and biology of these enigmatic sharks each summer aboard his research. The Stalwick Dubrack ship travels to a small flora islet off the coast of Hornby Island. Six gills and their unusual habits raise many intriguing questions, but simply finding the elusive animals is the first of many challenges. It was much more difficult than we originally thought. We worked on the six skills, we thought we could just do a little diving and the six skills would be there and we could make behavioral observations in a way that we could do, say, on polar bears or some type of terrestrial mammal at the study site that we We installed on flat islands in front of Warmby Island.
We spent a few days there on our research boat looking for sharks and didn't see anything and were prepared to leave and look for somewhere else, but on our last dive we saw them. eight sharks and one dive, so as soon as we saw it we decided this was a place to get the job done. The unanswered question about these sharks, of course, is why they enter the shell from the water. They are deep sea sharks. They are known. In practically all the world's oceans, but only in deep waters, a natural conclusion is that they come to feed because this is what animals have to do most of the time is look for food, but we have no evidence that they do that.
They are feeding, it is not known if they are feedingat night and perhaps come to the reef during the day for some other reason. Dunbrack quickly realized that direct observation of the animals was very difficult, the depth and time limitations, the cold water and currents, eventually locating the sharks in the deep reef made research a daunting task. to help you in your studies. He devised two ingenious but simple methods for observing and recording six abilities and their behavior. We have built a time-lapse video system that allows us to place one video camera and take four photographs. frames every 10 seconds or so in a single movie we can get two to three or four weeks depending on the time of year it is just a daylight system we have also set up a stereo system consisting of two video cameras connected by cable directly to the surface, they look towards the same area that they look down from the reef drop, so the sharks will swim beneath these two chambers and based on the geometry of the chambers, we can get direct measurements of the size of the sharks as they pass beneath and there is also a swimming speed that we can use for metabolic studies early in the summer field season, Dunbrack made a curious discovery.
Seals and star sea lions pray for other large sharks to interact with the six-gill video monitors and the weather. -The time lapse cameras revealed the surprising behavior and what was that, that's interesting, it's a seal chasing it, I don't believe it, wow that's amazing, the seals directly below the sharks come under them, it's some kind of buzzing sound, six gill sharks are not known. They feed on seals or sea lions, it seems that these playful mammals are simply curious about their large visitors from the depths. In recent years, fossil remains of prehistoric relatives of six gill sharks have been discovered on Hornby Island, more than 25 species, mostly deep-sea sharks, from the Cretaceous period.
Fossilized remains have been identified. Fossil shark teeth are very common, but are generally attributed to shallow-water species. These puzzling clues seem to suggest that sixgill sharks and many other deep-sea sharks frequently ventured into shallow seas; just a stone's throw from where we were watching these sharks swim, there were fossils of sharks that were there longer ago. 65 million years old and when observing the teeth of these species they are practically indistinguishable from the teeth of the fish that we are observing in the last approximately 100 million years. They probably haven't changed much with the collapse of many traditional commercial fish stocks.
All six gills were briefly considered viable. new fishery but with little knowledge of the reproduction and growth rates of its population, this ill-conceived plan was suspended. Trying to run a fishery with a species like the sixthgill is very problematic, it is a big fish, it certainly has a long life and has very low rates. of reproduction, so sustainable exploitation rates would be very low, so a large shark that could be between 60 and 100 years old could fetch only a few dollars, while we know for sure that this species probably generates several million dollars per year just for the ministry of diving tourism as a living resource the more people interact with sharks passively as divers and get a positive experience, the better it will be for the shark despite many unanswered questions and an uncertain future six sharks of skills inspire tremendous respect from both scientists and divers.
Rob and I consider ourselves very lucky because we are members of a very small select group who have seen many sexual abilities swimming in their natural habitat, it is something many people could never dream of. Doing so is exciting to see this shark moving around in its environment, it's really hard to describe the feelings you get when you first encounter them, to put it in terrestrial terms it would be similar to going on a hike on the west coast and bumping into elephants and giant sloths that lived there 12,000 years ago, it seems like a throwback to the times when animals were larger and more abundant in these reefs and it is a very moving experience;
We know virtually nothing about this species so whatever we get is going to be useful and there's a lot to know and it's something that could keep us going for many, many years along the western coast of Australia, Cape National Park. Range and the Ningaloo Reef which stretches for almost 200 miles. Perth is a remote city on the edge of a remote continent, but that's not where the whale sharks are to find them, you have to fly another thousand miles north to the tip of the westernmost part of Australia, this is as far as you can go. reach from anywhere in australia until 1967. there was not much to talk about in the cape range except perhaps for a few fishermen the cold war was in full swing and the us navy built an underwater communications base on australian soil the radio towers are the tallest artificial structures in the southern hemisphere the base finally closed in the early 1990s and the neighboring town of exmouth lost its main employer the economic forecast was bleak the whale sharks, of course, had never left a village doctor was needed transplant from England who loved diving to help sow the seeds of a new industry, I'm a GP, I got really into underwater photography and bought a small urban camera before I went to Exmouth and was falling in love with the whole thing marine environment there, the coral reefs, the manta rays, the dugong sharks.
All the creatures that are there in Ningaloo, one day in March 1983, suddenly, after several hours of searching, we found a really big shark. I finally got in the water and swam with it and filmed it and I was ecstatic. I had surpassed the moon, I want to swim alongside such a large creature to be able to get so close and so close it was a mind-blowing experience. I knew that whale sharks had been seen at Ningaloo before from time to time, but nothing had really prepared me for the numbers. which we would see coming every fall and after that first encounter in 1983, over the next two or three weeks we continued to see numerous whale sharks, around 20 that season, Taylor had stumbled upon a notable annual event each year from March to June.
The sharks appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Jeff theorized that for a few months in the southern autumn, whale sharks gathered attracted by seasonal spawning events at Ningaloo Reef. He didn't realize the potential of his discovery at the time and even thought about keeping it a secret, but his pioneering research and filming of it eventually brought the story to global television networks. Marine biologists and eventually tourists began flocking to the Cape Range to witness the annual whale shark migration. Taylor is now considered to be the father of whale shark tourism in Western Australia in In the late 1980s a handful of businesses emerged in the small towns of Coral Bay and Exmouth that depended on annual whale shark visits.
Animal-based ecotourism is now the number one industry. I have to tell you about one day this season they saw a very large whale shark, our crew estimated it was probably about 14 meters long, which is about the length of the boat we sail on from April to July. Whale sharks are a huge part of our business and are very important to us as a community and as a dive center, we have clients from all over the world and that is especially interesting considering how far away we are from everything. Our season so far has been fantastic. We had excellent sharks starting in early April and we look forward to them. to run until about the third week of July this year, my first whale shark was around 1996 and I saw this huge fish swimming out of nowhere and suddenly materializing in front of my eyes, it was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had.
Had in Coral Bay and neighboring whale sharks are big business, much of the local economy revolves around swimming with the giant fish Today, marine conservationist Brad Norman joins a diverse group of tourists from around the world Well, good morning everyone and welcome to Exmouth Dive Center and Your Wild Shark Adventure of the Day. We had a lot of action yesterday. We must have started with five or six whale sharks. Alright. What's going to happen this morning is that we're getting on the bus. It will take us about 40 minutes. minutes, we are ready, yes ok, whale sharks are the number one attraction in Ningaloo Marine Park at this time of year, between April and June approximately, there are over 7,000 tourists a year swimming with whale sharks, for which is a really big industry for the region. and it's great to know that many people are interested in whale sharks and are carrying the message about their conservation to their friends and family.
Whale sharks are found in deeper waters outside the shallow reef. Smaller boats transport tourists to the dive boats waiting right next door. coast for brad norman the people on this whale shark watching trip are more than just tourists, they are research assistants who help uncover the mysteries of this fascinating animal by swimming with whale sharks, that's what people come here to do, but there are strict guidelines, the maximum number of divers in the water at the same time and the minimum safe distance from animals once you see the shark you have moved to the side it is okay, you will be in front of it, it will come towards you, move to the side one side and then turn around and just start swimming next to the whale show Hey guys, I've got a whale shark down here, okay, hands up, in group one, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, two more, who else in group one, okay, quick, okay, go, go, the guide's raised arm. indicates the position of the shark, this is the perfect opportunity for the group to swim alongside a whale shark, but you have to move fast, so little was known about whale sharks around the world and I started reading about them.
I was in Ningaloo and was helping with other fish research and heard about whale sharks and became very interested in trying to learn more about them, then the opportunity arose to be able to swim with a whale shark for the first time and it really was one of the coolest experiences. incredible. I remember jumping into the water into the deep blue about 90 or 100 meters away and looking under the water trying to see something coming towards me and then suddenly out of the glue came this huge creature, I mean the size of a bus. , it was literally an underwater bus coming towards me and I was in shock.
I was just watching it go by and it was so graceful and beautiful that it really made me want to help this species as much as I could. fantastic that was huge that was huge that's how we stay there it's amazing it's one of the best experiences of my life really no, it's really amazing basically how aerial observation works: the planes go up and detect the crews of the ships along along the We search the reef for various grid patterns and then when we find a shark we call the boats, give them a position on the reef and then basically talk to them about the shark using the watch code, so at 12 o'clock point at uh, let's say four or five boat links. for the boats and talk to them across about 400 meters to the shark and to the shark and they take control once they get a picture, a small fleet of planes takes to the skies every morning during whale shark season, it would be difficult for dive boats. to find the animals without aerial observation even though sharks are frequently on the surface, they do not come to the surface or emerge for air like whales do, yes, beautiful friend, uh, yes, I have a picture that is cool okay guys wow I already knew the threats that whale sharks face I knew there were species in trouble being a marine biologist and someone very interested in the oceans seemed like a perfect match to save trying to help save the biggest fish from the sea, whale sharks are such a difficult species.
We really have to study because they roam the oceans, 70 of the planets are water and we simply cannot monitor everything, there are niches that are important for them, we do not know where those important places are to protect them another day, another whale. shark, but which one has been to ningaloo before? Has it been seen and identified before Brad Norman and other researchers realized that each whale shark had a different configuration of white spots, scars and marks? We knew that whale sharks have spots and lines all over their bodies. body could possibly be used to identify individuals, it was a case of refining that thought whenWhen you work with thousands and thousands of photographs, it becomes unfeasible to try to match things using tacked photographs, the spot pattern is added to a growing database. of images that identify individual animals science and conservation depend on data and for whale sharks photography is a primary tool like a human fingerprint each animal has its own distinctive pattern of spots the patterns are complex but there is something similar in the night sky the outer galaxies in space there was technology that could catalog distant stars and planets the nasa hubble telescope used an advanced computer program to identify astral bodies with the help of a computer programmer and an astrophysicist nasa technology was modified and adapted instead of identifying stars and galaxies the new The program identifies individual whale sharks.
The process begins with a photograph of an area near the fifth gill slit and the points are connected with triangles. The computer program then analyzes the image and compares the information to other whale sharks in the database. People can just go to Wildsharp. .org and click on the website there is a match page reported date time location and you can submit a photo online there is a bit of work we have to do with processing the photos we do a scan and find a match for a shark previously seen or a new shark, tourists and divers can participate in two ways: one by learning more about whale sharks by going to the website the second way is by swimming with a whale nearby, taking a photo and sending that photo with the date and location sig
natureand that will help us understand more about the numbers and movements of these whale sharks around the world at Murdoch University in Perth Brad Norman continues his pioneering work in whale shark identification his efforts have earned him the prestigious rolex award for company and is now a National Geographic Society Emerging Explorer at Ningaloo Reef, tourists come for the experience of swimming with whale sharks while helping to increase our knowledge of these enigmatic animals.
There are many mysteries to whale sharks that we don't know where they are. they are breeding, we don't know how often they breed, we don't really know where exactly they are migrating to and from and how many are actually out there. These are points that to date we have not been able to answer, but as we develop the program, raise awareness, engage thousands of people to help with whale shark research. I think we can answer the questions. Holbash is a small island northwest of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, the remote and isolated island of Hobash was once reputed to be a paradise for pirates became a base for fishermen is now a popular tourist destination attraction number one for visitors whale sharks every summer the nutrient rich water of the caribbean sea flows south across the shallow continental shelf currents feed a massive bloom of plankton as coral spawning events off ningaloo reef In Australia, this feast of zooplankton and fish eggs is a magnet for whale sharks.
Sharks attract scientists like Denny Ramirez, a marine biologist from the Institute of Biological Research in La Paz, Mexico. Good morning, good morning, how are you? The whale sharks also attract tourists, many of them. Ecotourism has drastically changed the economy of this small island. Fishermen have become tour operators. This was a fishing village and they saw the whale shark every year. But they never thought it would be something important to them. The best strategy to find whale sharks is to get out to the water early. It can take hours to locate the animals and there are no aerial observation planes in Holbox Raphael de la Parra is the coordinator of Domino Projects, a unique program that partners scientists and tour operators to study sharks and regulate tourism activities, and sometimes the best way to find whale sharks is to follow local tour boats.
They are pretty well organized at this point, they will take turns and try not to disturb the animal, they will wait a bit and three people in the water at the same time, then they will move away, then another boat will arrive and drop off their people again, and so on, the Research and tourism go hand in hand in Hobash, operators warn scientists. where the sharks are and convey basic information such as the sex and size of the sharks and whether they have been tagged, but today there is only one shark and that creates a problem, the tour operators have priority and the researchers must wait for their opportunity to work. the animal the standard rule is that the tourists go first and the scientists go last finally the tour boats are finished for the day before the shark has a chance to escape the researchers spring into action the first order of business is to implement a tag yellow identification, this is a new shark that has not been seen or identified before Denny Ramírez wants to know how well sharks around the world are genetically related, where they are going and where they are from.
To do this, he first needs photos to identify them. Denny and other Holbox scientists send their photo ID images to Brad Norman's database in Australia. Together, researchers around the world are beginning to gain a broader understanding of population numbers and global distribution. The number in the image is 44 to 60. For more information about Will. shark genetics needs to obtain a DNA sample she is an expert freediver but it is still a challenge to keep up with the large animals she skillfully removes a small piece of meat with a sharp tool these small samples are key pieces of a genetic puzzle in the Past the surface Danny carefully unscrews the sharp tip of the sphere containing a sample of fatty tissue The meat goes into a sterile container filled with alcohol to prevent the DNA from breaking down This sample will join hundreds of others in his laboratory in the peace The final task is implanting an acoustic location tag that will allow researchers to track the shark in local waters, but the tag strap has to penetrate deeper into the muscle tissue to ensure it stays in place, which causes some discomfort to the animal and quickly leaves the scene the next morning.
Denny Ramirez joins a group of scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory and the Georgia Aquarium. These researchers are in Holbox to gather information on everything from what animals eat to local water conditions. It all helps Georgia's efforts to keep its captive animals healthy and happy. In its adopted home, the work we are doing here at Obash complements the work we do at the aquarium in many ways, so we learn a lot in the aquarium environment and then we also learn a lot in the field, but on our feet. On their own, none of these are really the full picture, we're actually looking at what they're eating and why they're there and we do that by basically taking plankton fingers in every place where we see animals that were actually foraging yesterday and today. previous were fish eggs, they are usually different types of dopa plankton, shrimp, copepods, amphipods, things like that were suggested while Denny prepares his equipment, there is time to test the water conditions, please do not start it, it does much more cold towards the bottom. almost 30 degrees at the surface and 24 degrees down 50 feet down Once several studies are completed, scientists begin looking for sharks, but like the day before, the research team has difficulty finding animals in which They have to rely once again on tourist boats attracted by Booming ecotourism on licensed, unregulated vessels from as far away as Cancun is now crowding an already saturated market.
Whale shark ecotourism has really taken off in the last five years if whale shark ecotourism becomes too predominant so that in all areas of the world boats virtually every animal I think the effect is going to be negative in the long term and I think that ecotourism will end up having an overall negative impact on the whale shark population as a whole I fear that we are going to drive the sharks away from these important areas where they come to feed while the tour boats relax for the day when it is time for scientists to get to work this is an emerging satellite archive tag this tag accumulates information about the depth and water temperature of the sharks and the locations of the shark as it migrates and we insert this dart head under the skin of the shark and travels with the shark at that time and then, as a pre-set time, the connection between the tag and the leash is released in this case in 90 days.
It will reach the surface where it floats and then send all its data to the laboratory via satellite. It appears to be another unidentified shark. First, Raphael de la implants an identification tag. The shark now has a number. In just a few minutes, the team has tagged and identified more than 600 animals. Denny quickly obtains the DNA sample from him and Bob Hueter successfully implants the satellite tag in either Australia or Mexico. Whale shark tourism has shown that a live shark is worth more than a dead one, but is this type of tourism detrimental to the animals.
The fact that we still do not have a great understanding of the dynamics of their behavior once again underlines the importance of let's be very careful with this resource and let's not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs: the goose that lays the golden eggs is the whale shark. The golden egg being the economy that has been driving in terms of ecotourism, we have to take an approach very conservative in terms of how we allow ecotourism to use this resource just as we would fisheries, one of the best places to snorkel or dive with sharks is the Georgia Aquarium, it's the number one tourist attraction in Atlanta and its 8 million gallon pool is now open.
Divers and snorkelers can experience a fish-eye view of their immense Lucian Voyager exhibit, home to some very interesting sharks. of aquariums all over the country around the world is really about inspiring people to connect with
naturewe want to take it to the next level when you come to the georgia aquarium you are guaranteed to see whale sharks, hammerheads and zebra sharks, it's one thing to look to animals through a window through glass, another thing is to be able to get into the water to be in their environment, understand what it's like to be an animal in the ocean, if we can take people there, they become conservationists and care more .
In the summer of 2008, the Georgia Aquarium opened its main exhibit for divers and snorkelers. The first groups to sign up provided a behind-the-scenes look at their experience. My first order of business is that we will vote someone off this island. It's okay and I have immunity, so you guys have to look at each other and decide who you're going to vote for. A comprehensive briefing covers safety issues for both divers and animals. Species identification site orientation and a short video are part of the experience, are you ready? State-of-the-art diving equipment is prepared for divers, but there is still one more briefing.
I'm going to go over a few things real quick just to give you a general idea of what's happening in our exhibit. Today I also want to give you some guidelines for your safety and that of our animals. In fact, it is a rare pleasure to dive in an aquarium. Only a handful of facilities around the world allow the general public such intimate access to their exhibits. Simply beautiful. excited I just hope they fed the sharks many of the participants in the early days of the program were celebrating birthdays or were signed up by friends or family as a gift others saw it simply as a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed yes, good gift birthday, you know, it's disconcerting to see your daughter at the bottom of a really big water tank with a lot of fish that looked a little scary, although there are many unusual sharks in the Ocean Voyager exhibit, none are as huge or impressive as the shark whale and there's not just one, there's four each the size of a small bus, well it's amazing, you know you're diving in the ocean and you have all this beautiful wildlife around you, but it's spread out, it's kind of a condensed version of all dives.
I think I've done it before. It is simply an incredible experience to have so much wildlife often confined around you at the same time. It's just exciting. It was incredible. It's unlike anything I've ever done before. I haven't dived much. but this is the bomb here. Divers are not the only onespeople allowed to swim in the Ocean Voyager exhibit each day. A group of divers perform much of the same routine, but instead of descending to the bottom of the tank, they stay on the surface check that off the bucket list swim with dolphins now with whale sharks that's good gotta squeeze them I'm 69 already in an aquarium everyone is well fed there is no threat there is no concern they look at you they ignore you It's a great feeling, especially for a cameraman who doesn't have to worry about being caught in the open sea.
This is a great place. This is where I'm filming for now. Dr. Eric Ritter is a leading authority on shark behavior. and a forensic shark attack investigator, Ritter has been instrumental in helping change the popular perception of sharks as terrors of the sea to a vital species deserving of protection over the past two decades. Eric has introduced sharks to hundreds of student photographers. and biologists with a great passion for animals and their plight. He is one of the few researchers who dares to swim freely with dangerous sharks. Ritter works exclusively outside the protection of a cage.
What I'm studying is the body language of sharks. I'm interested in how sharks express themselves. their intentions when they approach humans tracking human interaction is a very new field, but it is most likely the field we need to understand these animals, we can't just observe them sitting in boats sitting in front of aquariums, we have to interact with them, my main theory. is that sharks are as predictable as dogs, parrots, cats, animals, that we feel comfortable with the animals that we used to see, we are not used to being with sharks, we simply have to give them the opportunity to let them interact with us in a unique experiment at Walker's.
Gary Atkinson and Dr. Litter lure a handful of large sharks into shallow water. One of Eric's most controversial theories is that dangerous animals like bull and lemon sharks don't tend to attack humans, even when lured with bait. He believes the attacks are caused by curiosity or mistake. identity and should be more appropriately called shark accidents More than 80 percent of attack victims survive primarily because the sharks realize their mistake and do not come back for a second bite. ritter simulates common attack scenarios, such as those against swimmers in shallow waters and those in Throughout his experiments, sphere fishermen in deeper seas throw fish carcasses into the waves very close to where he is standing or swimming.
The most seen action scenario is through exploratory behavior, which means that the animal does not see us as a human being but as an object. Several factors come together, for example, sound, smell, movement of the object, sharks per They are very curious animals, they have a very high level of hesitation, but if their curiosity takes over in the end, they may grab an object just to get a final idea of what it is. The object could be because nothing they perceive is conclusive, which is why in very rare cases they still capture it in the spring of 2002, after almost two decades and more than a thousand dives with dangerous sharks.
Eric's luck finally ran out. He was seriously bitten on the leg by a bull shark. A journalist who accompanied Eric was walking nervously and stirring up debris, reducing visibility quickly. The situation quickly became deadly. A large female bull shark was cornered between the two and attacked Eric, which caused this bite. What I had with the bull shark was one of a general situation that we have done hundreds and hundreds of times. A person next to me did not stay still as I told him, he walked from one side to the other and thus, as he walked from one side to the other, he stirred up a lot of sand. and so we lowered the visibility, so it was us who created the situation, not the animals.
The moment they bit me, I immediately lifted my leg because I had to get out of their mouth and the problem is if you have a 400 pound animal attached to you, there's almost nothing. You can do, I mean, you always listen well, hit an animal, do this, that doesn't work, she let go of me, I looked at my leg and I realized, first of all, there's not much left and, second, I knew I'm going to do it. . Dying in the next two or three hours because I have seen many of these moons and knew how they would end if not treated properly.
Eric was lucky that a small plane and its pilot were on the island at the time of the accident within 30 minutes of the bite, he was en route to West Palm Beach where a team of doctors were waiting for him. He almost died due to enormous blood loss. Once stabilized, it looked like he would lose his leg, but the expert surgeons miraculously performed. I managed to save him months of rehabilitation and determined will spurred an amazing recovery. Additional reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts helped restore use of his leg. The first time I jumped back into the water was about four months after my bite.
The wound healed as much as I could. I was in the water for 15-20 minutes, so the first chance I got I jumped back to the same spot where I got bit. I want everyone to see these animals as I see them. I wanted to see the animal through my eyes I see it even more clearly what we have to do we have to destroy the myth the bad reputation of these animals portray them as they really are they are fascinating incredibly intelligent curious so I'm Back in the water I'm interacting with sharks more than ever so I'd say I'm doing this for the rest of my life.
Dr. Eric Litter has helped dramatically change the popular perception of sharks, from bloodthirsty killers to vital animals that need our protection. authority on shark behavior ritter has spent thousands of hours in the water with sharks. He also dedicates much of his time to the forensic investigation of shark attacks or, as he prefers to call them, accidents, although he certainly pushed his luck many times. ritter has serious reservations about how So far, some shark divers are now willing to experience the thrill as we return to the early days of shark diving. You know, we were feeding the reef sharks and everyone was pretty happy, but in recent years, these adrenaline junkies wanted more. bigger and faster and you know, now everyone seems to want to dive with tiger sharks, white sharks, great bull sharks, but in my opinion it is not a safe scenario, it has gone too far, it is not a question of whether it will ever will happen, but when it will happen. happens and who will be to blame for the sharks in Florida one of Eric's new endeavors is the shark accident victim network there is a growing need for psychological counseling for bite victims and today Ritter will travel to neighboring Alabama to meet a potential mentor and fellow shark attack victim chuck anderson hey joe hey how are you how are you doing the same thing here finally uh yeah what about you?
I'm fine, champion triathlete Chuck Anderson was training swimming for a national competition when a brutal encounter with a bull shark changed his life forever. It was 6:38 a.m. in the morning and I took two more strokes in the water at which point boom, it hit me from the bottom, I started looking around floating in the water and put my face down in the water when I did. Coming from below towards me, I instinctively pulled my hands up to push them off and when I did, we removed the four fingers of my right hand, all that was left was my thumb, as if it were a surgeon's scalpel, I simply cut them off there.
There was no pain at that stage of the game, so Ben was actually coming through the water towards me, but as soon as he passed me he was attached to my arm. He immediately took me to the bottom, there was about 15 feet of water and he got into it. Feeding frenzy where he just grinded from side to side dragging me along the bottom of the sand, suddenly my feet started dragging the sand and I moved under him and when I did I pulled really hard and my arm just came off. into her mouth and I fell backwards into the water up to my thighs and I immediately ran to the beach and I knew I was a very lucky man when I got there I had a big smile on my face and the lady asked me what I was laughing at and I said Karen, I'll be dead, I'm lucky.
A handful of high-profile shark attacks in 2008 created the usual media frenzy, but the death of the first tourist to actually pay for the privilege of diving with sharks created a storm of controversy. Have we finally taken things too far to go to the extreme of trying to challenge sharks, trying to bait sharks to get close to people and paying money to do this? It's just not natural I mean if you're not educated in exactly what you're doing it and you're new to it then you're taking a risk I'm not in favor of that uh he's his if anyone wants to get into that then be aware of which ones it could be the consequences because I promise you when a shark catches you it's not a good experience this is the first death in our sport and it's something you know we all hope it never happens again I think it made us all more aware than could happen, accidents will change. any industry makes you know us as shark operators more careful with our clients with their friends with the people we take into the water I don't think shark diving has been taken too far, in fact I don't even think we've even scratched the surface, There are still many things to do in the water with these animals, there are still many things to learn to see.
I'm excited and excited to be a part of that and help push the sport forward. To the next level if personal experience leads to empathy and better understanding, there is no doubt that diving with sharks is a good thing and even with more divers encountering more sharks, the frequency of attacks has not increased, whether divers of sharks whether they are crazy adrenaline junkies, enlightened conservationists or both there is no denying their passion for these threatened animals many people still share the notion that the only good shark is a dead one the problem today is that there are too many dead sharks and the population remaining is fighting to survive and if the sharks want to survive, we must all become defenders of them.
If you have any copyright issue, please Contact