What to do when confronted by a shark

South African dive sites are renown for the diversity in sea life. It is also notorious for the annual Sardine run and the opportunity to see Great White sharks while diving. The variety of predator species that visit the warm water and dive sites along the east coast make for exciting dives.

 When Confronted by a Shark

  •  Remain submerged if possible.
  •  Use slow, soft, purposeful movements as panicky and erratic movements will excite the shark. Avoid any sudden positional changes.
  •  Do not attempt to swim away. Stay calm – sharks can somehow sense fear. Keep facing the shark and try to get a reef or wreck at your back. This at least ensures a frontal attack.
  •  Try to fend off the shark with something in your hand, be it a rock, your camera, a piece of wreckage or your spear. A shark billy, something like a broomstick or a prodding stick is best, but use it only to fend off the animal and ensure a distance between you and the shark. 
  • Do not strike at the shark!
  •  Prodding it on the snout, eyes or gills is best.
  •  Try not to wound it – it may - will -  become angry.
  •  Avoid using your bare hands if possible – the animal’s skin will tear your skin and the bleeding will compound problems by exciting it.
  •  Ensure that the shark has an escape open to it.

Putting it in a position where escape is via yourself is very unwise.
  •  Powerheads can be used if the situation is right. This requires expertise in their use as well as accuracy, and is only effective against a single shark. Using a powerhead in a school can easily precipitate a feeding frenzy.

TIP
Ensure that the shark has an escape open to it. Putting it in a position where escape is via
yourself is very unwise.  

Note: We do not condone cruelty to animals and don't advise every diver that participate in a shark experience dive to carry a 'billy' stick or prodding stick. It is best to listen to experienced dive masters and dive leaders that will accompany you on the dives. Be guided by their experience and adhere to their rules when signing up for these excursions.

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