Are you thinking about going shark cage diving soon or is it something that’s on your bucket list?
Shark cage diving is a once in a lifetime experience but as sharks are also known to attack humans and have between 5-15 rows of sharp teeth, you might be wondering – is shark cage diving scary?
We’ll be completely transparent – there have been some horrifying attacks on cage divers, which we’re about to reveal, but normally you won’t have to worry about starring in an impromptu remake of Jaws!
Even though some unlucky people have had a particularly close encounter while shark cage diving, this activity is also the ultimate thrill and it gives you a unique glimpse into the world of the globe’s most feared marine mammals – the shark.
Read on as we’ll be uncovering the world’s best destinations for shark cage diving, as well as some of the terrifying attacks sharks have made on humans. We don’t want to put you off, but we know you’re going to feel more than a twinge of fear when you hear about the time where a shark smashed right through a diver’s cage!
What’s It Like to Cage Dive With Sharks?
When it comes to kit, cage diving with sharks doesn’t require much equipment, apart from the cage itself and a boat, though you’ll have to wear a regulator, as well as a special weighted vest and ankle weights. Many dive operators even use surface air for oxygen rather than an air tank and most will provide you with a dry suit, so you can feel comfortable while in the cage
Diving with sharks is a unique experience as you’ll be able to see them up close in their natural habitat. However sharks are the largest predatory fish in the world, so it’s also a heart-pounding experience, and many people wonder if it’s safe to cage diving.
The good news is that diving cages are normally created from highly durable metal, so you shouldn’t have to worry about a shark bursting through even if they do attempt to chomp down on the cage’s bars. The cage acts as a barrier which deters the shark – so even though you’ll be within a hair’s breadth of those enormous jaws, you’ll be protected.
When Sharks Attack Cage Divers
Of the 108 reported global cases of shark on human attacks recorded in 2022, 57 of these were unprovoked, while 32 involved the shark being provoked into attacking in some way. Most of these attacks happened while people were swimming or surfing though, not scuba-diving or snorkelling, which if you’re considering going shark cage diving, may come as a relief to hear.
In 2022, the majority of unprovoked shark attacks (41) happened in the USA, with 16 occurring in Florida alone – which is the reason the area’s New Smyrna Beach has been nicknamed the shark attack capital of the world!
Species counts when it comes to which sharks are most likely to attack and here the world’s most predatory and most famous fish, the Great White races ahead of the pack, with tiger, and bull sharks following behind.
It’s no wonder the movie Jaws was made all about this impressive creature – but did you know that Great White’s tend to release their victims as they aren’t actually fans of human meat? That means that if one does clamp its massive jaws around you, there might be a good chance you’ll survive!
One nightmarish cage diving Great White attack happened in waters surrounding Stewart Island, New Zealand, where an 18 foot Great White nicknamed Slash, encircled, then savaged a diver’s cage. The massive mammal trapped the terrified diver while he was still suspended in the water, before aggressively chowing down on one of the cage’s floats.
While most shark attacks are carried out by the Great White, many shallow water attacks are actually thought to have been down to the Bull shark, as the Great White doesn’t often appear at these depths.
You might be wondering why sharks attack in the first place – well, one big reason is hunger, as they can mistake humans for their usual prey. Human activity also interferes with their feeding routine, blocking the shark’s prey and this can be another reason why they attack.
Sharks can also attack humans because they are scared – as more people take part in water sports every year, these massive mammals can feel overwhelmed, which leads to them becoming defensive, then sinking their teeth into humans.
3 Best Destinations For Shark Cage Diving
Isla Guadalupe Mexico – If it’s the Great White you want to see up close, then there’s no better spot to do so than this beautiful piece of paradise. Located 150 miles off the magical Baja California Peninsula, this stunning volcanic island is totally uninhabited and can only be reached by boat.
You can go cage diving among Great Whites from July through to November and it’s the only place where you can dive with a Self-Propelled Ocean Cage, which moves you at a speed of 5 knots, letting you snap some awe-inspiring pictures.
Western Cape, South Africa – Home to many Bronze Whaler Sharks as well as Great Whites, this 200 mile stretch of coastline located on South Africa’s most Western tip was known as the Great White Shark capital of the world up until 2017.
Now it’s Bronze Whalers you’re most likely to see, as orca encounters have pushed the Great Whites into deeper waters, though they can still be sighted year-round on one of the many trips running from Gansbaai, and False or Mossel Bays.
Farallon Islands, USA – If ethical diving is a major priority, you should definitely visit the Farallon Islands, located 29 miles from San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge. Here you can spot 30-100 migrating Great White Sharks during peak hunting season, which runs from late September through to the end of November.
It’s a National Marine Sanctuary, which is home to some of the largest Great Whites on record – and operators here use mammal-shaped decoys rather than chum to lure the sharks, to lower environmental impact and reduce feeding routine interference.
Is Shark Cage Diving Worth the Risk?
Sharks can and do attack divers but it is rare for them to do so and most of them are still quite wary of approaching humans. In recent years, some dive operators have been baiting sharks with food to lure them closer though and this has had the knock on effect of emboldening the sharks, which could make them more likely to attack.
Though shark cage diving attacks are rare, there have been incidents where cage divers have gotten a big scare, including one occurrence in 2017, in Guadalupe, Mexico, where a Great White crashed into the ladder of the cage, rocking it intensely!
Shark cage diving is usually safe though and if you do decide to go for it this summer, you’re guaranteed the thrill of a lifetime. Not only will you see these amazing creatures in their natural marine habitat – but take an underwater camera and you’ll be able to snap some memorable shots that you can show off to your friends and treasure forever.