Jaws - the name alone is enough to send shivers down your spine! In fact, this fictitious character has quite a reputation among cinema goers of the mid-70’s and has done its bit to discourage a whole generation from ever entering the water again. With history looking to repeat itself with the re-release of Jaws on Blu-Ray, we feel it's time to set the record straight.
Spielberg’s blockbuster hit certainly has a lot to answer for. In our diving myths survey earlier this year, a staggering 27% of non-divers didn’t want to take the plunge because they had a fear of being attacked - an incredible amount considering that, in reality, there’s a higher chance of being hit by lightening.
The odds of being attacked by a shark are just one in 11.5 million - beyond highly unlikely. In fact, there are greater chances of being killed by a dog, snake, falling aircraft, falling coconut or while in a car collision with a deer. The chances of being killed while digging a hole at the beach are even higher than those of being bitten by a shark. The facts say it all.
Sharks have appeared as the villain of the underwater world since Jaws was released in 1975, yet as many divers are painfully aware, they’re actually more of a victim. High demand for shark related products and fins has led to sharks becoming among the most vulnerable species in the sea - so your chances are better than theirs. Find out more about shark conservation work and show your support by visiting the Shark Trust website >
Having the opportunity to dive up close and personal with these magnificent creatures is a true privilege for divers. Have a look at some of our suggested shark spotting destinations...
Famous for its pelagic species and, in particular sharks, South Africa is a diverse and thrilling dive destination, offering a huge array of marine life and stunning migrations. Dive sites between Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks on the East Coast offer fantastic opportunities to encounter Ragged Tooth and Tiger Sharks.
The Azores emerge majestically from the Atlantic Ocean more or less between Lisbon and New York, and are characterised by lush, green volcanic cliffs and picturesque Mediterranean style buildings. The Archipelago of the Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Occurring in deep waters a reasonable distance from the coast, Pico Island offers an opportunity for encounters with this majestic, sleek pelagic shark species. Having been studied for a number of years, their habits are becoming more understood. Classified a ‘near threatened’ species, the local dive operator is working hard to ensure minimum impact on the sharks is felt with strict in-water regulation, education and protection programs. With the aim of the species benefiting long-term from better understanding, a donation is also made to the PADI Project Aware foundation for all Blue shark dives carried out.
Find out more about Blue Shark encounters in the Azores >
Hammerhead sharks are so named for the unusual and distinctive structure of their heads, which are flattened and laterally extended into a hammer shape called a cephalofoil. Unlike most sharks, hammerheads usually swim in schools during the day, becoming solitary hunters at night.
The seas surrounding Wolf and Darwin support huge concentrations of marine life, making the Galapagos the fantastic dive destination that it is. Schools of hammerheads, dolphins and rays make these islands a highlight for many divers visiting the Galapagos. Hammerhead sharks make regular appearances in large numbers year round!
Discover schools of hammerheads in the Galapagos >
The Oceanic Whitetip Shark is an easily distinguishable species due to its stocky build, large size and distinct markings. The snout is blunt and rounded and the first dorsal fin is large and rounded. Oceanic white tips have distinctive white markings present on the pectoral, pelvic, first dorsal and caudal fins. Oceanic white tips grow up to a maximum of 4 metes, although they do not usually reach much over 3 metres.
HEPCA reports that the Egyptian Red Sea is the place worldwide to observe oceanic whitetip sharks underwater. Unlike some of the other shark species in the area, which are easily intimidated by human presence, they are self-confident and inquisitive. This notorious boldness - often wrongly interpreted as aggression, results in close and memorable encounters for thousands of divers every year.
Visit the Southern Red Sea for the best chance of diving with Oceanic White Tip Sharks >
Thresher sharks are shy, solitary creatures, not commonly encountered. Named for and easily recognised by their long, thresher-like tail or caudal fins (which can be as long as the total body length), thresher sharks are active predators; the tail is actually used as a weapon to stun prey. When hunting schooling fish, thresher sharks are known to slap the water, herding prey and the elongated tail is used to swat smaller fish, stunning them before feeding.
Malapascua is a tiny, picturesque island just off the northern tip of Cebu, part of the Visayas group of islands. You can walk around Malapascua in less than an hour or simply relax on the white sands of Bounty Beach. From this magical island, you can catch a glimpse of the elusive thresher shark at Shark Point, one of the few places in the world where there are regular sightings of these shy and unusual creatures.
Set your alarm clock for a pre-dawn start to take a 20 minute boat ride to the sunken island of Monad. The island has a diameter of just 1.5km, with a sloping depth of 12m dropping to 45m. Shark Point is where thresher sharks are frequently spotted, with the occasional Hammerhead and Manta ray too! Local dive centres have put in a voluntary coral preservation system with underwater lines in place, for divers to not cross.
Go diving with Threshers in the Philippines >