Always wanted to dive among whale sharks — or great whites or bull sharks — yet at the same time do it in a way that doesn’t harm the environment?
Well, it turns out there’s a new website that helps you find dive operations that do shark dive tours in a sustainable way.
The sustainablesharkdiving.com website provides tools and “Trip Advisor-like reviews of shark dive tourism operations around the world.”
The website offers shark divers a way to learn about best practices while helping promote more sustainable environmental behavior and safety within the industry.
Over the past 10 years, shark dive tourism has grown quickly in popularity, with divers willing to pay well to have close encounters with these alpha predators. That’s good news for a critically threatened group like sharks.
Rick MacPherson, a marine biologist, conservationist, and founder of the new website, says:
“Over 100 million sharks die each year due to interactions with fisheries. I believe a living shark showcased for tourism over its lifetime is better than a dead shark used once for its fins and meat. I created sustainablesharkdiving.com as a free, open access portal for tourists and dive operators to help underscore the value of healthy shark populations to tourism as well as highlight best practices and lessons learned from shark dive operations around the world.”
Dr. Austin Gallagher, a postdoctoral researcher at Carleton University and principal author of a 2015 global study of the shark diving industry, agrees:
“The value of shark diving tourism to local economies and cultures has emerged as one of the leading arguments for the conservation of sharks around the world.”
Jorge Loria, owner of Phantom Divers, a bull shark diving operation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, thinks the new website will help create a higher standard for the growing shark diving industry:
“Diving with a sustainable business that is safe and educational results in a benefit to both divers and sharks because the more we know about sharks the better we can protect them.”
Mike Neumann, owner of Beqa Adventure Divers in Fiji calls the new website:
“A game changer and a huge step towards propelling the shark diving industry towards a more long term sustainable model.”
For more info, check out the Sustainable Shark Diving website.