For all those who take up the under sea challenge there is always the distinct possibility that you will one day encounter a shark. Sharks are the top of the food chain in the oceans and seas and they have been around for millions of years and adapted to the conditions over time.
As a good introduction and part of diver training should be more about interacting with sea creatures and to understand not to damage their environment. The are many places within the UK and Europe where you can visit large Aquarium tanks and take part in shark encounters.
The large aquariums tanks have mainly Nurse sharks and Sand tiger type sharks in the nurse sharks are the ones that like to sit on the bottom and not move, unless of course you wave a nice piece of squid at them and they take that and eat it quite quickly.
The sand tiger shark have lots of sticky out sharp teeth and look fairly aggressive but are mainly docile and they are night feeders so when most people see them in aquariums they seem to be cruising and not feeding.
As a Diver I think, as part of the essential training should be to do one of these shark dives if you intend to go diving in seas and oceans. Developing a good understanding and relaxed attitude and knowing how to respect sharks will prove a benefit for when you meet one in the open sea.
Having taken people into a shark tank and developing a diver awareness that these creatures can and will get close to you and training them not to panic but to back away and give the shark space is very good training.
When I was out in the red sea diving in Ras Mohamed the national park, there are lots of good coral reefs and drop offs and out past the drop offs the larger sharks can often be seen. We took a group of novice divers and got the to take a aquarium dive before they went really helped.
The group had some encounters both on day and night dives of shark activity ranging from seeing blue sharks and white tip reef sharks and the whole group had a better understanding and backed off and behave in a calm manner so the training of the aquarium tank made the job of supervising dives a lot easier.
By having a relaxed nature within the company of sharks, they can sense the nervous tones given off by being panicked in the water so eliminating this has proven to me that I feel safer taking groups into areas where the larger sharks may be without compromising too much safety.
Shark dives and encounters are things you never forget if it’s seeing a white tip feeding a night and coming out of the black depths near you. To seeing the larger silky sharks defending their territory by making S shapes in the water a definite time to back off as they seem to only do this before striking.
Sharks will always be in the depths and divers need to consider doing an aquarium dive just to get the edge of fear out from them so they can go off to explore the depths in oceans and seas with a little bit of understanding.