For most people, a trip to Florida calls for family vacations to Disneyworld or manifesting beach bums.
If you’re someone like me, you always have a different agenda.
Since I got into diving, I became more fascinated with the beauty of our oceans and the thought of the symbiotic relationship between human and marine life. So, what better way to understand this relationship than swimming with sharks? Crazy right?
Not at all.
SHARKS ARE THE WHITE BLOOD CELLS OF THE SEA
Sharks have been misunderstood and misrepresented in the media, and contrary to popular belief, they do not eat people. I took a trip to Florida to learn more about these feared apex predators. In actuality, the only thing we should fear is the extinction of these animals because they play a vital role in maintaining the ocean ecosystems. They are the regulators of the ocean and tend to only prey on old, injured, or sick fish. This might sound grim, but it actually helps the ocean from potential outbreaks and diseases and leaving only the healthy to thrive. They also prey on large populations, which helps keep them to size to prevent overpopulation and damage the ecosystem.
NOT A FAIR BATTLE: SHARKS VS. HUMANS
Sharks are not mindless killers. Infact, they are actually highly intelligent creatures. With the reported rare shark attacks, it’s not a fair fight. More than 100 million sharks are killed by humans compared to an average 5 shark attacks per year—most of which are mistaken identity.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should go in the ocean and look for sharks to swim alongside. You have to know, these are wild animals, and just like any wild animal, they cannot be tamed and can also be very unpredictable. So how can you help save sharks without necessarily having to swim with them? Education. I went diving with professional shark divers through Shark Tours Florida. Ryan Walton, owner and professional shark diver has been studying sharks for years. He understands them and can predict their behaviors, so it is important that if you want to learn about sharks up-close-and-personal, you must be accompanied by a professional. The crew at Shark Tours Florida are extrememly passionate at what they do, and it shows. You can really feel the enthusiasm in their voice when talking about sharks. Ryan, the way he talks about his favorite shark, Stevie, sounds like a roaming street dog that returns every season. It’s really cute.
DIVING WITH SHARKS
It was nerve wracking in the beginning being surrounded by over a dozen sharks, especially when you throw a couple of bullsharks in the mix. As you swim alongside them, you tend to calm down, knowing that they just leave you alone. Yes, they will approach you, but just quickly swim past you. They’re actually quite goofy and cute, especially the lemon sharks. They have no sense of personal space, so they usually just graze you while they swim past you….rude. The “feared” bullsharks are actually pretty shy. They don’t swim up to the surface and just keep to themselves.
This was a very humbling experience to not only learn about sharks, but also our oceans. Don’t fear sharks. Fear what our world would be like without sharks.