Sharks – Friends or Foes?

03 Apr 2023

Sharks are the ocean’s most misunderstood fish, often sensationalized in movies and stories as man-eating monsters of the deep but humans pose a more serious threat to sharks than the other way around…

  • Without sharks, marine ecosystems face an uncertain future. As apex predators, sharks fulfil a key role in maintaining the balance of the ocean by keeping other populations in check. As they prey on the weakest individuals, they also prevent the spread of disease and improve the gene pool, helping to create healthy ecosystems. Unfortunately, their slow growth, late maturity and few offspring make them extremely vulnerable to exploitation.
  • Shark populations are now among the most endangered species on the planet. This is largely due to human activities such as overfishing, bycatch and shark finning. The latter is horrendous: sharks are killed by the millions each year to supply the demand for shark fin soup, whose alleged health benefits are supported by no credible evidence.
  • There is no evidence that sharks seek out human prey. Most sharks are too small to consider humans viable prey. Any professional, responsible and non-baiting dive center will agree that sharks don’t target humans. All in all, humans are not food for sharks. The sharks involved in incidents with humans are often hunting for similar-sized prey to humans, such as seals or dolphins.
  • Human incidences with sharks are actually very rare. In fact, the risk of such a thing while you’re in the water is minute. Humans are more likely to die from the following: lightning, texting while driving, hot dogs, ants and vending machines. Per year, 6 shark attacks end fatally; per hour, humans kill over 10,000 sharks.

Here at Prodivers we are proud to be ambassadors for sharks, we cherish our encounters with them and love nothing more than introducing our divers and snorkellers to these amazing creatures. In the Maldives they can even be observed from shore with baby reef sharks practising their hunting skills in the shallows amongst clouds of tiny bait fish – it’s absolutely mesmerising to watch.

The marine biology team at Hurawalhi Maldives are researching the local shark population using a camera system called ‘Eyes on the Reef’, which takes a photograph every 5 seconds during the day and can be left for 5 days at a time. Although they keep a record of all the sharks they see whilst snorkelling and diving, it’s very insightful to see the sharks (and rays) that pass by when no one is looking!

What can you do to help? Keep the oceans clean, only choose dive centers that promote conservation, boycott restaurants that serve shark fin soup, and tell everyone you know about your shark and ray encounters, and while here in the Maldives, take the Shark and Ray Distinctive Specialty course to learn more about these fascinating creatures.

Would you like to dive deeper into the shark conservation topic? Here are some suggested resources: