Scuba Divers In Danger When Large Sharks Circle Them

WildCreaturesPublished: November 21, 201748,109 plays$181.94 earned
Published: November 21, 2017

Reef Sharks are intimidating beasts that grow to ten feet in length and weigh up to 350 pounds. They patrol the reef, often in packs, almost always looking for food. They can be solitary hunters on occasion but when one shows up it's more common to see a second, third, or even more close behind. They are primarily scavengers and no threat to people who treat them with caution and respect, but their arrival still causes any scuba diver to become wary. Despite their general lack of interest in attacking or biting people, they still have a huge mouth full of teeth and a stare so intense that even seasoned divers feel like they at their mercy.

These young divers entering the water in Belize were expecting a routine cruise over the reef. They took along a couple of spears to deal with Lionfish, an invasive species that has no natural predators in these waters, yet they eat so many small fish that they threaten the overall health of the reef. Lionfish are routinely fed to Moray Eels, Nurse Sharks and Groupers in an attempt to encourage predation on the species but it is considered very very unwise to spear Lionfish in the presence of apex predators like Reef Sharks. Encouraging the feeding response in such cases would greatly increase the risk of aggression.

These Reef Sharks, like most large ocean creatures are very curious and they appear in the distance at the start of this dive, circling and investigating the possibility of food. With a sense of smell keen enough to detect a wounded fish from a great distance, the sharks know they can swoop in and snatch a fish right off the spear.

The divers found that the reef sharks appeared in greater numbers at the end of the dive, with at least six full grown sharks circling them closely. Divers must complete a three minute safety stop, hovering at 20 feet from the surface before they ascend to the boat. It is at this time that a diver is most vulnerable and the presence of these sharks below them was a thrilling, but hair raising experience. Reef Sharks are a very new sight on the reef in the area of San Pedro, Belize. They have not appeared here until the past three to four years.

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