Scuba divers have mixed reactions when sharks circle and bump them
Caribbean reef sharks are new to the waters around Belize. It is believed that the slight warming of the ocean has encouraged them to venture this far north. They are not usually dangerous to humans, but the sight of a ten foot long eating machine with rows and rows of razor sharp teeth can still get a scuba diver's heart rate up. They don't see humans as food, but they are often curious enough to come close and make an inspection to be certain.
Divers were finishing an hour long dive over the coral reefs off Ambergrise Caye in Belize and they were preparing for their three minute safety stop. The buildup of nitrogen gas in a diver's bloodstream can cause severe problems if they surface without completing this stop at twenty feet to expel the nitrogen. But being suspended over the reef is when a diver is the most visible, and also the most vulnerable. These divers had speared some lion fish and were taking them back to the boat. They had been stored in a plastic tube to protect the divers from the venomous spines and painful sting of the lion fish. The smell of the lionfish had obviously attracted the attention of a group of hungry reef sharks.
As the divers began the safety stop, the dive master was checking on the other divers and watching them to be sure that they were monitoring their gauges. This caused him to be looking up and not below as the first shark made a sudden turn below him and went after his fins. Seeing other divers pointing, he looked down and saw the face of the large shark below, and very close. He quickly pulled his fins up and away from the shark and paddled his arms to create distance. despite his understanding of sharks, and the extremely low risk of being bitten, it was startling to notice it heading right at him from below.
Another diver with a GoPro camera recorded a shark doing a similar thing below him, but this shark did not turn away. Instead, it bumped right into the diver's hips and groin area before swimming off. It circled him, moving closer and trying to get behind him. He turned and kept the camera on the pole between them, as he maintained a vertical position. Another shark tried to come up from beneath to get close as well.
While all of this was going on, another diver with a camera was enjoying the show and he was as curious about the sharks as they were about the divers. He can be seen recording and even swimming toward the large beasts.He clearly had no concerns about the intentions of the sharks.
When the sharks appeared, the diver with the tube of lion fish actually descended and untied the tube from his dive vest so he could leave it on the reef. He unraveled the string so that he could create distance between himself and the tube, yet still retrieve it when he got to the boat. When reef sharks appear, it is safer not to have dead or injured fish attached to you because it will trigger feeding behavior and aggression among predators.
This video shows greatly varied reactions to being up close with a pack of hungry sharks.