Scuba divers surrounded by sharks due to other group's irresponsible behavior
Scuba divers are well aware when they enter the ocean that they are at the mercy of the elements and the animals that live there. Humans are guests in their domain and they are very vulnerable. They swim among creatures that are predators one minute and prey the next. The balance is complicated and it can change in an instant. On land, people are adapted for survival and domination. It is not the case in the ocean. We are awkward and clumsy, slow-moving and extremely limited in every sense.
These divers were ready for a wall dive near the Great Blue Hole in Belize. The strapped on their air tanks, checked their equipment, and rolled off the back of the boat in 75 feet of water. It was a drift dive in a medium current and the plan was to reach maximum depth, stay close to the coral wall, and let the water carry them along for a spectacular view of fish, turtles, corals, and sea sponges that would rival any iMax theater production. What they did not expect was that a pack of hungry reef sharks and bull sharks would surround them.
This group was the second set of divers to enter the water at this location. There was another group from another tour boat that had dropped onto the site a few minutes before them. The group was ahead for most of the dive and the two tours would not be interacting. But what the second group later learned was that the first group had been spearing lionfish, an approved and beneficial activity. The lionfish are an invasive species that breed quickly and devour small reef fish in massive quantities. Due to their venomous spines, they have no natural predators in the Atlantic Ocean and they are decimating reefs with their voracious appetites. The problem, however, was that the divers ahead were feeding the lionfish to the sharks. Doing so creates serious risks and encourages dangerous shark behavior.
These sharks are a mix of Caribbean reef sharks and bull sharks. The bull sharks in particular can be very unpredictable and swimming among them while their feeding response is triggered is dangerous. They are ranked by some experts as the third most aggressive of all the sharks. For the group ahead to be encouraging the sharks to interact with humans is very irresponsible. Some of the behavior of these sharks is caused by simple curiosity. The slow, steady circling of the divers is more about coming close enough for a look and a smell. It doesn't represent a threat. But other sharks are turning and moving more abruptly, and their fins are angled more downward. These are the beginning signs of agitation and even aggression. Sharks may be frustrated by the lack of food when they were expecting some. They may also be provoked by the presence of other sharks, making them more likely to bite a human out of a sense of competition with the other sharks. Once biting and aggression start, it is likely to escalate rapidly.
While in the ocean, responsible divers respect the animals and they recognize that improper behavior can have immediate and serious consequences. It is never advisable to try to attract sharks of any kind, especially bull sharks.