Responsible Shark And Ray Tourism


Does diving with sharks and rays affect their behaviour?

Shark and ray tourism generates hundreds of millions of dollars globally each year and, says WWF, it is growing substantially.

Businesses around the world provide a variety of activities that allow people to get close to sharks and rays, ranging from boat-based spotting to guided snorkelling, cage viewing experiences and scuba diving. If current trends continue, the numbers of shark related tourism could more than double over the next twenty years. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for the sharks?

Research published this month by American scientists finds that scuba divers can repeatedly interact with reef sharks without affecting the behaviour of the shark in the long term. Well-regulated shark diving tourism can be accomplished without undermining conservation goals.

The researchers – Darcy Bradley, Yannis Papastamatiou and Jennifer Caselle – didn’t detect differences in reef shark abundance or behaviour between heavily dived and undived locations, neither were there differences in shark residency patterns at dived and undived sites in a year with substantial diving activity and a year without any diving.

So, how can divers and dive operators ensure that they dive with sharks responsibly? The WWF, Project Aware and the Manta Trust have produced a Guide to shark and ray tourism.
Guide to Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism

Advice from the Guide to Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism to Dive Operators

  1. Operate a code of conduct to reduce pollution from vessels, discarded waste and plastics, physical and chemical damage such as boat strikes, breaking off coral and damage from sunscreen.
  2. Avoid touching the animals or altering their habitat which could ultimately damage the resources upon which the tourism businesses are based.
  3. Think several times before feeding or “provisioning” sharks. Provisioning may lead to animals ‘begging’ from tourists, and becoming aggressive if they aren’t satisfied. Studies are finding that long-term provisioning of populations of sharks and rays can have physiological and other impacts, which is why a precautionary approach is important.
  4. Proactively support conservation of the habitats and species on which your business depends. Marine protected areas (MPAs), which limit or restrict activities that affect marine life within a defined area, are one
    widely adopted conservation tool. In Palau, shark diving within the MPA is popular because the white tip and grey reef sharks are predictable, relatively numerous, and spend most of their lives in the one area
  5. Customers want the best experience they can get, so it’s important staff training goes beyond safety and customer service. Staff should receive a comprehensive induction into the business; and this should be followed by regular training and updates on the latest science, management practices, conservation and regulatory issues.
  6. Use eco-accreditation, such as that from Green Fins,

You can take a self-assessment survey to see how you score as a dive operator. The guide also provides a suite of free, practical, downloadable tools that can be used by operators, NGOs, local communities and resource managers.

Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism – A Guide to Best Practice. WWF, Project Aware, Manta Trust 2017.

Netrani Island – Locals Protest Tourist Scuba Divers

Netrani Island is a small island off the southwest coast of India.  The locals don’t seem to be keen on letting tourists go scuba diving around their island.  See article…


Bhatkallys News Service/ Rizwan Gangavali

Murdeshwar 12 February 2017: Local fishermen today protested against few foreign scuba divers who were in the coastal town as tourists and were pretty interested in scuba diving near Netrani Island.

As per the reports around 15 foreign tourists were in talks with local boat agents for scuba diving at Netrani Island, when a group of local people came together and blocked their way, demanding the termination of their plans of scuba diving.

Local police, MLA Mankal Vaidya, Panchayath member Albert Dcosta rushed to the scene and were quick to take over the situation.

Local people protested in support of the fishermen as they claimed their fishing boats often roam around the Netrani island for fishing and the divers scare the fishes away resulting in the loss of fishermen.

MLA Mankal Vaidya dealt with protestors and assured them of taking up the issue with higher authorities and requested protestors to respect the tourist and give up the protest for now as it will have an bad impression on them about the Nation. After which the tourists were let to have a go at scuba diving




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