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How Diving with Sharks Works

Cage Diving with Sharks

The most common method of diving with sharks is cage diving. This method is by far the safest, yet it still allows divers to get up close and personal with the sharks. The cage, which is attached to a boat, is typically a rectangle and fits about four divers at a time. Once in the water, divers have a largely unobstructed view of the sharks as they swim within feet of the cage.

What will you need if you want to cage dive with sharks? A healthy grip on your fear, for one. After that, you only need the basic equipment to snorkel or scuba dive, such as a wetsuit, a snorkel, a weight belt to keep you underwater, and scuba gear if you are a certified scuba diver. Instead of snorkeling gear, the boat might have its own "hookah style" air system that pumps air directly to you through a long hose from an air compressor on the boat [source: Alaska Mining and Diving Supply]. This method means that you don't need a tank in the water but can still be fully submerged to get the best view. The company that charters the trip should have most, if not all, of the equipment you will need. You'll learn more about the various companies and costs later.

So, now you're in the cage and underwater. How do you know that sharks will appear? Again, the shark diving company will have you covered by trailing chum from the boat as you reach your anchor spot. Chum is a mixture of fish blood, oils and parts. It creates a bloody soup that smells delicious to all discerning sharks in the nearby area. Sharks, with their extremely keen sense of smell, will follow the chum trail to the boat. Once there, they will find bait that will hold their attention long enough for you to enjoy them. In most parts of the world, it's illegal to actually feed the sharks, so the bait is typically frozen fish encased in a box held off the back of the boat. This box gives off a wonderful aroma for the sharks, but keeps them from actually eating the fish [source: Shark Savers].

Once the sharks have arrived, the diver is free to watch them circle the boat from the safety of the cage. A typical dive will last about 20 to 30 minutes and give the diver plenty of chances to take pictures and marvel at the mighty creatures.

Now, if you're the type that sees a cage between you and the sharks as too much of a barrier, then read on for an all-access pass to the sharks: free diving.