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How Diving with Sharks Works

Open-water Diving with Sharks
Open-water diving allows you to get up close and personal with different species of sharks.
Open-water diving allows you to get up close and personal with different species of sharks.

The most extreme form of diving with sharks is to go all out and literally swim with them in their natural habitat. No cages, no safety link to the boat, just you and the sharks in the wide open ocean. At the moment, there are only a few places on Earth that will allow you to view sharks without a cage, but you may find it to be an experience that's well worth the trip.

Unlike cage diving, you can't just dive right in; there are some steps that you must take in order to be deemed fit to swim with one of nature's most feared predators. First off, you have to be Advanced Open Water certified, which is a higher level scuba diving certification. Basically, you have to prove that you can handle yourself in the open water as a diver [source: Shark Diving International]. That being the case, you will need all the equipment that a scuba diver would require -- wetsuit, air regulator, air tank -- and perhaps a stick or blunt object to stun the beast, just in case. Open water diving is a safe activity, but it is always important to remember that sharks are wild animals and can be unpredictable.

That being said, how should you behave in an open-water dive? The best thing to remember is that you are a guest in the shark's home. Therefore, let the shark swim to you instead of chasing him around. Also, be as close to the bottom as you can and remain upright. Being low in the water tells the shark that you aren't of great concern, and sharks are typically less threatened by taller, vertical beings than long, flat ones. Also, it is important to remain in sight of the other divers, but do separate yourselves somewhat. Sharks seem to become more nervous around pods of divers than several individual people [source: Martin].

Finally, enjoy yourself! You are sharing the home of one of the most majestic creatures on the planet. Sharks are naturally curious and will be happy to check out the newcomers. Having them so close will give you a chance to see sharks in a new way and will almost certainly change your perspective on how they live.

Are you ready to jump in and hang out with some of these amazing animals? Read on to discover the best spots to dive with sharks.