I read a blog post on one of National Geographic’s websites today that really bothered me. It was written back in November 2013, entitled “Why I Won’t Go Shark Cage Diving” The guy who wrote it was really against cage diving and there is nothing wrong with that. My problem with the blog, was the guy was slamming the industry and the operators, calling it bad conservation and that cage diving was unsustainable. The worst part was that he has never participated in the activity. So he wrote a blog about something he knows nothing about.
Look I understand that people have a problem with organized shark dives and cage diving activities, especially when there is bait involved. but to slam the industry without knowing the facts, because of your personal opinions and on a high profile website like Geo’s, is just not cool. Here are a couple of things that stood out for me;
FROM THE NG BLOG…”At National Geographic Travel, we take great pride in our dedication to authentic, sustainable tourism that leaves a positive footprint on a destination. In my opinion, shark cage diving fails to meet that standard on every front. …In its current form, shark cage diving is not sustainable”
The shark cage operators from Gansbaai have been showing people sharks for over 20 years. The entire community benefits from this form of eco-tourism; restaurants, taxi services, hotels, tourist shops, etc…all benefit from the shark cage diving industry.How is this not sustainable? I know its not perfect, but it works.
FROM THE NG BLOG… “shark cage diving does little to stop the biggest threats against sharks today. Shark cage diving has not ended the Asian market for shark fin soup, or countered overfishing, or preserved ocean habitats, or passed legislation to ban the killing of specific species of sharks. …In my opinion, shark cage diving makes a mockery of real conservation efforts to preserve an animal that is in rapid decline.”
White sharks have enjoyed protection in SA waters for over 20 years, (other than the nets and illegal fishing). In fact South Africa was the first country to protect white sharks, back in 1991, due in large part to the shark cage tourism industry. The SA government had the foresight to see that white sharks were worth finacially saving and have continued their support of white shark conservation to this day. Also, because the whites have been protected, they continue to keep the seal populations around False Bay in check. So those waters have remained in balance, preserving the “ocean habitat.” I don’t know if this constitutes as real conservation efforts? but it sounds pretty freaking good to me. I mean it’s not perfect, but again, it works.
The bottom line is the writer of the Nat Geo blog painted a shitty picture of the shark cage diving industry in Gansbaai. His opinions were just damaging to the industry and just not true. Look I understand that organized shark feeds and shark cage diving is not for everyone, but these are still solid platforms for good shark conservation efforts. In my opinion showing people sharks is a positive thing for sharks and communities benefit from eco-tourism. So the next time you travel to a new place Nat Geo Blogger, at least try and experience the activity your writing about. Who knows, you may find out for yourself that it is not perfect…but hey, it works.