It’s a Touchy Feelly Thing! 

To Touch Sharks…or not, to touch sharks? with Eli Martinez


Ok I have been in the Shark Diving business a long time and I have seen this argument pop up, over and over again — Touch…don’t touch? There are many people that are against it and there are many people who are for it. No point asking where I stand, everyone knows I am pro touch. So this blog will be totally biased I know, but I don’t care, I can’t help the way I feel, it’s just a touchy-feelly thing!

Look, I have no problem with touching sharks and I do not have any problem with other people touching sharks. The way I see it, if a shark allows you to touch it, then it is ok. And YES, sharks allow it, I have been around them for many years, up close and personal - with countless sharks and I know, when a shark does not want you to touch it, you sure as hell are not going to touch it. They are very self aware and will simply just glide away from touching distance. And the ones that don’t get away from your mitts, will recoil from your touch or will bolt in fear because they did not want to be touched. Of course pick and choose what species you touch, because believe me, you don’t want to be the asshole that touches the mako or blue shark (after hours of chumming) and sends it running, never to return. The looks you get on the boat from everyone else when that happens, are painful.

Oh and just an FYI, my thoughts on touching of sharks does not include riding sharks, which I am totally against. I just think riding sharks is disrespectful to the animals and I am personally not a fan.

And I know a few people and researchers out there will think I am being wreckless for putting out a blog like this, promoting the touching of sharks, but I don’t feel I am. Because again, sharks self regulate and will either allow the interaction, or they won’t, regardless of bait being present. It is that simple and pure. Of course there are ways of interacting with sharks to do it safely and I don’t recommend anyone touching a shark unless you have had training or been under the guidance of a professional Shark Diver that will share with you the best way to safely do it. Because diving with sharks is all about rules, break the rules and you will pay the price.

So for all you touchy feelly kind of Shark Divers out there, like me, it all boils down to where you go, who you go with and what the rules of interaction are. Because there are some magical places out there where it is 100% no touching the wildlife, and you have to respect those rules. But there are a few places where if that shark cruises by within touching distance. Well, you know - you just can’t help yourself…and you just got to touch it!

For the rest of you who don’t like to touch sharks, well mad respect for having that restraint, because I know I sure as hell don’t. I honestly don’t know how you do it? I am sure you feel the same way as I do about sharks, of course in your own way… as for me, I love everything about them, love interacting with them, love being around them and I am always hoping that shark will come in close, because you know… it’s just that touchy-feelly thing!