Shark cage diving
A new association is being set up to monitor operators who run shark cage diving in Cornwall. Since 2005 locals and visitors have been able to go cage diving with blue sharks. It's hoped it'll ensure high standards in this new type eco-tourism.
Blue shark cage diving first started in Cornwall in 2005. It was set up by Richard Peirce, who is an acknowledged expert on sharks.
In 2006 he set up Shark Cornwall to promote shark eco-tourism in Cornwall and the rest of the UK and to increase public awareness of sharks in British waters.
Richard says: "We're very keen that people who are going to do this should learn how to do it from somewhere. There is only two ways to get involved in something new. One is trial and error and the other is by having someone tell you how to do it. Trial and error is a very dangerous thing to do in a game like this."
Newquay based skipper Chris Lowe.
Richard, who is also the chairman of The Shark Trust, says the cages are more dangerous than the sharks.
He says: "Unless you have previous experience of how cage diving works and by that I mean that you've been on the water, in the water and seen it all happening you can't know what the pitfalls all. It is too late to find out those pitfalls when someone has broken a leg or an arm."
Richard has now set up the Cornwall Cage Diving Operators Association. Members will have to sign up to a code of conduct, and will have had to demonstrate previous on the water practical experience of cage diving operating.
One skipper who has already signed up is Chris Lowe from Newquay-based Atlantic Diver. He used to offer shark fishing but felt it wasn't the future, and now offers shark cage diving instead.
Ben Marshall who has been cage diving.
He says: "We spent a few days with Richard last year. He was showing us the correct way to chum the water, how to present the cage and how to behave while the sharks are around. It's proved invaluable for us."
Shark expert Ben Marshall, from the Blue Reef Aquarium has been blue shark cage diving off the North coast of Cornwall
He says: "They're so graceful, so peaceful and you can see that they have clear intent which is not to eat us. They are just going about their business. It is a great privilege to be able to see them in their natural environment. It was a really, really great occasion."
There are at least thirty species of shark in British waters. The International Union for Conservation of Nature states that more than fifty per cent of British sharks are endangered.
last updated: 06/08/2009 at 12:19
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