The question of is Shark Cage Diving safe is asked and often answered with "No one has ever gotten hurt on my watch".
Accidents do and can happen, it is for this reason that I choose to explain what is needed to be A Shark Diving Operator in South Africa.
In South Africa, SAMSA (The South African Maritime Safety Authority) is the traffic department of marine vessels. They make all the rules as to safety regulations. They come out to the vessel with a checklist to see if every rule has a blue tick before you get the green light. No vessel can go to sea without this being done first. As with the vessel, the cage is also required to adhere to SAMSA requirements.
Ok, so the boat is okay but not all boats are allowed to do the tourism thing, you need to apply for a permit and these are hard to obtain. As the industry leaders your safety is a priority to us. From the time you are collected from your hotel to the time we drop you off.
Other factors besides safety are taken into account, like these:
Our staff has their own set of qualifications under their belt too. There are years of experience and memories to make your day an unforgettable and educational experience. Like any sea-going vessel, there is rank involved. The Captain and the Dive Master, just to mention two have many sea-going hours logged before they can apply for these positions.
We have to have public liability insurance, in the event of any injury to a client.
The Operators are monitored by an individual harbour master to ensure that all are adhered to, such as:
A head count for every trip and safety measures, as well as general rules like age limitations. No dumping into the ocean happens, SAMSA is very strict on pollution and this is great.
That the animals at all times are not harmed for financial gain - Yes, we are tree huggers. Most importantly and a familiar question, diving outside the cage never happens in these areas.
Chumming is also very strictly monitored. We need to do this but it has to be only marine produce. Only a permit holder may use this method and only in the specified areas.
The law states, that if found guilty of any offence, a R300 000 fine could be issued, the permit revoked and there is also a two-year prison sentence that could be applied.
This isn't a Mickey Mouse operation. The Operator also has to invest back into the industry, time and social development. All in all, the operators we work with are professionals both working to ensure a safe experience for yourself and the marine life.