Shark attacks have spiked in the last couple of years.
However, the fact remains that you’re still most likely to get hit by a drunk diver than be attacked by a shark.
Far too many of us are afraid of sharks. That’s why we don’t even consider diving somewhere we know we’ll encounter one. For Matthew Karsten however, shark diving without a cage is his passion. In fact, being surrounded by countless Black Tips, Bull Sharks, Ragged Tooth, Hammerheads is what gives him life.
We’ve stumbled upon his recent dive in Prote Banks, South Africa and here’s what his experience was like.
He makes sense of our “fears”
Perhaps we can blame Hollywood for it but Karsten helps us make sense of our alleged fear and tells us that it’s more primal than rational.
“Our fears are not always rational — more often they’re primal. Based on emotion rather than facts,” he says. “For most people, fear is something they avoid at all costs. For others, it’s what drives them. I consider myself the latter. It’s a personality trait known as sensation seeking — someone who thrives on adventure, risks, and sensory overload.
He wants us to understand sharks
“Sharks are powerful, agile creatures. Capable of both extreme violence and incredible elegance. Attacks on humans are exceedingly rare, despite all the negative media attention they receive,” he explains. He goes on to say that sharks are surprisingly afraid of us.
“As our group first descended under the waves at Protea Banks, we actually scared off a large tiger shark. Tigers are responsible for the 2nd highest number of attacks on humans. Yet this one wanted nothing to do with us.”
He asks us to help conserve sharks
Sharks are often misunderstood. Karsten calls on to us to understand that sharks aren’t always to be feared but to be respected and conserved.
“Sharks are beautiful, marvelous creatures. Unfortunately they are getting killed off at an alarming rate. Millions of sharks are fished out of our oceans annually. No wonder they’re afraid of us,” he writes.
“So when you hear about “attacks” like the recent one at a Jeffreys Bay surf competition, understand that it’s us attacking their territory. We don’t own the oceans, yet we seem to be killing everything in them. Including sharks.”
image source: expertvagabond.com