Many areas with large shark populations have found that live sharks will generally bring in more money than sharks hunted for food. Shark tourism is an increasingly popular type of ecotourism that involves tourists observing sharks without harming them. Tourists can observe sharks from a boat, or from the water. Relatively dangerous sharks, like great whites, are typically observed from shark cages, while other sharks can be observed while scuba diving.
Shark meat is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, and hunting these animals was once very popular. Areas with large shark populations, however, now appreciate that live sharks often bring in more from tourists than sharks that are hunted for meat. Shark tourism involves visitors observing the animals rather than hunting them.
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Several species of sharks are observed during this type of eco-friendly tourism, including whale, tiger, bull, nurse, and great white sharks. Some shark tourism companies may bait the sharks with chum, a mixture of blood and dead fish pieces. Many areas, however, have banned this practice, since chumming is believed to make sharks more aggressive.
The safest type of shark tourism involves observing sharks from a boat. During these trips, a tourism company will take tourists to an area with many sharks. Sometimes the sharks may be baited with decoy seals. Lucky tourists may get a glimpse of a shark breaching, or launching itself out of the water.
Cage diving is a popular type of great white shark tourism. Scuba gear is usually a necessity for these types of adventure tours. During these excursions, tourists are able to get into a shark cage that is lowered into the water. The top of this cage floats, and the bottom part is submerged in the water. Also, the metal used to construct these cages is very strong, and it can withstand being bitten or even rammed by a large shark.
More adventurous tourists can also choose to swim with sharks. To do this, tourists can either use scuba gear or snorkel equipment. Swimming with whale sharks, which are the largest and most docile sharks, is a very popular type of shark tourism. When diving in reefs, however, tourist may also get a chance to observe and interact with other sharks, including sand sharks, nurse sharks, and reef sharks. At times, more dangerous sharks, like great whites or hammerheads, may also swim up to divers during these underwater tours.