The 2016 season of white shark cage diving off Guadalupe Island, Mexico, captured global attention and headlines when three separate worst-case scenarios were documented of white sharks breaching the openings in dive cages. “Though encounters like these are rare,” says Rick MacPherson, marine biologist, conservationist, and founder of Sustainable Shark Diving, “the unfortunate reality is that every negative interaction with a shark greatly impacts the public’s perception of these animals.” MacPherson thinks that the shark dive tourism industry should be doing everything they can to put in place best practices that are rigorously adhered to and that minimize risk to both divers as well as sharks.”
These and related topics will be explored by MacPherson during a timely DEMA-sponsored education workshop (The Current State of Shark Dive Tourism: the good, the bad, & the future) at the 2016 DEMA Show in Las Vegas Nevada.
The shark dive tourism niche is big business within the diving community, and there is no sign of the trend slowing down for this rapidly growing segment of adventure tourism. The popularity and growth of shark dive tourism over the past decade is undeniable. Divers increasingly want to see sharks and are willing to pay well to have close encounters with these charismatic species. For a critically threatened group such as sharks, this is good news to MacPherson: “Over 100 million sharks die each year due to interactions with fisheries, “ he reports. “Shark diving provides an opportunity for the public to shift their perceptions of sharks from mindless monsters to charismatic wildlife.” New shark dive operations appear each year, yet until recently, neither a standarized best practice nor system for evaluating business performance has emerged.
During the DEMA-sponsored workshop, MacPherson will review the current status of shark dive tourism as well as what the future holds for the industry. Attendees should expect to:
- Gain an understanding of the breadth, diversity, and growth potential of shark/ray tourism globally;
- Understand what divers are looking for in a shark dive experience;
- Access the most current best practices for operators interested in offering shark dive tours; and,
- Become familiar with sustainablesharkdiving.com, the world’s first “TripAdvisor” for shark diving as well as other emerging tools for building shark dive sustainability.
The session will be open to all DEMA Show attendees on Saturday, November 19, 2016: 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM, in Room: S231 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.