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## What to Do When Approached by a Shark While Scuba Diving

**Introduction**

Scuba diving is an incredible experience that allows us to explore the wonders of the underwater world. However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks, including encounters with sharks. While shark attacks are relatively rare, it’s crucial to know what to do if you are approached by one while scuba diving.

**Understanding Shark Behavior**

Sharks are generally curious creatures but are not inherently aggressive towards humans. They may approach divers for various reasons, such as:

* **Curiosity:** Sharks are naturally curious and may approach divers to investigate their presence.
* **Mistaken identity:** Sharks may mistake divers for prey, especially if they are wearing dark or shiny gear.
* **Food association:** Sharks may associate divers with food if they have been fed by humans in the past.
* **Territorial defense:** Some shark species may become territorial and approach divers if they feel threatened.

**How to Respond**

If a shark approaches you while scuba diving, it’s essential to remain calm and avoid panic. Follow these steps:

**1. Stay Still and Calm:**

* Resist the urge to swim away or make sudden movements.
* Stay as still as possible and maintain eye contact with the shark.
* Do not splash or wave your arms as this could be interpreted as aggression.

**2. Observe the Shark’s Behavior:**

* Note the shark’s size, species, and behavior.
* Is it curious, aggressive, or defensive?
* Determine the direction it is swimming and its distance from you.

**3. Communicate with Nonverbal Cues:**

* Make yourself as large as possible by spreading your arms and legs.
* Use your body to block the shark’s path.
* Tap the shark’s nose or side with your hand or dive knife if it continues to approach.

**4. Use a Distraction:**

* If the shark persists, try to distract it by creating a noise or using a device such as a strobe light.
* Blow bubbles, bang on your tank, or whistle to startle the shark.
* Consider sacrificing a non-essential piece of gear, such as a camera or flashlight, as a diversion.

**5. Withdraw Slowly:**

* Once the shark has lost interest or moved away, begin to withdraw slowly and calmly.
* Continue to observe the shark as you move.
* Do not turn your back to it or make sudden movements.

**6. Report the Encounter:**

* After the encounter, report the incident to the divemaster or boat captain.
* Provide as much detail as possible, including the shark’s size, species, behavior, and location.
* This information can help researchers understand shark behavior and mitigate future encounters.

**Prevention Tips**

To reduce the risk of shark encounters, consider the following tips:

* Avoid diving in areas with known large shark populations.
* Be aware of your surroundings and avoid areas where sharks have been sighted.
* Dive with a buddy and stay close together.
* Do not wear shiny or brightly colored gear.
* Do not feed sharks or interact with them in any way.
* Respect the natural behavior of sharks and give them plenty of space.

**Conclusion**

Remember, scuba diving with sharks can be an unforgettable experience if you approach it with safety and respect. By understanding shark behavior and following these guidelines, you can minimize the risk of an encounter and enjoy the wonders of the underwater world safely and responsibly.

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