Do’s and Don’ts when diving with sharks

Do’s and Don’ts when diving with sharks

Diving with sharks is an exhilarating experience that can’t afford to be missed by any experienced diver. However it is crucial to dive safely and with a reputable dive center with professional instructors. Here are our top tips when diving with sharks to ensure a safe and unforgettable experience.

 1 Safety in numbers 

It is always recommended to dive in a group because sharks usually target individuals alone. While in a group it's best to keep space between each other so that the shark does not feel threatened and attack.

 2 Watch what you wear 

Interestingly sharks have a favorite color! Sharks are thought to be color blind but they are able to see contrasts in color. For this reason it’s best to avoid brightly colored clothes or diving equipment, especially yellow.  This is why yellow has been named the ‘yum yum’ color! Of course it’s also important to have all the right equipment when diving including a mask and fins. 

 3 Avoid mammals 

Other sea animals, although marvelous, can put a diver at risk while sharks are about. Sharks can often mistake divers surrounded by other mammals as their natural prey. It is best to calmly leave the water if you are with other marine life when a shark approaches. 

 4 Time of your dive 

Time of day is crucial when diving as it's best to avoid diving with sharks at dusk or dawn. Sharks are crepuscular which means they often hunt during dusk and dawn. Shark behavior becomes more aggressive at these times so it’s best to avoid diving at these times. 

5 Which shark 

Make sure you have a good understanding of the potential species of shark you might be dealing with under the water. All species behave differently and all pose different levels of threats. Sharks such as whale sharks are harmless to humans whereas tiger sharks eat pretty much anything and become aggressive when they feel threatened. Also remember that the fact that a species of shark will not eat you does not mean that it won’t bite you.

6 Locations 

It is always best to swim back to the reef wall at the end of a dive.  Don’t go so far from the reef wall when diving around sharks as it’s safer to be able to get back to the reef quickly.

7 Flash on or off?

It is best to never follow sharks and snap pictures of them especially if it seems to be swimming in a strange way. Avoid using a flashgun in the water while watching them feed as the sound it makes while recharging attracts them. 

8 Know when to abort

If you feel nervous while on a dive or the sharks are taking an interest in you don’t be afraid to abort your dive. Try not to splash a lot or make a lot of noise while exiting. Swim calmly and always have a boat nearby.


9 Keep a lookout 

When sharks appear and then quickly disappear from your view this does not mean that they have gone. Keep your eyes focused as sharks often stalk their prey from afar and quickly re appear. This is especially true of tiger sharks. 

10. Don’t panic 

It’s important not to panic when you see a shark during a dive. Sharks are fantastic at reading chemical imbalances and can identify sound vibrations.  It is in their instinct to use these strategies to hunt. When you panic the heart rate, body temperature and adrenaline levels increase, this can trigger a response in the shark.  Excessive movement of the legs and arms can also cause the shark to become defensive and attack. 

11 Diver position in the water 

Remaining horizontal while diving is usually the goal, however when dealing with aggressive sharks it’s recommended to make yourself vertical. This makes you seem bigger in the water. The shark does not expect this and may become wary or hesitant to continue its pursuit of you. 

There is a common belief that sharks are more likely to target swimmers and there is evidence to suggest this. It is best not to swim to the surface when diving with sharks. Once at the surface your movements become limited and it can make you more vulnerable to an attack.  If you are trying to retreat it's best to reach the surface close to the boat and preferably as a group as this is far safer. 

12 Your behavior 

It’s important to remember that we are guests in the ocean. We are entering the sharks’ home and so we should respect all the sea life particularly sharks.  Never ‘eyeball’ a shark or flash your camera in its face and never chase a shark. Sharks are natural predators and will attack if they feel threatened. Use a reputable dive company as some companies practice dangerous habits to attract sharks. Crushing bottles to create sounds and vibrations is a risky behavior as it can stimulate feeding behavior in sharks. Humming and making unnecessary noise in the water is also not recommended.  It should also be noted that you should never feed sharks. Move slowly and steadily in the water and stay close to the reef wall or sea bed to avoid leaving yourself exposed. It is also suggested that divers avoid swimming backwards around sharks as the position can leave you vulnerable. 

Don’t become too distracted while in the water. Remember your buddy system and keep an eye on your gas consumption and depth. All diving rules still apply.

It also goes without saying that you should keep your distance and never touch a shark!

13 Shark behaviors

Typically sharks swim in a calm manner any changes in this behavior are clear signs that you should calmly distance yourself from the shark. Oceanic Whitetip sharks are particularly curious of humans so may come close.  If a shark starts to make sudden movements, bursts of speed or rapid movement of its tail it may be feeling threatened or challenged. Some species of shark arch their back or move their head or tail side to side to give a warning. Their pectoral fins may turn vertically and some even shiver, this should signal to all divers that the shark is on the brink of attack. 


Diving with sharks is a wonderful experience and a privilege for any diver.  There is a common misconception encouraged by the media and movies that sharks are evil killing machines. In truth the number of shark attacks on humans is tiny and the number of unprovoked attacks is even smaller. Be respectful while diving with these incredible creatures as the sea is their home not ours! You can minimize your risk by following the guidelines.

What should you do in an emergency? 

In extraordinarily rare situations where a shark has taken hold of a diver the best advice is to fight back. This really isn’t a common situation but should you or another diver get attacked by a shark the best course of action is to strike the eyes or gills as these are the most sensitive areas on a shark. This should only be done in emergency cases. If a shark bumps you or gets too close , do not attack it. 

Are you interested?

In order to dive around sharks you must have an Advanced Open Water Certificate. This is proof that you can handle yourself in the open water. Blue Ocean offers these courses and more specialized courses. Remember diving with sharks is a great experience so enjoy it! You will get the chance to see sharks in an entirely new way and in their natural home. Sharks are habitual creatures so will visit the same areas every year. At Blue Ocean we offer safe diving with sharks during the season and our dive instructors are equipped to make your experience incredible and safe.