About 15 years ago, shark cage diving became a highly sought-after tourist activity, particularly in Gansbaai, South Africa. Gansbaai is home to Shark Alley, a stretch of ocean that is densely populated with Great White sharks. And, as a whole, the South African shark diving industry has become so popular, that it's now bringing in an estimated 30 million dollars a year.
RELATED: A Close Encounter With a Great White Shark
Normally it works like this: You're lowered just under the water's surface in a steel cage, then, crew members toss in some chum, a mixture of minced fish, fish oil, and seawater meant to attract predators. Within a few minutes you should see several Great Whites approach. If you wanted you could reach out and touch them, but it's not recommended.
Besides the fear that comes with cage diving, there is another more practical reason people are against this activity and the industry surrounding it. Some say the experience is inauthentic for the divers and the sharks alike. It disrupts the natural ecosystem. But what's perhaps most dangerous to us, is that, after a while, sharks begin to associate humans with food. Not the best combo. And beyond the association, chumming has been linked to more permanent changes in shark behavior.
But, not all agree it should be outlawed. Shark cage diving is currently highly debated in South Africa and around the world, with strong supporters on both sides.
Read more about shark cage diving:
Discovery News: Great White Shark Photobombs Friend
Huffington Post: Great White Shark Sticks Head in Diving Cage
The Telegraph: Shark Tourism Banned in Western Australia