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Cage Diving Shark Accident Shark Enters Cage Mexico

Follow Up Inside look at great white shark breach diving cage in Guadalupe Island last week.

The Shark, The Survivor, The New Released Video

For the past few weeks, the ever growing controversy regarding cage diving has reached crazy heights again after a video of great white shark breached a diving cage (see below) went viral. The incident took place on 4th October and new footage and a follow up story has since been release by the operator of the Gabe and Garrett YouTube page who captured the whole thing on camera. The boat was at a famous hot spot for great-white sharks off the coast of Mexico called Guadalupe, running a cage-diving trip.

What Actually Happened?

The video, filmed by a Solmar V passenger, shows a crew member drawing a large great white toward the cage using bait attached to a rope. The shark lunges for the bait, and then continues onward into the wall of the cage. According to a statement released by Solmar V, the shark hit one of the cage windows, causing the top part of the cage front to break. With nothing to stop its momentum, the shark ended up inside the cage.

In the video we see the crew look on in disbelief before promptly opening the cage roof’s escape hatch. Moments later amidst the trashing and the splashing, the great white shark emerged out of the top hatch and slammed back into the ocean, visibly bleeding from the gills. There was in fact a lone diver inside that cage at the time, Ming Chan. Just a moment after we saw the shark exit the cage, Ming appeared also and climbed out the very same hatch, thankfully unharmed. According to Solmar V, he escaped the cage through a lower hatch as soon as the shark broke into the cage. He then waited for the shark to free itself before re-entering and exiting the cage through the roof. He recounted his story to the New York Times here.
Shark Breaches Cage After Entering

Shark Breaches Cage After Entering

Internet Uproar

The video became viral across social networks and you-tube almost instantaneously, sparking online hysterics. Many media spinners framed the story as a tale of a man’s survival after an attack by an aggressive white shark. As a whole the cage diving industry received criticism in addition for putting people’s lives in danger. Chan, however, has since spoken out in support of Solmar V, naming the boat’s crew as his “heroes” in an online post and labeling his experience as life-affirming. Conservationists used it to condemn shark cage-diving and expressed anger on behalf of the shark, especially in light of its apparent injuries. Others were genuinely worried that the video might escalate the perception of great whites as man attacking killers, thereby undermining much-needed shark conservation efforts. The truth is we can’t be sure of the extent of the shark’s injury. I n an official statement, Solmar V claims that “the shark did not suffer any serious injuries,” and company mentions they saw the same shark the next day, apparently in good health. While the blood from the sharks gills shows us what can happen when cage diving goes wrong, on the positive site lets be thankful there wasn’t a lot more blood in that video, if you know what I mean.
Blood on Great Whites Gills After Cage Diving Accident

Blood on Great Whites Gills After Cage Diving Accident

What went wrong?

People cage-dive all over the world every day with the sharks safely remaining on the outside of the cage, so why was oct 4th and different? Let it be known firstly, every destination have their own methods and regulations. In Guadalupe, operators like Solmar V attached an alloy aluminium or stainless steel cage to the boat capable of holding 4 people. With the use of authorized bait, they lure the shark close enough for people to see. Although the code of conduct here is clear in stating the bait may not “touch the cage or pass over the top of the cage.” The rules also state that operators must remove the bait from the water if the white shark “approaches within 2m (6.5 feet) of the vessel” in order to prevent collision with the cage. The bait line must not be shorter than 12 m (40 feet).

"Is somebody in the cage? Somebody's in the cage"
Staring At Empty Cage After Sharks Escapes.. But Where's The Diver?

Staring At Empty Cage After Sharks Escapes.. But Where's The Diver?

The Great Escape!

It seems likely that the incident was an unfortunate accident. The shark likely misjudged its proximity to the cage, perhaps due to a protective layer known as a nictitating membrane that rolls over their eyes when they bite rendering them temporarily blind. However it happened ultimately power of its forward momentum saw it land inside the cage. From this point the white shark could only thrash around attempting to escape, as great whites can’t swim backwards, whilst Mr Chan could only wait. Reports state he managed his great escape by slipping out of cage when the shark entered before re-entering after his "dive buddy' had left. It not believed the shark was maliciously attacking the cage, as some have suggested, the white shark was simply following through on instincts awakened by the bait in the water. Solmar V’s official statement claims that “shark breaches of this magnitude are a one-in-a-million-occurrence.”
Diver Escapes Shark Inside Cage Diving Mexico

Ming Safely Aboard After Escaping Shark Inside Cage

Other cage breaches have occurred (both in Guadalupe and elsewhere), suggesting that this isn’t a completely isolated incident. Solmar V has already taken precautions to ensure that the events of October 4th do not happen again. They’ve both reinforced their cages and extended the no-bait zone around the vessel. People are asking if Solmar V crew violated any of the area’s cage-diving regulations during this incident. While regulations allow baiting, some commentators seem to believe that the bait was not thrown in at the stipulated angle of “45 degrees from the cage to the outside of the boat,” therefore bringing the shark too close to the cage. Nevertheless, Solmar V is a well-respected company, with an injury-free record since the start of the Guadalupe shark diving industry in 2004.

Should we ban all cage diving?

Some anti-cage-diving shark conservationists are passionately claiming baiting wild sharks puts both people and sharks at risk. It’s known for a fact, baiting affects the sharks’ natural behaviour causing them to stray to areas that they wouldn’t naturally. This leads to increasing chances of shark-human contact as well as altering the balance of the surrounding ecosystem.
On the other hand, like in this new video released about the incident, you may view cage-diving as supporting shark conservation in ways of allowing people to experience sharks firsthand. Allowing experience and affiliation to sharks first hand debunks myths extended by movies like Jaws and The Shallows. Whatever your view, it remains to be seen whether cage diving helps people to begin to understand sharks and value them as key ocean predators or not. With more and more movies preying on, for the most part, unfounded facts about shark attacks, this change of perspective is particularly important for the great white sharks. This reputation and man hunting killers has led to such an extent that populations have declined dramatically all over the world, with over 100 million sharks losing their lives each year.

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Andrew Jennings
Andrew Jennings
You host and creator of underwater clicks.