Diving with Sand Tiger Sharks
By: Aziz Khan (Instructor # 32270)
Of all the shark species I have encountered, the one I have enjoyed diving with the most is the sand tiger.
It is also known as “ragged tooth” because of the sharp, pointy teeth that are always on display. It eats its siblings in its mother’s womb prior to birth and some media has ranked the sand tiger as the seventh deadliest shark in the world.
But anyone who dives repeatedly with the sand tigers would have a hard time accepting this classification. Seventh deadliest? Since shark attacks on humans are rather rare, and when they do happen, are mostly attributed to the bull shark, tiger shark and the great white, if you are seventh deadliest then the actual threat level is extremely low. Imagine being classified as the seventh deadliest dog in the world! Chihuahuas make it.
I have found the sand tigers to be the single most camera-friendly shark species in the world.
There are scientific reasons behind why this particular one is such a poser for your GoPro camera. Sharks are normally negatively buoyant and must constantly swim in order to stay afloat. If you have tried to photograph a bull shark or an oceanic white tip then you must have noticed that they do not stay still in one place. They are hyper-energetic, jerky and unpredictable, and would not allow you to come close. The moment you move towards them, they immediately turn and bolt away. Getting a good picture or video will require a number of dives to be made and that moment of opportunity that may never present itself even if the shark is there.
Sand tigers? Not at all. This is the only shark species that can achieve neutral buoyancy. It has the ability to take in a certain amount of air and vent it out to the point where it is perfectly neutral in the water column. One of the most majestic sights you will ever see in the ocean is a sand tiger suspended motionless in the water column as no others can pull this stunt off.
Now imagine a scene where you come across not one but countless sharks, just suspended and holding still! It would be a totally surreal underwater moment and something you have to experience firsthand as no words can describe it. I have had the pleasure of swimming through what seemed like a shark stampede frozen in time.
There are two places in the world well known for giving divers such a breathtaking underwater experience. Protea Banks in South Africa and the coast of North Carolina.