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Shark Diving

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New forms of life are being discovered every day. The depths of the ocean possess innumerable wonders and an endless array of fantastical creatures. The finest science fiction writer could never dream up the life forms that exist beneath the gentle swells of the deep blue sea.

Even those marine creatures with which we are familiar exude an aura of mystery, danger, and delight. Though mankind believes himself to be the expert on every subject, there are certain animals that elude even the most diligent of scientists. These animals display behavior that is at once surprising and familiar. One shining example of the delicate balance of beauty and raw power existing beneath the ocean's surface is the shark.

The shark is the top of the ocean food chain. Superiority and dominance over lesser creatures are a few of the shark's attributes that humans both admire and fear. In fact, we use the world "shark" in our vernacular to mean one who is cunning, stealthy, and attacks with no warning or mercy. In reality, these are characteristics that humans have misunderstood in sharks, over the years, due to our lack of knowledge about their behavioral patterns.

Diving with Sharks
For both lovers of the ocean and thrill seekers looking to conquer a new fear, the option of shark diving is a popular one. Great white sharks, in particular, are one of the most enticing shark species, and there are many companies who offer the chance to come face to face with this powerful predator. In the western hemisphere alone, there are at least three well-known areas where great white sharks can be observed. Two of these areas are off the coast of California and the third is about a one-day ocean journey west of Ecuador. Each of these dive sites boasts particular attractions for the shark diver, novice or otherwise.

The Farallon Islands are a popular feeding ground for sharks in the fall months. Sharks visit this area each year because it is also a heavily populated breeding ground for many marine mammals. The sharks are not the only visitors to these islands, however, as large numbers of marine enthusiasts come to catch a glimpse of the action. Many companies offer cage dives in this area and divers have been known to witness the thrill of a live killing. The waters are rather chilly, and it is recommended that divers in this area use heavily insulated wetsuits.

By stark contrast, Isla De Guadalupe, one of the newly discovered great white observation areas, is located in warm waters, and the sharks here are typically more gentle. Cage divers will see the sharks moving in slower motion since there is not the feeding-frenzied atmosphere found at the Farallon Islands. The visibility at Isla De Guadalupe is almost always excellent, which makes for great photographs.

The third, and some may argue the best area for shark diving is around the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are known for the incredible array of wildlife that live upon the many islets. Shark divers are particularly interested in this location due to the sightings of whale sharks in the area. The whale shark is one of the most rare species of shark and is a favorite among shark divers.

Sustaining the Shark Population
There has been a sharp decline in shark populations over the past few years. The large number of shark deaths are generally linked to the commercial fishing industry, as well as the thriving shark meat industry. There are many global organizations and companies that exist to support shark research and educate the public about the importance of sharks in maintaining the ocean's environmental balance. For more information, most of these companies can be found easily on the Internet.

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