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No white fins on a shark dive??

Discussion in 'Bahamas' started by bkotheimer, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. bkotheimer

    bkotheimer Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern CA
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    One of the popular liveaboards in the Bahamas -- the Shearwater, I believe -- does not allow white gear (fins, etc.) on their shark dives. Is this a common thing, or is it unique to that operation? I'm hoping to book a trip next year (probably Blackbeard's) and I'd hate to leave my white Mantaray fins at home.
     
  2. SharkSafaris

    SharkSafaris Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: Southern Africa
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    It sometimes makes the shark dives just a little bit more interesting to wear high-contrast colored dive gear such as e.g. white, silver or yum-yum yellow ;-)
     
  3. bkotheimer

    bkotheimer Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern CA
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    Okay, I guess I should've done a simple search before posting this question here. Yeah, I'm seeing a few things out on the web about this now. I guess I never really thought about sharks being attracted to high contrast patterns. Out here in CA, we always just worry about a great white taking a bite out of us when we're on the surface because our shape from below, not our - um - contrast ratio (?) resembles a sea lion.

    It sucks because I just got rid of my old fins, I love my white APS fins and I certainly don't want to buy a set of fins for a single dive trip. Guess I'll drag out my old Body Glove snorkeling fins. How dorky is that?
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  4. ClarkKent

    ClarkKent Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Vancouver B.C. Canada
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    Duct tape + spray paint /shrug
     
  5. bkotheimer

    bkotheimer Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern CA
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    Since I posted this last Summer....

    1. I posted this same topic to Wetpixel since many photogs have a fondness for white fins. I got responses ranging from (paraphrased), "I would NEVER wear white fins around sharks" to "I wear white/yellow fins around sharks all the time and they're never interested" to "maybe only tiger sharks will try to eat your white/yellow fins."

    2. I signed up for a Blackbeard's cruise out of Nassau for May 2011 and spoke to one of their reps at DEMA. He said no problem on wearing white fins (or any other white gear) on any of their dives, including the one weekly shark-feeding dive that they have.

    3. I watched a number of Bahamas dive videos showing happy divers in white and yellow fins surrounded by disinterested sharks. Apparently they get random sharks on nearly every dive, not just when they break out the big chumsicle, but nobody's feet are getting munched on.

    4. Another study came out recently suggesting that sharks are colorblind. However, the article/study also reinforces the importance of high contrast in the absence of color information, which you do get when you wear white fins with a black wetsuit.

    5. Finally, Jim Abernethy -- himself an operator who does not allow white gear on his dives -- got bitten during a feeding dive. No report on what he was wearing.

    So in general, I get very mixed answers. Some folks think it makes no difference, and some just say they wouldn't chance it. Still others swim with sharks in high-contrast gear and don't think twice about it. In fact, one diver brought up a point I hadn't thought about before.... many tanks are white. Come to think of it, even a silver tank might look a lot like a tasty meal according to the "high contrast" theory.

    Obviously, I'm not obsessed with this topic just because I don't want to rent/borrow/buy a set of black fins for a single dive trip. I think it's that I just can't stand to get so much conflicting information.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011
  6. diversteve

    diversteve always tired

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location:
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    Jim was bitten on the arm.

    I think this is only a concern with tigers and other big sharks. IDT their vision is all that good. Most sharks I've seen hunt by sense/smell and fast motion. So wearing white fins with a black wetsuit on top you might briefly look like a turtle to a Tiger.
    Tiger's like Turtles..:D

    I'd be astonished if you saw a Tiger at the BlackBeards feed - those are mostly smaller Caribbean Reef Sharks. And they're likely not going to let you get too close. Really the sharks are going to be more interested in getting their piece of the chumsicle than you. The only close encounter I've had is one hit me in the side with his fin - too intent on it while going by me and didn't see me move. Not BB but the Nekton feed - same idea. It's pretty cool, I've got it on tape.

    I've filmed several shark dives - once inside of a circling group of about 15 of them (my buddy counted) near the surface. Not during a feed but I had to stare several of them down as they got pretty close - but they were looking for a handout, not a piece of me. We later dove an adjacent site for the feed. Like Pavlov's dogs, once they heard the anchor chain there was a lot of interest. In fact we had to jump through them as they cruised under the boat. When someone did, they'd twitch slightly.

    I've also dove among reef sharks feeding at night in the wild. They're not really interested in the color of your fins from what I've observed. Mine are shiny silver so would look more like small fish than yours glinting in the lights.
     
  7. robertarak

    robertarak NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Los Angeles
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  8. Seanpaul

    Seanpaul Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Switzerland
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    Recently dived the shark arena with stuart cove's in bright neon yellow fins... nothing ever mentioned about the fin or gear color... Had a nice big grey reef shark flood my mask and another give me a full body block but they weren't interested in me mainly getting to the chum. From what I saw the important thing is no quick moves - slow controlled movements, with your hands always near your body. Basically good diving posture.
     
  9. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
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    You're just a shark magnet, Robert. Is that my picture?

    I've observed the blue sharks we saw on our shark dives did seem to be more attracted to yellow fins, and hypothesized it was the contrast which may have made them think the fins might be fish (= food). I couldn't get a grant to study that scientifically... but it has been done.
     
  10. robertarak

    robertarak NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Los Angeles
    1,409
    649
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