In order to increase the added value to local economy in Morotai, we promote shark diving. Shark diving? some or many people may raise the same question: “are there any responsible tourism issues in shark diving industry?”. Even young folks from University (in Indonesia) also came with the similar question that all kind of shark feeding as part of shark diving tourism is something should be avoided.
Dr. Michael Scholl – a conservationist from Switzerland – has different opinion. When asked about the shark conditioning, he replied that sharks are not resident there in Gansbaai, so there were not the same individuals and cannot develop any kind of Pavlovian response as they are not receiving frequent enough “training”. He also added that his boat staff do their best not to “feed” the sharks, altough there are not always quick enough, they do their best to pull the bait out of the water before the shark gets to it. (The Guardian, October 13th, 2006)
Recent publication from Juerg Brunnschweiler and Adam Barnett also mentioned about the controversy of shark-based tourism that uses bait to attract certain species to specific sites. They evaluate 7 years of research before concluded that overall pattern for Carcharhinus leucas (Bull Shark) is that they are attracted to the feeding site regardless of whether feeding or non-feeding days. However, he said, C. leucas remain for longer periods of time (consecutive hours) on feeding days.
So its up to you to perceive this activity (shark diving – especially when it involves shark feeding) is responsible or not. One for sure, you should have an (or more) argument(s) to explain the long term Pavlovian effect between shark and shark feeding activity, as did by Brunnschweiler and Barnett.
1. http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2006/oct/13/adventure.extremesportsholidays.watersportsholidays accessed in December 28th, 2013
2. Brunnschweiler, Juerg M. and Bannett, Adam, “Opportunistic Visitors: Long-Term Behavioral Response of Bull Sharks to Food Provisioning in Fiji” Plos One, March 13th, 2013.