Underwater Photographer with over 20 years discusses Sharks and shark attacks.
Twenty-six years ago, Mike Kaluza took his first introductory scuba class. He has been diving around his home in Florida and numerous places around the world ever since with no intention of stopping. “I’ll be diving for the next 100 years. Every year I renew my resolution to dive 100 more years.” The photos that he’s taken range from whimsical to heart-stoppingly dramatic.
What may be more shocking is Mike’s choice of dive partners. “Whales don’t really excite me. I don’t care so much for Dolphins. What I love is diving with Sharks, I love Sharks.” Taking a look at Mikes personal photography blog you begin to get the impression that he does, with such pages as “I love my Sharks” it’s a little hard to miss.
I had the fortune of being able to talk with Mike about diving. I wondered what a person who regularly dives with Bull Sharks and Great Hammer Heads would be like. He exhibited the characteristics of a well-traveled man, humble with a good nature. When I express a little surprise that he would want to dive with Bull Sharks, notorious for attacking humans he asked me. “Do you know what happens when you follow behind a Shark with a camera and get to close?” He asked.
“They swim away, and the rest of the people in your dive boat get really annoyed because it takes 30 minutes to get them to come back.” It turns out that Sharks aren’t really all that interested in people. “We have to chum the water to get sharks even to come close to us. They are actually really timid towards humans. You can move them away with your hand if you know what you’re doing.”
It had to be accurate, as I watched the videos later on Mike’s blog diver after a diver was able to gently guide a shark away with nothing more than a slight push of the hand. I asked a little more about Bull Sharks, referred to in much of the media as “the most dangerous shark to humans.” He commented, “That’s a lot of Bull. When I began diving, there were 320 species of sharks; then there were 350, now there are 560 or so. How do they know that it is a Bullshark if they never see the shark? You don’t know what is in the water, but they blame the bull shark.” Side note: at current count, there are over 1,000 species of Sharks and Rays according to Worldwildlife.org.
“And these aren’t shark attacks if a shark attacks you then you aren’t going to survive.”
So what causes the shark to bite people? “If someone is near the shore and is screaming and thrashing around in the water, it excites the shark, and they take a quick bite.”
“A shark will bite and realize they made a mistake, one bite and they realize that we aren’t a seal or some other food item. People aren’t what sharks eat.”
Why do sharks bite in the first place? “It’s just a case of mistaken identity; they think we’re a seal or some other injured animal. When your diving, you have to be aware and not make movements that attract the sharks’ attention.”
“But as far as being ‘attacked’ by a shark, it rarely happens. I have friends that have been bitten by sharks but none that have been attacked.”
How do you prevent being bitten by a shark? “It’s easy before every dive you get a safety brief. Just do what they say. Don’t make quick movements in the water.”
Mike encouraged everyone to go diving and not to be afraid of sharks. “They are misunderstood and get a lot of bad publicity.”
After speaking with Mike any concerns about swimming with sharks, I realized that much of the media sensationalizes these animals. “It’s fake news. They make it sound as if sharks are out to get you, and it just isn’t true.”
I asked if it was like reporters during a hurricane. You see them battling the wind barely able to stand. “Yes, and then someone walks briskly behind them.”
What I learned from speaking with Mike is that you shouldn’t let your fear dissuade you from diving with sharks or diving in general. Go out there, be careful but enjoy yourself. The media makes it appear that these animals are voracious hungry, killing machines that quietly stalk you in the water, but it just isn’t true.
Movies such as Jaws and 48 meters love to portray these beautiful animals as to be hated and despised. This misrepresentation does a disservice toward these graceful animals and makes the world unnecessarily wrathful towards them. When, in fact, we should be looking to preserve and protect these animals — all of the inhabitants of the ocean for that matter.
Sharks have very little interest in humans. It does raise some questions for me. Why don’t sharks like the taste of human, do they think that we’re not good enough? Is it the way we smell to them? I am curious to find out and will have to do some research on the subject.
What is excellent is that Mike has agreed to talk with us in the future and has numerous exciting things to tell us. Some of his adventures are in sea others on land throughout the world. We look forward to speaking with him and hope that you will enjoy these adventure articles.
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