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Whale Sharks: A Diving Instructor’s Testimony

By: C Hagland

Date Posted: 2000-03-10

"C" Hagland is an underwater videographer, dive instructor, and author of the web site Torii Training (http://www.toriitraining.com). She and her husband, Gary have over 20 years of instructor experience. Here, she explains some of the benefits of whale shark dives to the community:

“If I had to choose one of the many benefits to the whale shark dives, it would be this: I think the biggest benefit is a better appreciation for the marine world in and it's residents.

“People learning to dive have a very warped sense of the marine life that they interact with each time they dive, particularly because most encounters are with small fish and non threatening corals. They fear sharks, because of Hollywood movies and Discovery Channel's Shark Week. By being able to interact with such large creatures, to actually reach out and touch them with a bare hand, to see that they can think, and have personalities and moods, they learn a lot more. “My first reaction to diving with the whale sharks was total respect for Mother Nature. Here were these huge whale sharks that were so powerful, yet so graceful. I think the only reason I didn't spend the entire dive with my mouth hanging wide open in astonishment, was due to the need of keeping my regulator in to breathe.

When my husband proposed the idea of getting married with the whale sharks, how could I refuse? “I have made dozens of dives with the whale sharks. They are rotated out periodically and released, so I have had the pleasure to interact with at least 6 different ones. Each whale shark has a distinctive personality and they are perceptive of the personalities of the divers around them. I have seen dives where very inexperienced but eager to interact divers have been treated to a spectacular show. And I have seen dives where the arrogant are literally ignored. They seem to also have the ability to recognize individuals. With what sense, who knows?"

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