Shark week 2018 is in the books, but Cayman’s shark-logging community is still basking in the afterglow.
Saturday, Ocean Frontiers and Shark Conservation Cayman teamed up to offer active shark logger participants an unforgettable underwater encounter.
More than three dozen shark loggers have logged more than 6,800 dives through June of this year, according to new numbers from Shark Conservation Cayman.
17% of the time, shark loggers are encountering a shark, slightly down so far from 2017’s rate of 20%.
Saturday afternoon, a small handful of active shark loggers headed to an East End dive site known for its resident Caribbean reef sharks, hoping for a close encounter.
A curious reef shark gave Cayman 27 cameras the eye as it glided by just inches from the lens. It’s an adrenaline-pumping close encounter this small group of shark loggers won’t soon forget.
“In the beginning when I got open water certified, that was my biggest fear was seeing a shark,” admitted Phillip Campbell.
However, he said times have changed. Mr. Campbell said he has been submitting monthly dive logs to Shark Conservation Cayman since the beginning of this year.
“To actually come out here and doing a dive and they are swimming two or three feet away from you, and they don’t even care that you’re there, they just want to see what is going on and then they go away, it is amazing the difference, it is something that more people should see,” said Mr. Campbell.
“One of the most important things about this project is about education of sharks, because there are a lot of people that are still scared of sharks,” said Julia Bradford.
As a dive instructor, shark logger Julia Bradford said overcoming misconceptions about these apex predators is key to overcoming shark fears.
“I often get guests coming in, they have a cut on their finger [and they ask], whether they’re going to be bringing sharks towards them and whether they are dangerous or not,” she said.
“I am a biologist by trade, I am very aware that humans kill over 100 million sharks a year, and it breaks my heart,” said Josphine Horwitz.
She told Cayman 27 she was logging her dives long before the shark logger programme came into being. In that time, she said she’s picked up a lot of important knowledge from her data.
“Every time you write down when you saw a shark and the species and the sex, you start to see a pattern develops over time, so you are really interested in seeing particular nurse shark, you can go back to that spot and most likely find it,” she explained.
And after a thrilling close encounter with a handful of these apex predators, it’s safe to say these shark loggers leave inspired to seek out their next shark encounter.
The shark logger programme is relatively new. Launched last year, Shark Conservation Cayman said more than 10,000 dives were logged in 2017 over 427 dive sites around all three islands.
So far this year, Little Cayman’s shark loggers have had the best shark sighting success, logging sharks in close to one out of every four dives.