There are now quite a few Aquarium places around the UK now and some of them offer the exciting opportunity to come and meet the sharks in their environment now one of these places is the blue planet aquarium in Ellesmere Port. This is has a vast aquarium tank and is also a PADI dive site and training centre.
This place offers the ultimate encounter to go inside the large aquarium tank to meet some of the species of shark on display. The range of sharks is black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks and the sand Tiger shark. The Sand Tiger sharks look fairly aggressive but it's mainly down to the way the teeth stick out at the front and overlap like a very sharp mesh.
The real danger is only that you don't do exactly what is required from the safety brief if you stick to doing exactly what you are told you are in relatively not much danger. I myself am a fully qualified professional diver and have been in the Aquarium tank a great number of times and find the experience very entertaining.
Taking new people into the tank and watching their expressions when one of the big Sand Tigers comes past is most amusing. The experience starts with a good talking about sharks behaviour and the safety requirements with using sub aqua equipment and what to expect from the sharks.
The safety briefing sometimes contains a small demonstration of the dangers of sharks if for example a nurse shark is available in the small tanks at the back then the following might be shown. A nurse shark has the tendency to sit on the bottom and not move very much at all. This is very much an illusion if you where to drop into the small tank a small piece of squid then that shark would jump into life wiz round the tank and eat the squid faster than you can blink.
The upshot being they may look harmless but they are not by a long way another interesting thing pointed out is that they can turn on sixpence or if you are silly enough to grab the tail of a shark you would find your arm in its teeth before you know it. Once a shark has got hold of you the chance of getting it to let go are somewhat remote.
After the safety briefing and the buddy equipment checks are complete it is time for you to descend the staircase into the water. This always has a profound effect on me as I'm descending watching a number of the sharks patrolling round me. Then I'm in and move round into the cave the gathering point. Once all the divers for this trip are assemble into the cave then we can head out and explore the bottom of the tank.
Watching the various fish, sharks and rays in this artificial tropical aquarium is fantastic often there will be videos and underwater cameras used to capture your experience. The whole under water experience last around 30 minutes and there the chance of being able to find some shark teeth at the bottom of the aquarium.
If you are very fortunate some of the rays will come down and land on your head this is because when feeding they sense the air from the divers and think its food time so sometimes they expect some food. Some of the dive leaders may bring something for them sometimes not depending on the experience of the group.
This is a fantastic night out and the memory will live with you a long time especially if one of the bigger sharks gets a little bit too close and you have to get out of the way. There are lots of other fish to interact with some of the fish will go for your whistle on your BCD as they think its food.
All in all a great time and I look forward to being in the tank again soon watching new people experience a close encounter of the shark variety.
Andy Bolton http://www.bravemain.com Hot Air Balloons