Ask a Scientist: What if I want to swim with...Sharks?


For predatory species:

-Enter the water calmly and stay calm throughout the encounter. Any rapid movements may stress the animal(s) or you might be mistaken for prey in distress ;)

-Be aware of your environment! Get yourself an overview about the number of sharks around you and observe your surroundings thoroughly. Where is the boat? Where are my fellow swimmers/divers? Do not forget to look behind or underneath yourself.

-Maintain eye contact. Swimming with sharks requires your full attention. When you signal them you are aware of their presence they are discouraged from any minor or major nibbling…Sharks are smart and usually not aggressive, however, they are still wild animals.

-Do not dress too colourful. Bright colours on fins, gloves or the wetsuit itself can irritate the shark(s) as lots of tropical fish are dazzling and therefore may trigger predatory behaviour. Here, timeless black is the best choice and the animals should not get too excited about it.

-Do not try to touch a shark. Their skin is very rough (like the tongue of a cat) and they might feel unhappy or even threatened about it and eventually will let you know by biting.


For filter-feeders:

-Enter the water slowly without making any noise. In the water, keep your fins in the water body to avoid any splashing as this may startle the shark.

-Continue with slow movement when animal is in sight. Whale sharks can be accompanied for some minutes as they travel in a slow pace, but remember to have a safe distance (min 4m) to the animal and in particular, to its tail.

-Just look, do not touch! Physical contact may affect their health and therefore should be left to our pets at home.


Taking pictures while experiencing animals at short range is very popular and it’s a great way to take some memories back home. For this, please make sure your flash is turned off at any times as it may startle the animal.