Swim With Sharks in 360 Degrees

Dive in and take a look inside the lives of the ocean's most ferocious predator: the fearsome shark

By Underwater Earth

Studying oceanic whitetip sharks in the Bahamas by Cape Eleuthera Institute

From the White Tip Reef Sharks of the Philippines to the Great White Sharks of Port Lincoln, Australia, we have it all. Join us on this expedition to learn about all kinds of sharks and their natural habitats. 

Welcome to Fiji, a country in the South Pacific with a rugged landscape of blue lagoons and palm-lined beaches. Although it seems like a serene setting, this tropical oasis is home to one of the best shark dives in the world, featuring one of the most feared sharks of all, the bull shark. Click and drag to look around the reef.

Bull sharks are thought to be the most dangerous species of shark because they are common, aggressive, live near populated tropical shorelines, and also frequently travel far inland up freshwater rivers. Click and drag to look around and see them up close.

Ancient Creatures

Sharks are older than dinosaurs, with ancestry dating back over 400 million years. These animals are uniquely adapted to the ocean because of six highly refined senses including smell, hearing, touch, taste, sight, and electromagnetism, which helps detect potential prey.

Shark Diversity

There are more than 440 species of shark that have been recorded around the world. They come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found everywhere from Fiji to Florida.

The Importance of Sharks

Sharks play an important role in marine ecosystems. At the top of the aquatic food chain, they keep the populations of their prey stable, while also providing essential food sources for scavengers at the bottom, such as plants. Click and drag to look around, but don’t end up at the bottom of the food chain yourself...

Whale Shark

We head over to Mexico, known for its beaches and water-based activities, for our next dive with the sharks. Here we get to meet the biggest fish in the ocean, the whale shark, a rare species thought to migrate extremely long distances.

Filter feeders

Whale Shark

Whale sharks are the world’s largest living species of fish. It is thought that fully grown adults can reach an incredible 20 metres in length and weigh up to 20 tons.

SVII-S close to a magnificient Whale Shark in Mexico by Lynton BurgerUnderwater Earth

Gentle Creatures

These huge sharks may look intimidating, but they are gentle, docile creatures that are harmless to humans. They use their huge mouths (up to a metre wide!) to filter plankton from the ocean.

Hitchhikers

Small fish often hitch a ride alongside whale sharks. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the fish aren’t in any real danger since whale sharks mostly feed on plankton. In Mexico, manta rays like to keep company with the sharks, too.

Conservation

Whale sharks are rare creatures and are listed as “vulnerable to extinction” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. A better understanding of their biology and ecology is needed to help this threatened species.

Great White Sharks

A cage dive with a hungry great white shark is a bucket list item that many may never experience. We’ve come to the cold waters of Port Lincoln in South Australia to meet this ocean giant in its natural habitat, behind the safety of steel bars.

Great White Shark

Great whites are the largest predatory fish on Earth. They have rows of over 300 sharp teeth, and an exceptional sense of smell that can detect even a tiny amount of blood up to roughly 5 kilometers away.

Naturally Curious

Great whites have earned a fearsome reputation, which isn’t completely fair. These naturally curious sharks aren’t preying on humans, they’re biting to investigate something unfamiliar to them, using their teeth like we use our hands.

Conservation

Great whites are listed as “vulnerable to extinction” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Females reproduce once every two to three years, so it takes a long time to add members to a decreasing population.

Reef Sharks

The Coral Sea is an area off the east coast of Australia that has not been heavily fished due to its remote location. As a result, it is one of the best locations in the world to encounter healthy populations of reef sharks, including the blacktip reef shark. 

Shark Tourism

It’s estimated that 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year. Surprisingly, shark tourism is on the rise. People flock from all over the world to snorkel or dive with these magnificent ocean creatures.

Reef Sharks

Reef sharks are found cruising around coral. They are smaller than their open-ocean cousins. They are the most commonly encountered shark species by scuba divers and aren’t a threat unless provoked.

Breathing Method

Oceanic sharks must continually swim forwards. This forces seawater through their open mouths and over their gills, in order to breathe; otherwise, they would suffocate.

Remora Fish

Remora fish attach themselves to sharks with a suction disc on the top of their head. The remoras feed on parasites found on the shark’s skin, which in turn benefits the shark by keeping it clean and healthy.

Shark Encounters

One of the easiest places to encounter a shark in the wild is Sydney, where they can usually be found resting on the ocean floor or sheltering under rocky ledges. There are over 60 recorded species of shark in the waters around this major city.

Port Jackson Shark

This Port Jackson shark is abundant in Sydney. It definitely isn’t the scariest shark around, since they usually don’t grow larger than a metre and don’t have sharp, pointy teeth.

Shark Eggs

Did you know that some shark species lay eggs? They do, and each species has a different shape. Port Jackson sharks lay spiral-shaped eggs, so that they can safely wedge them into rock crevices until they hatch.

Grey Nurse Sharks

One of the easiest places to encounter a shark in the wild is Sydney. There are over 60 recorded species of shark in the waters around this major city, including the grey nurse shark, the world’s most menacing looking yet harmless shark. 

Grey Nurse Shark

Although grey nurse sharks are rather large and have rows and rows of razor sharp teeth, they’re not considered dangerous to humans—they’re rather docile. They breed in the waters close to Sydney and provide a thrill to scuba divers.

Conservation

The numbers of grey nurse sharks dwindled to near extinction in recent years, and in 1984 they were the first shark species in the world to be granted protected status. 

Reproduction

For the grey nurse shark, survival of the fittest begins even before birth. The strongest embryo in the womb eats all of their siblings so that only one (well-fed) baby shark is born.

White Tip Reef Sharks

Tubbataha, in the Philippines, was only discovered by scuba divers as recently as the 1970s. Because of its remote location, there are fewer fishermen and the fish life is abundant as a result, with 14 species of shark to be found.

UNESCO World Heritage

The huge diversity of sharks and other marine life at Tubbataha led to the park being declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in 1993.

White Tip Reef Sharks

In this image you can see some whitetip reef sharks cruising along the reef looking for prey. This species of shark is timid and not a danger to humans, but they are curious and likely to investigate scuba divers.

Healthy Coral

The healthy coral reef seen here means that there are plenty of small reef fish to be found, which in turn attracts the bigger fish and sharks, leading to a balanced ecosystem.

Credits: Story

AXA XL, The University of Queensland, Google, UNESCO, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Panedia, Fourth Element

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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