When we began Fathom magazine in 1971 – dive shops had an attitude or sales line to customers quite different to today.
“There has never been a shark attack upon a scuba diver” was one line that helped sell goods. It was true for a while but eventually the inevitable happened. A scuba diver was ripped to pieces by a white pointer in South Australia – then more attacks on scuba divers followed.
Were the sharks being inadvertently trained? Nobody knows.
Back in 1970 sharks featured on the cover of dive magazines was an advertising revenue taboo.
It was a rule that the Australian spear fishing magazine magazine did not adhere to, but the leading USA magazine, Skin Diver avoided shark pictures.
Sharks were not good business for the fledgling scuba diving industry.
It shows how little knowledge existed back then of these predators.
LIFE magazine began printing an Australian edition in 1967 and sharks were featured in the first two or three issues. The above picture by Ron Taylor shows John H. (Editor of Fathom) about to fire a second .303 power head at The Big Island off Wooli, New South Wales (1965).
Fathom had a Hammerhead shark on the cover of issue #2 – which proved very popular.
Gradually Skin Diver changed it’s theme and others also realized that divers wanted as much information as possible about a creature thought to be the major hazard faced in the sea.
Today, diving with sharks (often from a cage) is a huge international money spinner. Even diving in an aquarium with ‘stupefied’ sharks is considered a big adventure deal for novice tourist divers, and it is.
Why stupefied? If the Grey Nurse shark looks as if it is ‘gasping for breath’ it probably is.
Sharks in captivity behave very differently to wild sharks in the sea. Especially sharks that have seen few divers.