The incident in which a great white shark broke into a metal divers’ cage off the coast of Baja California last week is now being officially investigated after the National Protected Areas Commission (Conanp) filed a legal complaint.
The case was filed with the environmental agency Profepa and is intended to investigate whether the operators of the vessel offering shark diving at the Guadalupe Island Biosphere Reserve committed an infraction by placing shark bait closer to the divers’ cage than permitted by the regulations.
Alejandro del Mazo Maza, head of Conanp, said the vessel involved in the incident has already been identified and that all its permits, which are issued by the Environment Secretariat (Semarnat), are valid and in order, although “that situation could change.”
“What [the diving operator] did wrong was leave the bait in reach of the shark, which lunged at it. When sharks attack, they close their eyes. This coupled with the animal’s sheer inertia facilitated its breaching of the cage,” said del Mazo.
The Earth Touch news website reported that Conanp regulations stipulate that “bait must be immediately removed once an approaching shark is within two meters of a standing vessel.”
According to experts interviewed by the website, this particular regulation was met. What apparently was an infraction was the angle at which the bait was held.
The rules say the bait must be “thrown in a 45-degree angle from the cage to the outside of the boat,” and pulled in so that it does “not touch the cage or pass over the top of it.”
Dive tour operator Solmar, the firm involved in the shark incident, has addressed what happened in an open letter.
It said it has reinforced its cages and extended the zone around the cage where the bait cannot be dropped. “A meeting with other dive operators will take place later this month in order to work together to minimize unfortunate events like this,” said the statement.
Another incident has surfaced after a video was posted this week on YouTube of a great white shark that bit the hose supplying air to the divers in another cage before it, too, swam through the bars of the cage and became trapped inside.
It was dislodged by tying a rope around its tail while the dive master entered the cage and pressed in the shark’s gills, forcing it to swim away, reported news.com.au.