Matt Waller of Adventure Bay Charters began experimenting with music played through underwater speakers, as other cage-diving operators in other regions have, as a means of luring sharks to divers in cages without using chummed fish parts, which is increasingly controversial.
Sharks are sensitive to vibrations and have long been known to be able to hone in on the source of the noise from great distances. (Pacific Islanders used to rub coconuts together underwater to attract certain species of sharks.)
Waller, in a news release, invited guests to bring their own CDs to “see if the Great White has similar taste in rock-and-roll, pop or hip-hop. Any genre is welcome, if the sharks don’t like it, we will put AC/DC back on, which to date is their favorite!”
Several Australian newspapers have picked up the story, quick to make note of Waller’s observation that one of the songs most likely to attract great whites is “If You Want Blood.” Another favorite is “Shook Me All Night Long.”
Waller explained to Adelaide Now that it’s a specific range of frequency, not the titles or lyrics, that attracts sharks from long distances. He added that AC/DC’s high-decibel, low-frequency music seems perfect for the task for the predators at Neptune Islands.
“We know the AC/DC music works best by trial-and-error, and we are doing more research to see what works best with different species of sharks,” Waller told the newspaper. “Quite often we can see the sharks on the surface, but most of the time our guests want to get in the cage and see them up close. I’ve seen the sharks rub their faces on the cage where the sound is coming from as if to feel it.”
Reached Wednesday for this story he said: “Effectively food [chum] will get better results, but it delivers a more aggressive experience. We are after a passive experience; we don’t see signs of aggression but we see more curiosity and are interested in finding exactly which frequencies work the best and which ones don’t.”
While playing music underwater to attract sharks is becoming increasingly popular at dive sites, it remains unclear whether the music is harmful to sharks or to what extent this might alter their environment. Certainly, not everyone favors the practice.
Said Patric Douglas, CEO of Shark Diver and a longtime tour operator: “Call me a purist, but would we do the same thing in Alaska with bear encounters?”
– Image of great white shark is courtesy of Adventure Bay Charters