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The Western Australian government has said it plans to outlaw most forms of shark tourism after four fatal attacks in the past year.
While most people of sound mind would rather juggle a couple of chainsaws than choose to get in some shark-infested waters, it has taken the deaths of four people in the past year for the local government to step in and say 'we probably don't think it's a good idea'.
Shark tourism is a popular choice among people who like flinging themselves out of planes or licking cheese graters or changing their hairstyles by setting their heads on fire but tourism operators' use of attracting sharks to certain marinas or boats has led some to believe it is a possible reason for the spike in attacks.
Six Facts about sharks which may or may
not be true:
1) Sharks are immune to cancer.
2) The Swell Shark, from New Zealand barks
like a dog, but only when it eats a Twix.
3) All Tiger Sharks are conceived as twins
but the larger one eats the small one, no one
4) Sharks don't have bones, they're made
up completely of cartilage and their skin is
covered in teeth known as denticles.
5) A man from California managed to train a
reef shark in the 1960s to catch him lobster,
it was called 'Lobby', his imaginatiion was
worn out after training the shark.
6) Not all sharks die if they stop, the nurse
"While such ventures may generate direct or indirect economic benefits, there are also concerns that sustained activities to attract sharks to feeding opportunities have the potential to change the behaviour patterns of those sharks," said Fisheries Minister Norman Moore, who announced the changes.
By "sustained activities to attract sharks" he means 'throwing a couple of kilograms of bloody chunks into the water to attract some of the largest and most finely tuned predators ever to have existed before chucking some overly-enthusiastic crazy people clad in nothing more than rubber into the water straight after'. And by "behaviour patterns of those sharks", he means 'giving them the taste for blood and then expecting them to just amble by some tasty looking people without even having a gentle nibble'.
And by 'gentle nibble', we mean 'making you look like you fell into a wood chipper for about half an hour'.
Sharks aren't that bad
You might say that there are plenty of species of sharks out there, some small and adorable enough that they'd struggle to brutally tear apart anything more than your average cat or child and therefore present no danger to a swimmer with arms and legs that can definitely move out of the way of an animal which has evolved over hundreds of millions of years to catch and kill things which can swim faster than Usain Bolt can embarrass Dwain Chambers.
With all that sensible logic you might feel that it's perfectly reasonable to get into the water with a couple of Labrador sized sharks that are full to the brim of some tasty chunks of chum but no, we're not talking about the harmless blacktip reef shark that struggles to fend off a rambunctious puppy with a stanley knife, we're talking about the great white shark.
Yes they are
The great white shark: the apex predator of the seven seas, capable of growing to over 6 metres in length and two tonnes in weight, the great white managed to put an entire generation off going into the sea.
It is also ranks first in the number of attacks on humans and Western Australia is ranked as the most deadly place in the world for shark attacks.
So if you want to get in the water armed with nothing more than a snorkel to face these things thinking that a bucket or two of chum is going to 'fill up' an animal which dines on about 19 people-sized seals for breakfast, thereby making it safe to swim with because they 'won't be peckish', you're a bit deluded.
Outlaw swimming with them, and call them mean names
Mr Moore is clearly in agreement with us at the Visa Bureau as there aren't even any tour operators in Western Australia which allow people to get in the water with these things , but he doesn't want to risk it either way.
"White there was no determination from the study about the longer-term effects on shark behaviour or outside the study area, I would prefer to take no risks until more is known," he said.
If you still want to see one of the most fearsome sights in the animal kingdom up close and have a death wish, shark tourism still operates in South Australia.
Or you could just go to an aquarium.
We at the Visa Bureau value our clients highly and would hate to see any of you or your friends get chewed up a bit so we've got a few things for you to do in Western Australia that will give you the same thrill without the risk of death, mutilation or urination.
Swimming with dolphins - the anti-shark
Look how happy they are!
If that was a shark that guy
would be dead, so would the
photographer and so would you
just for looking at the picture.
Dolphins are the opposite of sharks, instead of smelling your blood in the water from 5 miles away and investigating what's going down with a few hundred rows of teeth, dolphins will come and see if you're feeling ok and whether you might fancy a Sprite.
There are countless stories of dolphins helping stranded or struggling swimmers and boats and it's little wonder that swimming with dolphins is almost always top on bucket lists of stuff to do before you die, why not do this rather than swimming sharks, unless of course swimming with sharks is on your bucket list, just make sure you do everything else first.
If you do want to swim with dolphins, Rockingham Wild Encounters is one of the best places to go. You can swim with dolphins at Rockingham, or go and meet some penguins, nature's butlers.
No one ever got hurt by a paint stroke (apart from that guy who told me I couldn't use his turquoise) and perhaps you'd prefer to paint than swim with sharks, to water colour rather than colour the water with your own blood, to saturate your hues rather than saturate your wetsuit, and that's fair enough.
But if you genuinely are looking for a thrill and are quite content with your limbs (even your legs) then paintball might be for you; instead of losing your mind in the water waiting for a silhouette to appear out of your nightmare, why not just arm yourself with a harmless firearm loaded with paint and indulge in some gentle, but chillingly deranged, mind games with some weaker people than you? You could be the shark in this situation.
WASP Paintball is your best source for all your action packed unleashing of the demons within in Western Australia; you might find where your own limits lie by swimming with sharks, but finding out where other people's lie through dark mind games is much more fun.
Rollercoasters were invented so people didn't have to do things like swimming with sharks, or poking tigers with sticks or eating glass. Experience the thrill of what feels like a life threatening situation without actually putting your life and limbs at risk.
In Western Australia, Adventure World is where it's going down with plenty of rollercoasters and a water slide where you can race your mates.
- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.
©Visa Bureau 2003-2013