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cage diving

noun [uncountable]

a tourist activity in which people are lowered into the sea in steel cages and sharks are lured near them

cage dive

noun [countable] verb [intransitive]

cage diver

noun [countable]

'… He has also gone cage diving off the coast of South Africa to see the Great Whites in action and declares it an "amazing" not life-threatening experience …'

Liverpool Daily Post 1st September 2005

'The Western Cape Coast is one of only three places in the world where white sharks … can be viewed on a cage dive.'

www.sunsetbeach.co.za 8th December 2004

'THRILL-seeking cage divers are being blamed for increasing the likelihood of fatal shark attacks …'

Queensland Sunday Mail 14th August 2005

2005 is the thirtieth anniversary of Jaws, the famous film based on a novel by Peter Benchley about terrifying shark attacks on an American tourist beach. The 30-year anniversary of this cult movie has been marked in various ways, including a special edition DVD released in August 2005, and an ITV programme entitled Celebrity Shark Bait, in which actor Richard E. Grant and Olympic athlete Colin Jackson were caged and submerged into shark-infested waters off the coast of western South Africa.

However, it's apparently not just celebrities who can enjoy the adrenalin rush of coming face-to-face with a white shark. Media coverage of these events highlighted the term cage diving – the latest craze in extreme sports for tourists in search of a thrill!

the sharks are lured by a practice known as chumming, placing a mixture of blood and meat into the water to attract the sharks to the location of the cages

Cage divers – those individuals who are prepared to become human bait in exchange for a tête-à-tête with a great white shark – are lowered in steel cages deep into the sea. The sharks are then lured by a practice known as chumming, placing a mixture of blood and meat into the water to attract the sharks to the location of the cages. Pursuing delicacies such as the liver of a dead fish, the shark swims past the cage enabling excited tourists to take their photos. The most popular location for cage dives is South Africa, though cage diving has also taken off in Australia, San Francisco and the Bahamas.

Background – cage diving

Though thrown into the spotlight by the anniversary of the film Jaws, cage diving has in fact been available as a tourist attraction for the last three or four years. The practice began, and still mainly takes place, in a 60-mile stretch of ocean south of Cape Town known as Shark Alley. The subject of some controversy, it remains to be seen whether cage diving will be an enduring tourist attraction. The practice is already banned in California, and is the subject of major debate in South Africa, where marine environmentalists and tour operators are locked in a fierce argument about whether it is to blame for an increased number of shark attacks. Those opposed to cage diving argue that it increases the possibility of sharks forming an association between humans and food. After almost two decades with virtually no attacks, five (two fatal) have been reported in South Africa this year.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 12th September 2005.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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