Ocean Ramsey wants you to know that sharks are vastly misunderstood. They’re scavengers, and rarely confrontational, said the biologist and scuba instructor, who has studied the animals for 15 years and leads cageless shark diving expeditions off the coast of Oahu. The ocean region is home to Sandbar, Galapagos, silky and tiger sharks, and scalloped hammerheads.
Sharks, she said, are not particularly interested in human blood — they’re drawn more to dying or wounded fish. But instructors never get complacent with the wild sea animals.
“We know all of the sharks by distinguishable markings, ID numbers and nicknames,” Ramsey said. “So it’s kind of cool to talk about their individual characters with people.”Key to their efforts is conservation, as the shark population has taken a nosedive in the region. Conservationists estimate that roughly 100 million sharks are being killed each year for shark finning – a rate unsustainable for a species with a slow growth and reproductive cycle. One of the main culprits of this phenomenon is shark fin soup, a popular Chinese elitist dish often served at weddings or special events.
Sharks play a vital role in the ecosystem, and losing them could upset its delicate balance. They consume weak, dying and injured fish, slowing the spread of disease, Ramsey said.
GoPro footage of the cageless shark dive shot by Juan Oliphant