As a followup to my entry about chumming for sharks the other day, I wanted to post the comment from the Divester writer who sparked the original item I found on Divester [Note: As of 2019, this site no longer exists, so all links have been disabled]:
Hi, Jenna. My name is Willy Volk, and I wrote the piece on Divester to which you refer. First, let me say that I enjoyed your trip report, and I’m glad you had the opportunity to share the beauty of sharks with the rest of us. However…
Chumming for sharks is irresponsible, and Jimmy — as knowledgable as he is about sharks and their behavior — knows this.
Although some degree of conditioning can occur between sharks and cage diving boats, this happens when operators do not comply with regulations and allow sharks to feed on bait (http://www.divester.com/2006/09/27/finding-a-balance-how-sharks-and-beachgoers-can-live-together/). I don’t believe that sharks learn to associate chum with humans (and, as a result, acquire a taste for people). However, it is commonly accepted that chumming the water alters sharks’ behavior and attracts them to shore — where they face increased dangers, through fishing, and may inadvertantly attack a person (http://www.divester.com/2006/10/05/oahu-to-limit-shark-tours/). Consequently, the fact that “Jimmy was more than three miles offshore” really has no bearing on the situation. He’s altering their behavior. And anyway: how long does it take for a shark to swim 3 miles?
Moreover, it amazes me that people would recoil in horror at the thought of dragging a kudu through the African bush to attract a lion, but they don’t have a problem with chumming the water to attract sharks. What’s the difference?
“Jimmy had mentioned how several of his competitors do it as well“: Unfortunately, the fact that Jimmy and his competitors all chum for fish does not make it right.
“I don’t believe he felt what he was doing was illegal“: I’ll bet most commercial fishermen — and many drug dealers, for that matter — don’t feel what they’re doing is illegal.
I don’t have a problem with Hall taking people out to see sharks: exposure to these wonderful animals is the best way for peope to overcome their fears and understand their importance in the ecosystem. For that, I commend Hall. However, when Hall expressly denies chumming the water (http://www.hawaiisharkencounters.com/faq.asp), even though you clearly witnessed it, it makes me wonder: Why deny it, Jimmy, if it’s so harmless?