Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Thursday, 9 December 2010
Shark attacks 'don't just happen' says David Diley
Oceanic White Tip Shark
Coming face to face with an incredible predator

David Diley loves sharks so much that he has given up his job as a recruitment consultant to make a film about the feared fish.

The Leeds-based 31-year-old film maker has been fascinated by sharks since he was a small boy.

He has dived dozens of times with sharks including the Oceanic White Tip that have caused the most attacks.

He first filmed his shark encounters on a small video camera but has now graduated to professional equipment.

"In the water you have to exercise a level of respect but sharks are wary of humans.

Incredible predators

"They are incredible predators. They can sense the electrical current and scent of things in the water from a large distance."

David believes sharks have an unusual emotional pull on humans. They have existed since before the dinosaurs and have survived several extinctions that have affected other animals.

Sharks are what is known as an apex predator and they sit at the top of the oceans' food chain, their presence has a profound effect on the species beneath it. David calls sharks the oceans' 'regulator'.

Sharm el-Sheikh, December 2010
A red flag shark warning on a beach in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh

Yet the sighting of a shark's fin cutting through the water produces a strong reaction in any human watcher.

Unusually David's reaction is 'Brilliant, a shark!' in most other people it's panic, a feeling that is deep rooted in our behaviour.

He was last in Egypt, scene of the recent fatal attack on a tourist, during 2009 (just after another fatal shark attack that year).

Combination of stimuli

David cites some reasons why he believes Egypt has shark attacks.

"There has to be a combination of stimuli before an attack"

"Despite a reduction in numbers through overfishing Egypt has a good population of sharks.

"Then the great weather also encourages diving 365 days a year. People go to that area of the coast to go in the sea - that's what attracts them.

"Tourists snorkel in the sea to see some smaller fish and sometimes food is used to encourage smaller fish in. The smaller fish bring in bigger fish and eventually sharks can be attracted in by the fish.

"Sharks do not actively search out humans as prey, there is no such thing as a 'rogue' shark.

"However, I have heard of some tourist operations in that area that are supposed to bait the water to bring the sharks in for divers to see.

"Some hotels and boats dispose of waste food in the sea and cattle boats from Australia have passed through the waters and some dead sheep are put overboard.

"Five or six different things are in place and all come together in a chain of events. The attacks don't just happen, it takes a lot of things to get these sharks into contact with snorkelers.

Sharks' PR

"Sharks need sympathy and it is very difficult to get for them. That's what my current filming is about. I want to improve the sharks' PR - not to make them all 'fluffy' - but so people understand them."

Shark numbers are thought to be falling and over 20 shark species are now listed as critically endangered.

From The Office to the Ocean is a film project detailing David's lifelong love affair with sharks and documenting their relationship with humans.


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific