I think everyone here shares the opinion that shark conservation is incredibly important.
And that is the billion dollar question. Does any of this harm or help the sharks? Are the sharks in the bahamas being protected because of this activity? Will it end once the businesses stop? If not, is it really detrimental to the sharks to chum and pull a bait around for photographs or viewing pleasure? Does it leave them more vulnerable to fishermen who also find out that Tiger beach is a great place to land big sharks? Shark finners are just as sophisticated as we are. They can find out where the best shark spots are by googling everything.
How do the millions of pictures of sharks coming out of the trips help with the PR campaign for the preservation of sharks? How do the sharks benefit if at all? I mean we all know sharks are wild animals and the ones with sharp teeth can hurt us badly, as proven with Markus' unfortunate death, essentially from the bite. Is it some joyride for the fortunate few and photo ops for the pros and nothing else?
If feeding activity keeps sharks in a certain area, what are the effects on the reef where they are suppose to be culling?
Obviously these questions cannot be easily or even objectively answered by many.
Discounting the shark's point, should this activity be banned because some divers want to take photos or get a rush from the dives? Climbing Everest means you have 1 in 10 chances of dying while attempting the summit. Those are pretty dismal odds for an extreme activity. Yet dozens of people line up with their 5 figures to do it annually. Nobody is banning that activity, even with those high odds of dying.
This debate has been around for a long time and pops up every time some poor soul gets bitten. The seemingly pragmatic reflexivity of this debate on both sides are even more convoluted by the money/entertainment aspect of chumming and baiting.
For the record, I am against chum/baiting for sharks on a regular basis, whereby their feeding and other behavior is altered almost permanently. There are plenty of anecdotal evidence that feeding behavioral changes can be bad. In Shark Bay, they use to feed the bottlenose dolphins, then they realized the mothers would not feed their young but hang out for freebies all day. A few even stopped reproducing!
Does that mean we can still go diving? (...but not in shark-infested waters!)
Yes John, so long as you promise not to carry chum in your wetsuit.