Bull sharks are massive and powerful animals that have a reputation for aggression. They can grow to more than 3m (10 feet) in length, weighing upwards of 350kg (800lbs). They are fearsome predators that are afraid of very little.
These scuba divers in Fiji have descended 25m (75 feet) beneath the surface to gather in an area inhabited by hundreds of bull sharks. They have a front row seat to a controlled feeding. These feedings are controversial and experts have differing opinions on how appropriate they are. Initially, it was seen as harmful to the animal life to interfere and change their behaviour. It cannot be denied that encouraging sharks to associate humans with food is potentially dangerous.
But this situation is far more complex than it would first appear. The nearby village off the island of Fiji was struggling to survive. Large fishing operations offered a substantial and irresistible compensation for the rights to fish on the reef within their boundaries. Soon after, the fish were depleted and the health of the reef was in serious decline. The sharks were in danger of starving.
These shark feedings began as a way to attract tourism dollars that would allow the village to thrive without allowing overfishing. The village is compensated generously for allowing the tours and the fisheries are not threatened. Fish populations are on the rebound and sharks have returned to the reef.
It's a matter of debate whether the benefit outweighs the harm on an ethical front, but it's undeniable that the sharks and fish populations have increased as a result of this change. If something had not been done, the reef and the village would have suffered irreparable harm.