This is the time of year when experienced divers from the world over looking for adrenaline come to learn more about the behavior of Carcharhinus leucas, or bull shark, which visits Playa del Carmen, in the Riviera Maya, every year from November to March.

Welcome all those travelers who are in favor of preserving the environment, who apart from enjoying the world of diving seek to create awareness of the importance of preserving this little-understood shark species: the more we learn about the life cycle of the bull shark, the more we can respect and take care of them. Like much flora and fauna, sharks play a key role in maintaining the sea environment healthy due to the importance of their place in the food chain.

It’s just a matter of a few days before we can see and appreciate them again: this year we hope to continue learning more about them through the research conducted every year by the non-profit association SOS (Saving our Sharks).

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As is the case every season, apart from offering outings without and with attraction (in which certified divers use bait to reach out and interact with the sharks, thus enabling researchers and scientists to collect data on this species), presentations and workshops are also held to create awareness in the local and international community about the value of bull sharks for the tourism industry. The aim is also to mitigate the environmental impact of tourism through a manual of good practices targeting different audiences, ranging from school children to local divers, visiting divers, municipal and regulatory authorities, society in general by eliminating the consumption of bull shark in restaurants, and people who have never been diving or even seen a shark in the water. We can all do our part in ensuring the well-being and continued existence of the bull shark in waters around the world.

Playa del Carmen has a number of dive centers that offer diving tours, some of which form part of the community involved in preserving the bull shark by attending safety meetings, providing data on each dive, complying with existing regulations, disseminating information on the ecosystem in which bull sharks live, etc.

One dive center in particular is known for working hand in hand with SOS and making sure that research efforts are carried out safely:

PHANTOM DIVERS, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO, is a pioneering outfit that offers both kinds of diving expeditions with bull sharks: with or without attraction.

It should be pointed out that such dives can only be conducted by divers with open-water certification, who dive frequently, and who have dived with sharks recently.

It is a straightforward diving experience, but inexperienced divers can be overtaken by the emotion of being surrounded by these impressive sharks and react inappropriately, thus threatening their own safety and that of others.

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Jorge “El Chino” Loria, the founder of Phantom Divers, offers one of the finest diving experiences with bull sharks and has also provided first-hand information for scientists and researchers to gain a better understanding of shark migration patterns. Why do they come to Playa del Carmen every year? What do they do here? Where do they go from here? Why is it that only pregnant females visit Playa at the outset of the season? What kind of places do they give birth in?

SOS has done an excellent job of collecting scientific information every day during the bull shark season, while also placing telemetric and satellite-tracking devices on some sharks to determine the species’ migration routes. Playa del Carmen has always been a meeting place for this species, since way before it became a tourist destination.

By diving with companies that engage in research, you are also helping SOS to conduct its research.

Diving with bull sharks is one of the most extreme yet satisfying dives I have ever done. The idea is to be aware at all times while engaging in authentic interaction with one of the most notorious predators on the planet.

Be sure to follow Phantom Divers, Riviera Maya, México on social media to stay up to date on their activities and prepare for the launching of the 2021-2022 season in Playa del Carmen.

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