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'Cowboy' Shark Dive Operator Warned Over Safety Before Fatal Attack; 'Accident Waiting To Happen'
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MIAMI, Florida -- The dive operator that ran a shark expedition where a diver was killed by a shark bite had been warned to stop the practice of "dangerous" shark interactions in the islands of the Bahamas.

Neal Watson, president of the Bahamas Dive Association, warned in a letter last year which went to all dive companies operating in the Bahamas, to cease and desist "conducting open-water non-cage shark diving experiences with known species of potentially dangerous sharks, such as tiger sharks, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks, lemon sharks & mako sharks." The letter goes on to say "some dive operators have chosen to disregard standard safe-diving practices as it relates to interactions with tiger sharks and other potentially dangerous species of sharks, in various locations within the waters of The Islands of The Bahamas."

On Sunday, Riviera Beach, Florida-based Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures was conducting a dive expedition to interact with tiger and hammerhead sharks in the Bahamas when an Austrian diver, Marcus Groh, was bitten on the leg by what is believed to be a bull shark. A Coast Guard helicopter airlifted Groh, 49, to a Miami hospital where he died hours later as a result of his shark bite injuries.

Abernethy's Scuba Adventures, which specializes in tiger, hammerhead, and lemon shark expeditions in the Bahamas, is not a member of the Bahamas Dive Association.

Though not specifically mentioned in the warning letter, Watson confirmed the letter was specifically targeted at Abernethy’s operation, which was viewed as an "accident waiting to happen."

In an interview, Watson said "interactive shark dives have been safely conducted in the Bahamas for over 25 years," with a variety of operators. Historically, these interactive dives have been with Caribbean reef, black tip, and silky sharks, all considered relatively safe for controlled interactions with divers. Watson contrasted these encounters with other operators, namely Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures, which specializes in interactions with potentially dangerous man-eating sharks outside the safety of a cage.

Watson said "there’s not a shark expert in the world that would put divers in the water, with chum, specifically to attract bull, tiger and hammerhead sharks, without a cage. That’s putting people’s lives at risk"

Watson said Abernethy’s "cowboy" operation "refused to comply" with his cease and desist recommendation.

According to Scuba Adventure's website, "to ensure the best results," the expeditions "chum" the water with fish parts to attract the sharks. Divers then enter the water, without the benefit of a cage. The website states that shark diving is a "potentially dangerous sport and since there can be strong currents, divers should be fairly experienced.”

Abernethy’s "Captain’s Blog" contained this passage from the February 11th- 19th expedition, last trip before the fatal attack: "Last week we figured out a very unique way to capture much better images of the wide open mouth of the tiger shark and this weeks images are quite impressive showing the success. We will be adding this to all of our future trips. It is quite a pleasure for me to constantly improve the way we do things here at JASA from a photographic perspective that allow our repeating guests to constantly come back with better and completely different shots.

I have quite simply been blessed with the most wonderful crew that truly loves their work and are constantly making everything better for everyone here. Without all of them, I would quite honestly not have the success that we do have."

Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures did not return our calls for comment.

Reader Comments

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I went on that boat a few years ago with Atlantis Dive center and Captain Slate who put the trip together. It doesn't surprise me that Jim's boat had a fatality, it was a sloppy poorly run boat with bad food. We left without shark chum, he forgot it and I had my fishing gear with me and I caught fish for chum. Jim misfilled Slate's Nitrox tank and before a dive Slate checked it and said to Jim="hey Jimmy, that would have killed me". The mix was a fatal one if it was used. I'm a very experienced diver and have 100 hours with sharks, have caught and tagged 400 large sharks, set a record with a 740 pound mako catch in Florida, been a commercial blue fin tuna fishman in Maine and am a marine artist for a living now=www.hotglassheilman.com, so I know what I'm talking about. Chris Heilman
   comment# 1   - Chris Heilman · Renton Washington USA · Feb 25, 2008 @ 10:56pm

Idiots... Complete, total, absolute idiots. I'd love to find Groh wherever he is on the "other side", walk up to him, and say, "I hope it was worth it."
   comment# 2   - Gypsy · Tacoma, WA - USA · Feb 26, 2008 @ 2:06am

What a classic case of stupidity! If the guy was a lawyer and his client had done what he had done, even after being warned of the danger,I'm sure the guy could have figured out how to sue for "criminal negligence." Who's going to sue on this guy's behalf. Homer Simpson.
   comment# 3   - Mike Newton · Hamilton, Ohio USA · Feb 26, 2008 @ 3:08am

This incident doesn't surprise anyone who really knows sharks. Anyone remember Erich Ritter, on a Discovery Channel show, chumming in bull sharks to show the world how harmless they are? Remember the attack on him, which nearly killed him during that episode? Can you imagine baiting in say, African lions to an area, then getting out of your vehicle to try to pet them in their agitated state? Why is it, then, that so many otherwise intelligent people do the same with dangerous shark species? Maybe, just maybe, it's time for government, industry and the "experts" to be a little more honest with the public about the dangers of certain species of shark, and not put conservation efforts above public safety. Also, maybe now would be a good time to open a debate about the ethics of feeding sharks, thereby making them correlate humans with food? Come on folks, how many more people have to die? Kevin Harris Host, Shark Conspiracies sharkconspiracies.net
   comment# 4   - Kevin · Agoura Hills, CA · Feb 26, 2008 @ 7:33am

Diving in the ocean is dangerous to begin with. Sharks are predators, when you chum the water, you excite the sharks sensory receptors for food. The rest is common sense. I think that the remaining divers are lucky that a feeding frenzy didn't get started. Bull and Tiger sharks are just too big and to tempt fate with. Bull sharks have the highest levels of testosterone and are know to be the No 1 deadliest shark, they don't care how brave you are. Bull Sharks will attack without provocation. I've seen the people who dive out of the gage with Great White sharks on TV, but they are stupid enough to put chum in the water when they are free swimming with them.
   comment# 5   - Daniel J. Imbs · Port Saint Lucie · Feb 26, 2008 @ 8:41am

taste like chicken . was he wearing his sign??? never pull over for idiots,been with great whites in south af, black tip in Mexico, sand tigers n,c.never heard of chum and dive .like to live to dive again
   comment# 6   - joe diver semi · woodbury,ct. · Feb 26, 2008 @ 9:40am

Some of the reaction to this tragic accident is completely and depressingly predictable, with people jumping to conclusions when they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. I did exactly the same shark trip last February with Jim Abernethy, and his company is a totally professional outfit which takes safety extremely seriously (Jim has even kicked people off his boat mid-way through a trip if they've ignored his safety advice). You are left in no doubt as to the potential dangers posed by these wonderful predators and thus are left fully aware that this is not a risk-free activity. People get killed on African safaris by elephants(even when in the supposed safety of their jeeps) and during other potentially dangerous wildlife activities, yet do we hear calls for them to be banned? Bring sharks into the equation and people get hysterical. Finally, Chris Heilman, I think if you were to go on a JASA trip now you would eat your words. I know countless other people who have been on his trips and have nothing but praise for Jim and his crew. Why do you think his trips are used by renowned photographers, film crews and get booked up many months in advance?
   comment# 7   - Ben Arthur · Douglas, Isle of Man · Feb 26, 2008 @ 11:20am

I don't know what exactly happened to poor Markus Groh, but I've been on Shear Water and it's a crumbling mess. The owner is a rude, crude and over-confident man who cares little about safety. Thrills are his main objective. Mr. Abernethy's friends and doppelgangers should stop trying to defend him and instead direct their thoughts and concern to Mr. Groh's family. And Mr. Abernethy should re-think his methods.
   comment# 8   - An Onymous · Florida · Feb 26, 2008 @ 12:08pm

I think people should basically be allowed to do what they want. I have a feeling that nobody on that boat misunderstood the risk of what they were doing. Yeah, the ocean can be dangerous if you're not careful, but you can say that about a lot of things in life, like climbing a tree or eating sushi. I've done plenty of dives and I have to wonder to what extent that a non-diver believes the ocean to be dangerous and risky. I don't think those people were idiots, because I don't know enough about the story to judge them. But I have a feeling that those who are judging them probably don't know personally much about diving, sharks, the ocean, or much else surrounding the story. Anyways, sure, stuff can happen. But most often, it doesn't. I don't think this sort of activity should be banned; people should be able to do what they want and take the risks that they want. Those dive boats almost always carry liability waivers on them, and most divers I know are super-anal about taking responsibility for their own actions. It's a nice example for the rest of us.
   comment# 9   - J-Dive · Los Angeles, CA · Feb 26, 2008 @ 4:41pm

Just left Singer Island fla. Sat. If it wasn't for a sore neck I was close to planning a dive trip with Abernathy's scuba adventures. Now I will do a lot of researching before dives. thank you and safe diving
   comment# 10   - tony mordino · buffalo, ny · Feb 26, 2008 @ 5:29pm

Now you can say & think all you like about shark diving, I have great respect & admiration for the responsible divers who do it. They bring us knowledge & information that is extremely important. Divers die all the time on wrecks & recreational dives (much more than shark divers) and actually this is the first shark diver I've heard of involved in such an accident. I am sad. I am sad for Mr. Groh's family & all those who loved him. I am sad for all the people on the dive operation that day. I am sad for the future of shark diving. I am sad for the sharks who are growing smaller in their numbers everyday by the people who fin them for soup. This is a story that has touched me on many different levels but probably the most important lesson that I have taken from this tragedy is that life is precious. Enjoy & grab every moment you can. Mr. Groh can be a symbol to us all...he died doing exactly what he loved & wanted to do. He knew the risks. Let us never forget that the ocean is not our home. We are visitors. When we are diving, we can never forget where we are...not for an instant. I guess I am writing this because I've seen a few "slamming/trashing" blogs out there about this incident when there's nothing to slam or trash. If one does not know the full series of events that happened here, one cannot even begin to draw an opinion. Let us instead refrain from the blame game & speculation & reserve our j
   comment# 11   - Alisa Schwartz · Jackson,NJ · Feb 26, 2008 @ 5:32pm

people need to wait for the autopsy before they make any comments whatsoever....it is possible that Mr. Groh died as a result of something other than the shark bite.
   comment# 12   - jeff · boca raton, FL USA · Feb 26, 2008 @ 5:37pm

I was sailing into Bimini when this incident happened and heard most of the VHF discussion between Shearwater and the USCG. At one point, the Shearwater stated that the victim was 'stable', and also that there was a paramedic at hand. Yet the man still died. I am left to wonder if there is more to this story than has been told by those involved. In googling Abernethy, it seems that his business had a dive fatality off the Florida coast in '05, not shark related however. Still, that's two fatalities in less than three years. In my opinion, this recent fatality, and everything associated with this incident, needs to be investigated. I sense that not all the truth has come out here. W. Moran sailgypsywind@yahoo.ca
   comment# 13   - Wally Moran · Orillia Ontario Canada · Feb 26, 2008 @ 10:38pm

Wally: The "not all the truth has come out here" may have to do with business, but it also may have to do with the shark attack itself. There is often a cloak of secrecy around shark attacks, especially when tourism or conservation interests are involved. Was it an unprovoked shark attack that the dive industry wants to hush up? Do conservationists want to paint an otherwise unprovoked shark attack fatality as a "provoked" attack - meaning they were chumming and baiting the sharks? We still don't know the whole story yet, but I think many people, such as yourself, are beginning to see that there may be more to the story than what we are led to believe when it comes to shark attacks. For more on this, please visit: sharkconspiracies.net.
   comment# 14   - Kevin · Agoura Hills, CA · Feb 27, 2008 @ 9:07am

Jim Abernathy and his wife are complete IDIOTS!!! He knows better but, his ego got the best of him! I took a class out with him once and his divemaster had little experience and should not have had the ranking that he was given! Abernathy should be brought up on charges! The very least lose his USCG license!! FOOL
   comment# 15   - Rick Butler · Florida · Feb 27, 2008 @ 9:26am

Diving in the ocean is risky at any time but putting chum in the water is the most idiotic thing i have ever heard of. A definite accident waiting to happen. Jim Abernathy should lose his license.
   comment# 16   - sandra · canada · Feb 28, 2008 @ 6:15am

Why are people allowed to sue for their own stupidity. The operator did not push the diver into the water. I agree he is just as big an less than intelligent person but perhaps criminal charges would be better. All a law suit will do is effect all our business insurance rates
   comment# 17   - Mike · Connecticut · Feb 28, 2008 @ 2:16pm

As long as people are not throwing you in the water agaianst your will , let people do what they want . Its a tragedy it happened yeah but how many people die doin other activities like flying planes and skydiving . there were risks that any person dealing with wild animals should know they are taking . the man paid for a trip with close interaction with some dangerous shark species unfortunately he got a little more then he was expecting.
   comment# 18   - Shawn · Philadelphia PA · Feb 28, 2008 @ 4:41pm

que mala onda
   comment# 19   - alex · mexico · Feb 28, 2008 @ 10:33pm

I have been on a chummed shark dive in which we were trying to attract Grey Reef, Black Tip, Nurse, Bronze Whalers, Bulls, and Tiger sharks. It was not the same dive operation but it was still a cageless, chummed, shark dive. That single day of diving changed my life. I never felt in danger and I am now an avid shark advocate. I feel the importance of getting people on the side of the sharks is key to saving a quickly deminishing population. Diving is a dangerous sport, and I know the risks every time I get in the water for a shark dive. Even after this unfortunate event I will continue to shark dive without a cage and rally on behalf of the shark.
   comment# 20   - Kelly · Livingston, USA · Feb 29, 2008 @ 11:33am

Kelly: You can speak on behalf of sharks without trying to prove the ridiculous... that sharks such as tigers and bulls are safe animals to hang around with in the water. You never know just what will trigger an attack response in these creatures. Yes, you may have several uneventful dives with them, but I see it as if you were robbing banks. You may get away with it once or twice, but if you keep doing it, you'll get caught, for sure. Maybe you could think critically for a minute, and not buy into the propoganda from the tourism and conservation crowd... just for a minute, think through this stuff. Sharks deserve protection - I am totally with you on that, but they really are dangerous creatures, who will, on occasion, take an easy human meal. Please don't end up like the gentleman from Austria. Sincerely, Kevin Harris Host, Shark Conspiracies
   comment# 21   - Kevin · Agoura Hills, CA · Feb 29, 2008 @ 4:32pm

Kevin in Agoura you are right with the lion analogy. My family has been on safari. We are also divers and diving is essentially a safari - only in a potentially deadlier environment because, well, we don't breathe water. We have never and never will do or go anywhere near shark-bait dives nor for that matter, go on any dolphin experiences either. Neither one is a natural experience and both violate the basic rule for human interaction with wild environment: do not touch or feed the wildlife, do not pick the wildflowers, do not touch or pick the coral reef. SIMPLE. And yes, the government ABSOLUTELY must be involved in regulating and policing this industry.
   comment# 22   - KC · Grosse Pointe MI · Mar 1, 2008 @ 9:33am

You said it KC. It is against the law to feed wildlife or interfere with wild animals in anyway on US soil. These laws are for good reason to protect Humans and wildlife. I believe these shark feeding dives and free diving with large aggressive ,dangerous sharks is just like playing russian roulete.
   comment# 23   - Robert Rolin · Onalaska, Texas · Mar 1, 2008 @ 9:29pm

Robert, you got it, exactly. The position that you and I have is actually on par with the shark conservationists. It's nice for us, and the conservationists, to actually see eye-to-eye on something. The dive industry, of course, sees it differently. My next podcast is going to be on this event and the aftermath, but I'll give you a little teaser here and tell you that the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner has listed this fatal attack as an "accident." Take care. Kevin
   comment# 24   - Kevin · Agoura Hills, CA · Mar 4, 2008 @ 1:26pm

KC, I'd take my chances with a shark, even a Bull or Tiger, over a lion any day.
   comment# 25   - walt · sanibel, fl. · Mar 6, 2008 @ 6:02am

First you throw shark bait into the water. Then you throw a person into the water with the shark bait. What would one expect to have happen when the sharks come to eat the bait?
   comment# 26   - Elaine · Boston, MA · Mar 6, 2008 @ 7:56pm

There is so much sensationalist rubbish in this column. However, I have 2 points to make: 1. " You may get away with it once or twice, but if you keep doing it, you'll get caught, for sure." This is a factually incorrect statement. Read up about probabilities and you will see. 2. Most divers that die while diving actually kill themselves through stupidity and incompetence. It would be better to concentrate on solving that issue than worrying about sharks unduly.
   comment# 27   - Mark Carter · Exeter, UK · Mar 10, 2008 @ 5:13am

Eric Pixel, Wet Chang Clearly the responses to this shark attack-and not a shark accident or shark mistake or shark misfire, has been at it's most hysterical from Eric Cheng's Wet Pixel crowd. They, with his blessings and encouragement, have gone an a virtual rampage throughout the dive industry slamming anyone who would counter open and honest thoughts concerning big predator interactions-without cages or any real safety. Do not think that a camera housing or length of pvc pipe=safety. Neal Watson, for one, being called a parasite and slandered by this mob. What a sad commentary from a group of divers and professional photographers who by the way make a living from this industry. Loyalty to a dive operation is one thing but slander under the guise of being industry experts is something else. Meanwhile those who are hawking shark movies, or recent shark films with Jimmy are rising to his defense along with a small group of shark diving operators who book Jimmy's brand of cageless predator encounters-and now have egg of their faces for essentially putting their own divers at risk. As for this massive campaign set about by Wet Pixel? 600 signatures and counting, while over 18,000 negative posts on almost every major dive chatroom on the planet from divers who see cageless encounters with big predators for what it is. Maybe it's time for some serious thinking about big predator encounters, and real discussion. Lord knows, we have had enough hysteria
   comment# 28   - Jim Hawthorn · San Diego, California · Mar 14, 2008 @ 4:25pm

First of all our thoughts should go to Markus Groh's family. It is a tragic loss! I have no idea about the dive operators safety standards and that obviously comes into play. However, Markus Groh new there is a danger to diving with those types of sharks and accepted the risks that go along with it. He also accepted the risk that is inherent with diving just as I do when I dive. I have also accepted the risk of diving with with sharks when a chumsicle was put in the water. Before anyone rushes to judgment on the dangers of shark feeding dives, why don't they get statistics to back up their argument? How many dive operators are there worldwide and how many divers are there annually and how many are actually injured? My guess it is amazingly small since there are not that many shark attacks worldwide to begin with. Yet it always garners a lot of attention. As for the people who feel that shark feeding dives should be banned because of the dangers, my feelings are don't tell me what risks I should take. I am fascinated by these wonderful animals and want to have the opportunity to interact with them. I accept the risk just like Markus Groh did. I do not judge you for not wanting to take those trips and don't begrudge me of my ability to do so. If you want to jump on a safety wagon, start by cutting down all the cocunut trees, eliminate vending machines, put a ban on boiling water, cage all dogs - these kill more people than sharks do annually.
   comment# 29   - Milo1339 · Tinley Park, USa · Mar 19, 2008 @ 7:43pm

Milo1339 you are absolutely right ,you have the right to take any and all the risks that you feel like taking and I would not begrudge you for it. However when the risks or actions of others involves interactions with wild animals or has even the potential of being harmful or dangerous for other people because of these actions or risks then I believe you are stepping over the threshold of personal risk. I agree shark attacks are rare and the amount of injuries or even problems are at a minimal in the diving business.If they weren't you know we would all hear about it due to the circus styled media coverage it would attract. In my opinion many shark feeding and diving operators are more worried about fattening their wallets than safety issues or long term effects. When an injury to a diver or the wildlife occurs then it involves other people, coast gaurd, medical assistance, other divers, bystanders etc.. in many cases putting their own lives at risk to help. I also believe there hasn't been enough studies on the effects that feeding sharks has on their behaviour and interactions with humans, viewing us as a food source and seeking hand outs from all divers, swimmers, surfers etc. I know first hand when the reef sharks off the Keys hear boats they swarm around looking for their mid day snacks. Is this going to change more species behaviours towards boats and humans? I admit I don't know. Be safe!
   comment# 30   - Robert Rolin · Onalaska, Texas · Mar 20, 2008 @ 6:20pm

diver mag. just did a nice phto shoot of these beauty beasts,march issue, which has got me going to this area for another shark dive other than reef sharks. thanks for everyones input,the different points of view are helpfull..scubadave
   comment# 31   - scuba dave · belleville ont. canada · Apr 6, 2008 @ 5:05pm

Wow, that poor family. To lose a loved one due to such stupidity and trust is really senseless! We have a dive operator out here we are trying to shut down. He has been chumming and cage diving, trying to get rich. But now, even when fishers troll into the area, the sharks hear the motors and come in to get fed. We can not fish the area any more, because the sharks coming in are taking over the area, and it's not good fishing. What's to study about the chum and diving stuff? It's stupid. The sharks are not. Nothing to study, so we got to stop them already!! Besides, what's natural about that? I dive, and never feed anybody. Now that is being in their home and watching. Naturally.
   comment# 32   - Tristan · Hawaii, USA · Apr 23, 2008 @ 2:07am

It's always over publicized when an injury occurs with sharks, but if we stop to think how many people go out on these diving expeditions and safely return, and with greater understanding and respect for these creatures, I think we shall find it a loss if shark diving businesses are shut down. Especially since most of these organizations contribute a lot to scientific research while on the expeditions. I think the people going on the trip need to be more cautious and know that they are going to be swimming amongst the shark's food. It is sad to hear of this person's death, but he chose to put his life at risk by getting into the water and we cannot blame the shark diving organizations or the sharks.
   comment# 33   - Delilah Buitrago · San Diego, California , USA · Apr 30, 2008 @ 6:44pm

I am a diver and have worked the worlds oceans. I have ALWAYS been scared of sharks. They are one of the most efficient PREDATORS on the planet.
   comment# 34   - Mark Roland Koenig · Seattle, WA · May 5, 2008 @ 1:38pm

My sincere condolences to the family of Markus Groh. It is obvious to me that this intellegent individual was doing what he loved to do, and accepted the known risk of diving with these predators without a cage. There is so much information out here on the known risk involved that anyone who pursues this activity is quite knowledgeable of the risk that are incurred. I would submit that Mr. Groh was in it for the thrill and the challenge. If it hadn't happened on this particular dive charter it would have happened somewhere else. Once again we have those who want to regulate every activity in our life and quite frankly I find it appaling, deplorable at best for those who are engaged in the name calling and trashing of anyone who do not share the same ideas as these individuals. The ocean is our last unexplored frontier and if diving for sharks without a cage is your pursuit of happiness then GO FOR IT BABY. I am a Shark Hunter my boat is named the SharkMonster and will continue to pursue my love of catching and releasing SHARKS. To those of you who want to impose more regulations and are engaging in the trashing and name calling as a result of this tragic incedent I'd suggest you find a tree to hug. To everyone else, lets go find a Shark to hug.
   comment# 35   - Michael Bolin · Port Charlotte, Fl, USA · May 9, 2008 @ 3:21am

Jim has been a " hot dog " for years. Took certified kids on his boat out of West Palm 2 years ago. Kids paid for and set their computer for a NITROX mix. Guess what they got? 24% oxygen, hardly qualifies for a nitrox mix. Success without the responsibility went to his, and his wife's head. Sorry yet not expected story. Bad for the dive industry. == DM
   comment# 36   - de de · Weat Plam Beach Florida · May 27, 2008 @ 8:41pm

Yes, people do have the right to take risks - up to a certain extent, as long as the risk is managed using feasible precautions .....like oh, I don't know, a cage maybe??? Sharks are predators. And the things that attract them are not just chum, but also splashing, vibration from someone who is nervous in the water, body heat, extremely minute amounts of blood, etc. Sharks also make mistakes and take a bite out of the wrong thing occasionally. It is ignorant for people to think they are safe swimming with them - particularly after they have chummed the water. As a diver, it's one thing to happen upon a shark, BY CHANCE, and take in what you can from (and enjoy) the NATURAL experience. It is entirely different to intentionally attract them, in large numbers, with chum in the water. That is asking for trouble, and just because you've "done it before" and survived, you won't necessarily get the same results every time (Exhibit A = Groh).
   comment# 37   - JK · San Diego, CA, USA · Aug 6, 2008 @ 7:27pm

I've been on a number of trips on Jim's boats - many with Jim himself (although it's been quite a few years). Speaking personally, he gave me some of the best, most memorable dives of my life. Yes, there were sharks involved (tigers, bulls, hammerheads, and reef). Was it dangerous without a cage? I don't know, but it was certainly EXHILARATING. I've been diving all over the world, but I cherish the memories of some of those dives (in the Bahamas) more than virtually all the others of my lifetime (and not all the dives were even chummed). Most importantly, though, he didn't make me get in the water or anyone else on the boat for that matter. And, it's not as if he throws the chum in the water after everyone is in the water as some special surprise. Everyone knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it. Why do you think people go on these dives? My personal opinion? If you are a diver (an inherently dangerous sport in its own right) and can't make your own decisions regarding your own limits and your own safety, you shouldn't be diving.
   comment# 38   - Matt · District of Columbia - San Diego USA · Nov 8, 2008 @ 1:15am

I have been in the water countless days working as a diver, spear fishing or pleasure diving, many,many times with sharks close by. Two rules I have always followed are #1- No dead/dying fish in the water nearby and #2- When a bull shark shows up, get out of the water. When people disregard common sense, things like this are going to happen.
   comment# 39   - Captain Bob · Harbor Springs, USA · May 25, 2009 @ 7:10am

I've been on Jim's boat. For those of you trashing his operation, you don't know what you're talking about (or you're just making it all up). He runs a tight ship. There are safety protocals to follow and if you don't follow them then you're off the boat. But in the end it's about personal responsibility. You know exactly what you're taking part in before you sign up. If you have any doubts about your diving abilities then you don't belong on the trip (no shame in that - just common sense). This is the first time a diver lost his life on a shark diving eco trip. People die every year skiing, hiking, pleasure boating, sky diving, etc. Should we ban these activities? Of course not.
   comment# 40   - Patrick · Washington, DC · Nov 28, 2009 @ 6:32am

Now Jimmy is shilling a new shark book and is on television as a shark expert. One year after the death of one of his divers by a bull shark. Real class act.
   comment# 41   - Shark Expert · Los angeles · Feb 11, 2010 @ 9:25pm

Are we not in control of our own actions? Some of you are saying this Jimmy guy runs a crap operation, some say he runs a tight ship. Does it really matter what the food on the boat was like? You are willingly getting into the ocean with chum and sharks and no cage. I don't think this man was expecting cuddle time. It sucks that he died, but he was a grown man taking a risk, it happens. Smoke and you are likely to get lung cancer, drink and your liver is probably gonna go to s***. Some people sky dive, bungee jump, base jump, etc. You're taking your chances people. This Jimmy guy may very well be a scumbag, just remember, we all get what's comin to us eventually. I'm glad that the sharks aren't being blamed for this one! :) PUT A STOP TO FINNING!!!!!!
   comment# 42   - Doc · Altus, United States · May 9, 2010 @ 3:01pm

I am not sure why all you people think you can comment negatively on those of us that enjoy diving with sharks. It really is none of your business what we spend our hard earned money on!!! We are well aware of the dangers. No one seems to less than respectable female when hundreds of children are bitten by domestic dogs each year.(Get online and check for yourself before you disregard this statement) Don't wine because you have nothing better to do than jump on the band wagon. If your afraid of the water and sharks... stay out!!!
   comment# 43   - Sharkdiver · Reno NV USA · Jul 17, 2010 @ 1:52pm

Worst operation ever, unprofessional, complete disregard for safety regulations, divemaster jane was a complete bofoon, diving on her first dive with a number of divers without even checking her air, then as if things wern't bad enough, splitting the group up, SPLITTING UP DIVE BUDDIES, WITH NO EXPLANATION MID DIVE!!!! and jeopardizing the safety of all the nitrox divers in the group. Beware of their organization, no wonder people have died with their outfit, they had the audacity to blame it on the divers for being responsible for their own safety. SHAME ON YOU JIM, YOU THINK IT IS EVERYBODY ELSES FAULT THAT THERE ARE SAFETY ACCIDENTS ON YOUR BOAT, WHEN IN REALITY YOU HAVE COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR PEOPLE'S SAFETY, HIRING SECOND RATE CREW AND SECOND RATE DIVEMASTERS.
   comment# 44   - Don Burger · Daytna Beach · Aug 9, 2010 @ 11:28am

News Flash 2 years and 2 months later Jimmy has been bitten badly by a Tiger at Tiger Beach this morning. http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/region_c_palm_beach_county/west_palm_beach/shark-bite-victim-flown-to-west-palm-beach To all Jimmy's supporters, Eric Cheng from Wetpixel, the Shark Savers Julie and her gang, George Schellenger, and others wake up. Tigers and sharks are not pets for your personal amusement. They are predators, and Jimmy is way on the other side when it comes to shark handling. Are you going to defend him again? Let's see you try. He was an accident waiting to happen 2.2 years ago when Markus Groh was killed by a shark baited by Jimmy and he is an accident happening right now with a Tiger bite to the arm. Shame on all of you for hating on others who called it right it. Shame. The only real victim here is the shark.
   comment# 45   - Second Chance Jimmy · Jupiter , Fl · Jan 26, 2011 @ 6:11pm

I saw some big sharks on a recent dive trip in Belize. They used to chum that dive site too but no longer do as a result of this incident. I have to say I used to be petrified of sharks but seeing them im the wild has changed my opinion and made me realize that they are not the killing machines they are made out to be. Most of the comments around this incident, on this site and others, are based on fear and prejudice. By now there have been thousands of divers that have done shark dives without incident. It was unfortunate what happenned to Groh but accidents do happen.
   comment# 46   - Big Al · USA · Apr 27, 2012 @ 7:16pm

I just recently came back from a trip on this boat. It was fantastic and well organized. Let me start off with the briefing. There are definite guidelines set down that if not followed result in your being signalled back to the boat or if ignored being escorted personally back to the boat by the second saftey diver in the water. I'm a diver and fisherman. When I chum for fishing I put chunks of food in the water at intervals to attract fish. This is NOT their procedure they sent or slick the current without allowing anything edible down current. Yes this brings all manners of sharks up current to investigate. Guess what, nothing to eat. Some stay some leave. Main rule in briefing is stay out of the "shark runway" and behind (uppcurrent) and off to the side of the sealed bait container. If you find yourself downcurrent in the middle of the fish oil slick, I'd say you were personally irresponsible.and actually endangering yourself and possibly others. Everyone is in a wing position and the rule is that when a tiger, bull, or hammerhead come into view the first to see it come up the runway points And continues point until everyone knows where it is. It was safe and fantastic to see these beautiful creatures. later I watched as a diver was taken back up to the boat because he was more interested in reviewing his photos than to pay attention to a tiger in the area.Jim Abernethy told him that night in front of all he would take him back immediately to land and leave him there.
   comment# 47   - scott · wesr palm beach fl USA · Aug 10, 2013 @ 8:34pm

Was on boat in june 1996.Filthy roach infested scow.Left port with one prop.Capt.tore other prop up that night in Bahamas.Many unsafe incidents.Was not suprised to learn of fatality.Condolences to victims family.
   comment# 48   - tj · USA · Oct 18, 2013 @ 1:08pm

You know what, I'm glad all you bleeding hearts will stay away from this industry and not dive with us, we are having too much fun to have you kittens on board. This is a fact: You could get bitten on a shark dive. However, if you're being careful, working with your fellow divers, etc. there should be no reason not to. Look how many people die from Skydiving, nothing outlawed there. People take risks, period, its fun. The moral of the story is, when you die taking risks, don't less than respectable female about it after the fact, you got what you asked/paid for. My condolences to the family, but consent is consent and scat happens sometimes.
   comment# 49   - JP · Winnipeg Canada · Dec 17, 2013 @ 12:36pm

Once again, Shearwater is involved in ANOTHER shark death....http://www.kltv.com/story/26022208/east-texas-man-disappears-during-bahamas-diving-trip for details. It's time this bunch was put out of business.
   comment# 50   - Wally Moran · Canada · Jul 15, 2014 @ 5:16pm

Please sign our petition to stop Shark Rodeo Cowboys in Palm Beach County Florida! See FWC on arrest information at http://bit.ly/1hDQj6d Sign our petition here http://chn.ge/1lyxhtG Thanks, John Russell, Detective & Dive Industry Professional
   comment# 51   - John Russell · Orlando, Floida · Aug 15, 2014 @ 4:12pm

It does not surprise me that this happened. These so called "shark cowboys" are just asking for it in the long run. Some people just seem to forget that they are not your neighborhood dog or cat looking for a handout. They are wild and should be enjoyed from a safe and respectful distance.
   comment# 52   - Teresa Dibiasio · Clearwater Beach,Florida · Aug 18, 2014 @ 5:46pm
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