Divers understand better than most how sharks have been misrepresented in popular culture. Sharks are not, as they are sometimes perceived, a serious threat to people. In fact, a sighting of these majestic creatures can become the highlight of a diver’s logbook. Unfortunately, sharks are in trouble. The number of human fatalities caused by sharks around the world each year can often be counted on one hand, but it’s estimated that people kill around 100 million sharks annually. By taking the AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty course, you will learn more about sharks and the actions you can take to help protect them.


As a conservation-focused specialty, the greatest benefits of the AWARE Shark Conservation course are not for divers but for the sharks themselves. By educating yourself about sharks, the important roles they play in marine environments, and the global threats causing staggering population declines in recent years, you’ll be better prepared to help protect sharks and the places where they live. Depending on where you take the specialty, you may also have the chance to dive with sharks during the open-water portion of the class. In the Bahamas, for example, that could mean diving with Caribbean reef and nurse sharks, and a thrilling opportunity to observe and apply what you’ve learned about sharks on your dives. 

What You’ll Learn

The knowledge-development portion of the AWARE Shark Conservation course offers a look at the biology and behavior of sharks, along with an overview of the many threats sharks face around the world. You’ll also learn how to become a shark ambassador, helping to change perceptions among friends and family and advocating for the protection of these creatures.  

The specialty includes two open-water shark observation dives, and the first dive can also count as an Adventure Dive toward your PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification. Any certified diver age 12 and up can take the AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty. The academic portion of the course is also open to non-divers.

hammerhead shark dive

By: Travis Marshall

Travis Marshall is a Los Angeles based writer and diver covering scuba diving training and travel. This article originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Scuba Diving magazine.

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