Before I arrived in Shanghai to visit my family who was stationed there for work, I looked online to see if there was anything that I really wanted to see or do. I was shocked when I found the opportunity to dive with the sharks at Changfeng Ocean World.
It was a little hard to get details about the dive but after digging, I found more information. For 800 yuan or $125, I could dive with the sharks in the aquarium for an hour. It was a completely unique experience and I was sold. I contacted Big Blue Scuba Diving to set up my dive time. After a few back and forth emails I was booked.
The Paperwork Process
The law is a lot more lenient in China than it is in the US so my paperwork was pretty comical. I did not have to sign any waivers or show proof of my scuba certification. All I had to do was provide the cash and was good to go in their minds.
The Experience of Diving with the Sharks
After I paid, I was escorted back to the changing room where I changed into my suit and put on my wetsuit. Then I went to the tank where I put on the rest of my diving gear. After a 2 minute tutorial with the guide, mostly just telling me to keep my hands at my side so the sharks don’t think it is food, I was diving down to shark level.
Going into the tank for the first time was kind of crazy. You expect that sharks are going to be big, but when you are in such close proximity of them you realize that they are massive animals. The teeth that the shark had were ridiculous. It just shows why they are at the top of the food chain in the ocean – they could easily tear any predator to shreds in mere seconds.
The funniest part of my dive is that the majority of it was spent chasing the sharks, turtles and stingrays around the tank. They had absolutely no interest in me whatsoever. I assume that is because they have been in captivity for quite some time and were used to people diving in the tank.
Since the tank is visible to visitors at the aquarium, my family was taking pictures of me as I dove. Before I went in my aunt jokingly asked me what they should do if a shark attacks me… continue to take pictures or call for help? Some of the visitors who were not aware of the diving experience that the aquarium offered were quite confused about what I was doing in the tank with all of the sharks and why my family was following me around snapping pictures like the paparazzi.
I got a few good pictures which look a lot crazier than the experience actually was. Everything was a tourist version of diving with sharks. You are in an aquarium with well fed sharks and the animals are not wild.
While I was a little nervous about the possibility of something happening to me when I was diving, I figured that all of the animals were likely fed right before my dive. The last thing that the aquarium would want is for anything to happen to one of the divers.
While the tank was well maintained, it is always sad to me to see animals in captivity – especially when there are a lot of large animals in a small enclosure as there were at the aquarium.
If you are into diving and visiting the Shanghai area, I would absolutely check it out. As far as scuba diving goes, the price is reasonable and the unique experience is worth it.