UAE: This shark-obsessed diving instructor on a mission to banish bad reputation these predators have – Khaleej Times

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Sara Gojer is proving that sharks aren’t as dangerous as you might think

By Harriet Shephard

Photos: Supplied

Photos: Supplied

Published: Sun 10 Mar 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 10 Mar 2024, 10:55 PM

Many people are fascinated by the beautiful underwater world of our oceans. But diving instructor Sara Gojer, also known as local DJ Sara G, has an unusual favourite fish: sharks.

And the bigger and allegedly deadlier the better.

Specialising in shark dives, she is on a mission to banish the bad reputation that these vital predators have.

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‘Thousands of sharks are killed every year all over the world,” she states. “Movies like Jaws have built into us a belief that they are dangerous animals who attack people at whim. It’s just not true. As long as you respect them, give them distance, and remain aware of your surroundings, it’s very unlikely that they will cause you any harm.”

Passion for shark conservation

Originating from India and a Dubai resident for the past 12 years, Sara first discovered her passion for diving around five years ago. Since then, she has completed various courses in shark conservation, qualified as a Master Scuba Diver Trainer, and become an ambassador for PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

Locally, she hosts shark dives at the National Aquarium in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Aquarium. She also organises regular dives to Fujairah, where whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, both small and harmless species, are found in abundance.

Remain calm diving with sharks

The next trip she is organising is to the Maldives to swim with tiger sharks – one of the top three most dangerous sharks in the world that can grow to over five metres long.

After trio, Sara is taking a group to South Africa to dive with bull sharks, another large and notoriously aggressively species. “I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junky,” admits Gojer.

“But the main thing with shark diving is to remain calm. The sharks can sense your energy. If you panic, you might start to kick more frantically or consume too much oxygen. If you try to relax, you’re far less likely to face any problems.”

She explains that a lot of diving companies put tiger sharks and bull sharks in cages. But she wants to do things more ethically: “When people do cage dives, they purposefully bait the sharks and rile them up for the camera. It’s like putting a dog in a cage and banging on the bars to upset it. It’s not right that people think that sharks deserve less respect than other animals.”

Show respect and don’t turn your back

Sara received her instructor training from Dubai-based PADI course director Ahmed Ramadan, who is also a shark fanatic. He inspired her love for sharks and taught her how to interact with them safely.

She says: “You should never turn your back on a shark, and it’s important to maintain eye contact with them. You should constantly scan the area around you and be aware of your surroundings.”

One of the most memorable diving trips she has organised was to the Dimaniyat Islands in Oman: “I took a big group away to dive with whale sharks for the very first time. It was incredible. They’re harmless to humans and they can grow up to 12 metres long. They give you the same feeling as standing on a giant mountain. They make you realise how tiny you are, and it’s very humbling.”

Educate people, protect sharks

To date, the most lethal sharks that Gojer has swam with are hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks at the National Aquarium.

“The sharks in the aquariums are obviously used to human interaction, but they are still real sharks and not stuffed animals. I do a thorough safety briefing with all my clients before they go into the tank, and tell them about all the different types of sharks that they are going to see,” she says.

“Sharks are a very important part of the ecosystem and they control population numbers. I want to educate people about why they deserve to be protected. Along with providing fun experiences, conservation is a huge part of what I’m trying to do.”


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