FREEPORT, Bahamas -- In 1975, the familiar theme music from "Jaws" was heard in movie theaters across the U.S. Many swimmers did not venture far off their beach blankets that summer as a result. Ironically, at about the same time, the vacation community of Stella Maris on Long Island, Bahamas, introduced an activity that has become one of the island chain's most popular offerings -- shark diving.

For many local operators on Grand Bahama Island, sharks aren't scary. In fact, they are good for business. And despite two shark attacks off Grand Bahama last summer, these companies continue to promote shark diving plans to clients, offering agents commissions of 10% or higher.

Shark diving remains one of the Bahamas' most popular dive excursions, even after recent attacks. Neal Watson's Undersea Adventures, which operates five dive franchises in the Bahamas, has three facilities that offer shark diving. They are the Nassau Scuba Centre in Nassau, Xanadu Undersea Adventures in Freeport and Walker's Cay Undersea Adventures in Abaco.

The firm also has dive centers at Scuba Bimini Dive Center in Bimini and Andros Undersea Adventures in Andros. Xanadu Undersea Adventures offers shark diving Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. A one-dive plan costs $72; a two-dive plan is $101.

In the last 27 years, The Underwater Explorers Society (Unexso), operating out of Port Lucaya, has taken about 50,000 participants to meet the toothy fish. Unexso offers shark dives to Shark Junction, a site off Grand Bahama Island. Its Shark Dive program, which runs seven days a week, costs $85 per person with a maximum of 16 divers on each trip.

Grand Bahama Scuba offers at least one dive each day in known shark territory. For instance, on the second dive of a two-dive morning, divers are taken to a site where sharks are known to swim. The two-dive trip costs $65; a separate dive in late afternoon is priced at $35. For those afraid of the creatures, Grand Bahama Scuba offers an introductory dive trip in which the company guarantees a refund if the divers do see a shark.

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