I went to Isla Guadalupe several years ago. There was one person on the boat who was petrified of sharks in general, but she figured if she could do this, then she might lessen her fear.
The first day, it was very hard to convince her to even get in the cage before the crew started chumming. Just being in the water was almost too much for her, but she did it. By the time the crew had to pull the cages out of the water and get ready to head home, she was spending the entire day in the cage.
She had gone from paralyzing terror to being respectfully awestruck by their magnificence in 3 days. On the way home, she said that her fear was due largly to the way Hollywood portrays sharks, and especially Great Whites in movies, but having seen them in real life changed her perspective forever.
First of all, thanks for sharing.
Here you are two doubts:
1) how often does a situation like this happen?
2) even if it happens often, such a scenario would change the "fear" of sharks, not the "willing to protect" them; in other words, I am not sure it would help form a conservationist point of view
Now, for me "good perception" is something like: "I will swim in the sea without fear where shark attacks are not common, and I am happy if these animals get protection". I do not really care if a person would be scared or fearful in presence of a shark, because this person will probably never meet a shark.
In my opinion, protect these creatures also mean to not disturb them, so I am not a fan of cage diving and similar. That said, I am not an expert and as such, I am ready to change my mind.