Scuba Shark

Taking hold of my mask and regulator in one hand, and my BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) in the other , I half-jump, half-fall into the water into Shark Alley. My first thought is that sharks will be swimming all around me. But there are no sharks, just a fair amount of stripped jacks, and a couple of groupers, along with all the other usual fish, butterfly fish, and parrot fish feeding on the algae on the coral.

Besides Mr. Grumpy Pants (a 4-foot grouper I named for being grumpy all the time) all the fish here weren’t that unfriendly. I held my BCD deflator-hose above my head, letting the air out, and descended to a depth level of 30 feet.

Right then, about 15 goat fish came after the algae in my hand that I plucked from a small rock crevice. Letting them have the algae, I waited 5 seconds. It never takes more than 5 seconds for something to happen that my sister hates and I love, the fish started regurgitating the algae. I looked up, waiting for the rest of the divers to descend. I was here, I wanted to see a shark.

Finally what seemed like hours but was only a couple seconds, we headed out on our dive. Now, I could tell you about the grouper biting my hand, seeing a White Spotted Eagle ray, and the eight foot barracuda, but that’s not why it’s called Scuba Shark. We were at a level of 44 feet and descending, plowing through a swarm of minnows, I stopped a couple of feet from under a coral ledge, when I saw a darkish grey shape in the distance, swimming about 20 feet out from the reef. Then the shape starts to take form.

Fins, a relatively-pointed snout and a black-tipped dorsal in. A black-tipped reef shark had just emerged from the blue and was swimming merely 7 feet away from us, paying us no attention. My brain was thinking, well, this is it, I now have seen a shark, wow. We are all frozen, everybody, with a leg or arm extended. I think if somebody took a picture of us, we would’ve looked quite stupid.

In a couple of seconds, the whole thing was over. It was the best thing I could hope for. But only a couple of minutes later the shark came back, except it was paying a lot more attention to us, in fact it was coming right at us. I tapped Troy our dive leader who turned around facing the shark and opened his hands all the way up at the shark. The shark didn’t spook and swim away, but slowly turned and swam away.

I thought hopefully that this would be the first of many sharks I would see. Sitting on the front of the boat I looked up towards the sky. Sharks in the movies swimming has always fascinated me, and I always loved following the sharks swimming as they went around the tank at the aquarium, but now that I’ve seen one in the wild those don’t seem as awesome as they were before. Ever since I was four I wanted to see a shark, and now I have and I just sat there wondering what my next milestone will be.

(editor: francesca.koe@deeperblue.com)