3 km away from
15 feet below I see my first Black Tip ocean shark gracefully swim past my mask view. My breath is heavy and stressed, but my mind is relaxed and my body awkwardly tight. Hands held close to my chest, my lower back tenses together and my calves cramp, this is how I'm suppose to swim and observe. Relax.
From the frames of my mask, the sharks resemble diamond-shaped ribbons of mass, cutting through the water in a confident and ancient manner.
I lower my face under and see another shark with 3 remora clung near the dorsal fin like a wedge of orange under a peel. Fascinating...this is all really happening! No barriers, no threats, fear hypnotically on pause while positive excitement rushes through to my fins.
Dead sardines are being thrown off the boat like seeds for pigeons to come to near a park bench. Black Tip sharks come flying past. There are 3, 4, 5 just a hand stretch away, eating and feasting in the chum-flavoured waters.
The sardine meal placed me next to the guests of honor. Was I too close as an invited guest?
The movement of the Black Tip sharks was sexy and graceful, and around food; fast, rapid and unpredictable.
They came to eat what was offered and just wove through the marine traffic of divers in order to get to their food.
The increase of shark bait was crowding the waters...I felt in their way and in their element as they moved in rapid speed. The space between us made my heart beat faster in response to the reality of what was really happening: Swimming with sharks. Laugh or Cry?
I was ready to come in, the sardine buffet was over-indulgent and I wanted another view. The surfacing dorsals jumped back and forth across the top of the choppy waters. The image of the fin and shadow of their profile no longer held a great fear, but an excitement of witnessing the actual experience.
My perspective of sharks has undoubtedly begun to change. Respecting the sharks place in the marine eco-system is one of the major steps to realizing the importance of co-existence with these smooth and beautifully diverse species of our Earth. There is no reason to be their predator and they aren't interested in being ours.
Crashing back to sand, leaves my mind racing with more and more questions about sharks.
Myths from the surface of land and water can breed fear and misunderstanding, but observing realities underneath can cultivate roots of awareness and a quest to understand more of our intricate world.
So as we identify our journey to educate ourselves and others, the need to conserve and preserve our world becomes magnified.
http://www.sharksavers.org http://seashepherd.org/ http://www.aoca.org.za/index.php