“Hey wanna jump into shark infested waters with me? We can hire a professional photographer. It will be amazing and magical!” – Says Julia Gordon
With skepticism in my voice I reply “Umm. Yah that sounds amazing. I think I would really enjoy that.”
Julia- “great I’m going to sign us up!”…… and so it was I had just signed myself up to go on this crazy shark dive where I had no idea what to expect.
The days leading up to the dive I told my parents and friends what I had just so easily volunteered to do with my friend Julia. They all thought we were completely crazy… not gunna lie at some point during the week I stopped and thought about what the hell I just signed up for. With no direction other than we are going to do a baited shark dive with Jim Abernathy where He said “we may encounter Lemon sharks…dont worry their like puppies!!! I thought to myself “puppies! ok so those ones are cool.” Then they proceeded to say and maybe a Tiger Shark, more than likely some Bull Sharks , and in the case we are really lucky a GREAT Hammer Head will roll through.”
I don’t know if it was the excitement of not knowing what was going to happen or the reactions of peoples faces when I told them what I was doing, but something inside me sparked. All I thought about were sharks for the next couple of days. I wanted to know more about them. Educate myself on the top predator that has been roaming our ocean for over 450 million years.
Finally the day came! Monday August 7th, 2017. The beginning of a love I will now have forever for these mystical animals. We got up at the crack of dawn to get to the boat dock by 8 am. We loaded our stuff on the boat, got all our equipment hooked up, computers set….oh god! Don’t get me started on the computers. I know this is bad as I am a search and rescue diver but damn! The computers get me every time. The engine started and the boat took off. The first dive we did was a nice and easy 80 ft. sunken ship known as the Mizpah. Its Goalith Grouper season So there were a ton of them. They make this loud thumping sound, which is kinda funny to hear underwater. We came back up had a 1 hour surface interval that was accompanied by an amazing vegan burger (it doesn’t get much better than that, diving in an underwater kaleidoscope followed by vegan burgers). Woohoo! We set up for our second dive…. THE SHARK DIVE.
During the period of preperation for our second dive Jim gave us a briefing about what we may see and how we are all gunna set up with negative weight on the bottom and once the sharks come we will take a swim with them. At this point nerves started to kick in but I was still really excited to come in close contact with these animals. The surface interval came to an end, the bait had been planted at the bottom of the ocean, we had geared up, and the boat had set us up. As the captain screamed “DIVE DIVE DIVE” we all entered into the blue abyss where sound is muffled and you could only hear your own breath. We began our descent. Once we hit the bottom, we formed a beautiful diagonal line. Me being on the end closest to the “runway” where our super models were going to strut on down making their grand debut and Julia on the other end. The lemons came. And what do you know! They are like puppies. They swam right up to us. We got to touch one that came very close. Then we took off to swim with them.
During the swim you could see how they refrain from moving fast conserving their energy until they could get their next meal. Their muscles glistened in the water. That is something the camera doesn’t capture so well. They were perfect. Our friend decided to hangout with us, swim with us, teach us, and just be present with us. They were curious as to what we were but they weren’t the least bit interested in us. We saw one that had a huge hook in its mouth and all I wanted to do was reach over in hopes he would let us help him but while we were swimming they kept their distance just sharing the space with us. It was a magical experience and a very educational one. I encourage everyone to learn about sharks and just maybe you’ll be lucky and have a magical experience with them.
On a side note, seeing first hand how we are destroying what we need to survive saddens me. Without these animals our oceans wouldn’t thrive. They would die off. We are choosing to extinct ourselves. If the ocean dies, so do we. These creatures are harmless yet provide so much for us. We think of what we see on TV like JAWS and it scares everyone on land to death to think about swimming along side these beauties. But let me tell you, they are the definition of a perfect predator and if you are lucky enough to encounter them you will know just how perfect they are. Hopefully we can better educate people on sharks and our ocean in hopes to stop shark finning or eliminating pollution and plastic from our ocean. So get out there and spread the word!