I wished there were signals underwater for me to tell you that I have encountered far more dangerous creatures on dry land, and they all bore sharper teeth, and had bloodier mouths and pricklier tongues, so this is considered mild.
As a child, the word “shark” evoked only images of deadly sharp teeth and a wide open bloodied mouth. Then scuba diving happened and I met them, though till today only mainly reef sharks and none other of its more unique or larger relations. Believing in the cardinal rule of diving – PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB – I have pretty much left them alone, hoping that they would leave me alone too. Well, that was before the days of my underwater photography ambitions and before I became a shark hunting fiend. Okay, so “fiend” might be a little dramatic, but suffice to say that I hoped each dive would bring me closer to sharks for that one great picture.
And this is where a good buddy comes in. On my last dive trip to Phi Phi, Thailand, I had Fran, a dive instructor, as my buddy, and he was a serious sort of a fellow both above and under water when it comes to safety (rightly so).
On our second day together, we went out to Maya Nui dive site optimistically to look for black tip sharks after an unsuccessful mission out at Hin Klai. A family of black tip sharks had been spotted in the shallower depths of the reef there recently.
Our plan was to descent to 15m and circle around the rich coral life there as we make our way up to the sandy coves at 7m where the sharks might be resting. We followed the plan, and lady luck was with us. Three black tip sharks were playing in the sand more than 8m away.
I tried to swim closer to them, but I failed to move a foot. A great force was holding me back, and I thought I had caught a coral – dreads! It turned out Fran had grabbed my tank, and was now signalling me to wait and slow down. “But Fran, come on, I need this shot, we can hardly see anything here. Don’t you get it?”
But… just like any good diver (ahem that I was), I hovered back with Fran and grabbed whatever pictures I could with my novice skills.
So we saw them (from a distance, sigh sigh), and then after a few minutes, they finally saw us as other divers had approached, and gently moved away. We trailed them for a bit before losing sight of them completely in bad visibility.
You can see these are not fantastic captures, but who cares right – we saw sharks!!! And there is after all this side of Fran when he is not so serious.
One last whine – why oh why couldn’t you have let me get up close and personal with them sharks, as you did with these yellow fusiliers?
Grateful for safe distances. Thank you, Fran, for the great experience, even though I secretly wanted to choke you. I wished there were signals underwater for me to tell you that I have encountered far more dangerous creatures on dry land, and they all bore sharper teeth, and had bloodier mouths and pricklier tongues, so this is considered mild.