I’m not quite sure when I decided that I was going to do a Shark Dive, but once I got the idea in my head there was no stopping me. We went through Beqa Adventure Divers- a business that considers themselves a marine protection agency rather than a diving company. Before they arrived the reef was dead and the sharks had almost all been fished out and sold for shark fin soup. It wasn’t until the divers and marine scientists came along and figured out that people would pay twice as much to see the sharks rather than eat them. So not only are they making money, but they are saving the reef as well (see… the economy and the environment CAN work together!).
The night before I couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning all I could think about was ‘what have I gotten myself into….’
When we arrived in Pacific Harbor for the dive and hopped on the boat, I started to feel a pit in my stomach. And oh was the scene set! Massive dark clouds roared above us and the trip out to the dive site was a rocky one. Large waves surrounded our boat and I felt like I was in the part of Wolf of Wall Street where their yacht is completely obliterated by the storm.
Don’t be fooled by my smile
When we arrived at the spot everyone joked that I was going to be the first in the water because I was closest to the door. Oh HELL NO. I was not going to be the test dummy to see if the sharks were biting today. I let a few people go in front of me and then finally got in.
Nervously swimming in circles and trying not to look down, we waited for the rest of the group to get in until our instructor gave us the cue to go down. I let all the air out of my vest and while all the other divers started to sink, I just floated there. Not more than ten seconds later I looked down and everyone had become blurry figures in the water, besides the one other diver next to me who was also having trouble descending. Looking down again I saw one of the instructors coming back up- ‘whew’ I thought to myself. But instead of grabbing me- the poor little girl floating in the shark infested waters- he grabbed the guy next to me and pulled him down. And there I was, all by myself, not really sure what to do. At first I panicked a little, but then I took a deep breath and flipped myself over and started to swim downward, blindly following remnants of bubbles in hopes of finding the group. Once I caught up to everyone I was glad I was able to manage my way down because the instructor clearly had no intent on coming back for me.
After we were all situated 30 meters below the surface kneeling on the ocean floor, the sharks started to appear. At first there were just a few, but as each second passed more and more kept appearing from the shadows. I was nervous, yes, but it was such an amazing sight being surrounded by 50+ bull sharks.
They got so close you could reach your arm out and touch them- which one of my friends inadvertently did. The instructors warn you before the dive to keep your hands close to your side and not to reach your go-pro’s out, because the sharks will think your giving them food. My friend however must have forgotten and extended his arm to take a selfie or whatnot, and a shark whipped around and headed straight at him. You can’t see it in the picture below, but I was clinging to his scuba tank.
The second half of our first dive was at 10 meters below the surface where they fed the reef sharks- I could breath again. These sharks were friendlier and would slide between your arms and circle around your waist. Honestly though I was entranced by the amount of fish there were. They would hit your goggles and bounce back and they almost made it hard to see.
Our second dive was at 15 meters, and this time we were told to lay on our stomachs. Where we were laying dropped off a couple feet so we were eye to eye with the sharks swimming right in front of us. However this time instead of feeding the sharks about 10 meters away, they fed them only feet from us. Once they were done with that portion, they actually dragged the food above the line of divers. This was definitely the scariest part for me and I was trying to cling to the ground and make myself as small as possible. But being able to look up and see all of the sharks swimming above our heads was a spectacular site.
Although I don’t see anymore shark dives for me in the near future, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Ranked one of the best shark dives in the world I’m so happy I had the opportunity to go!