My sister has a long-standing tradition of watching Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. I don’t understand the attraction but I can appreciate the dedication to a tradition. A segment was dedicated to black tipped reef sharks which reminded me of time that I … ACTUALLY SWAM WITH SHARKS?! LITERALLY!?
When I was married a long, long time ago, my wife and I had a tradition of traveling once a year. In October 2006 … we traveled to the Bahamas. The hotel choice was the Atlantis Resort prior to all of their additions, etc. As a resort in a tourist destination, they offered kick-ass excursions.
Powerboat Adventures offered the best of all of theirs … Exuma Cay.
- Your Own Private Island
- Shark & Stingray Experiences
- Our Famous Exuma Piggies!
- Stunning Beach
- Huge Fresh Cooked Lunch
- Bahamian Conch Salad Show
- Open Bar – ALL FREE, ALL DAY!
You had me at OPEN BAR. Regardless, as pictured, the powerful boat whisked about 15-20 passengers out to their as-advertised private island. We swung by Iguana Island, which I was convinced this was (is) the breeding ground for Godzilla (yes, I know that the “actual” place was in the Pacific)
A few minutes after disembarking, the company suggested the stingray feeding. I was brave enough for that action, so I participated while my wife watched.
Next, they feed us a wonderful on-spot-prepared lunch while we were still drinking from the open bar. But the “main show” was to witness a shark wrangler feed black tipped reef sharks!!
I honestly had no idea how that was gonna be facilitated. One of the “expendable” guides, dragged out from the beach into knee-high water with a chain, and at the end was a large fish head (assumed it was a grouper)
It wasn’t long before a shark or two wandered up. Then a brave or hungry shark clamped down HARD on his bait. With his massive build, the shark wrangler started to sway the chain in a back and forth action like a tug-of-war with a dog and bone!
And this guy managed to wrestle away the grouper head from the shark. Then he lift it above the water line about 2 feet so that the shark would launch up in the shallow water to bite it! This would never be OSHA approved.
He finally fed them with his hands (see below)
After feeding those sharks, the company offered the impossible: swim with the very sharks that were fed! With a whispered, you only live once, I accepted their offer along with a dozen or so others. The guide demonstrates to wear a life jacket even though he isn’t wearing one himself.
He instructs us to not fight the current but travel with it. There was a point-of-no-return which would literally carry you out to the Atlantic Ocean and open water. AVOID that, he says flatly.
My wife knows I’m not a strong swimmer, but doesn’t object. Perhaps she was trying to kill me then as well as later? I don a life vest like an oversized orange shark bobber. I’m an idiot. Also added fins to my feet to aide in swimming like a 40-lb fawking anvil.
One guide leads us while another follows up the rear to make sure all the tourist are herded the correct direction. They explain the sharks are satiated so they are not interested in eating / biting you. Yeah, right!
I settled in about midpack so I can see and keep in touch with the leader yet see the rear being cattled along.
ALL was good. I was taking underwater photos with a disposable camera. The reef to my left, and open water to my right was a grip disconcerting … the seascape was beautiful! All the colors of the rainbow was represented there.
The sharks started to swim amongst us! Like an underwater freeway, the ocean current carried humans, fish, seahorses, and SHARKS. Then it happened. I pissed myself because a shark on my right about the 1 o’clock position and 20 feet away took an unexpected U-turn!
As he and I were playing “chicken” like a scene straight out of the 1984 hit, Footloose. I was Chuck in this recreation, though. As I banked myself to the left, and the ‘Ren’ shark glided by, I looked into that one eye.
I continued to watch behind me as scared swimmers darted out of the way of the ONCOMING SHARK. Next the damnable thing performed another U-turn in the middle of the crowd causing even more chaos! Finally, it settled down in a straight line all the way to the outside of the current and pointing towards the way everyone and everything was going.
I looked forward, and witnessed the guide and the others angle themselves left towards the beach. I was relieved as I casually swam with the crowd. Once I reached the beach, I thought that’ll be the first, last and only time I’ll swim with sharks.
I’ll stick to the corporate, suit-wearing, lawyer-like sharks thank you very much.
Would you swim with sharks if given the opportunity? Or just enjoy the yearly #SharkWeek like my sister?
‘los with the most