WOW. As I wait to receive the images from yesterday’s dives, at “Ray of Hope”, I sit and reflect with awe at these magnificent creatures. Never have I felt such a sense of amazement like this. Never. Unlike “swimming with the dolphins”, the instruction is very specific and methodic. No movement. None. No touching, No reaching, No passing of cameras. Nothing. Sit, observe and be amazed. And we were. I couldn’t count the number of sharks that became present as Terrie brought down the cage of grouper heads. Both she and Seb (photographer/Master Diver) were dressed in full chain mail! But rightfully so as they would be the ones in close contact.They knew we were coming and that the show was about to begin. One by one, Terrie (who was just a few feet from us and our small group of eight) would reach into the cage with a small hook and spear one of the grouper heads and pull it out while the sharks circled and waited. Then they all swooped in and jockied for position while we sat hanging on to the railing of the wreck. Several times (as many as 6) I was run into by various sharks. My shoulders, my head…even a glancing blow to my mask. It was really pretty cool to be so close and have them brush by. I must say that at no time did I ever not feel safe.
I should back up just a bit to let you know that they didn’t just throw us down there to the sharks. Our first dive was actually more of a “test” run for us to warm up to the idea of being in and amongst all the sharks. Because we were a small group they opted to let us do the feeding right on the deck of this 120+ foot wreck. This ship was at a depth of 35 ft to the deck and 70 ft to the sand. When I first hopped into the water and grabbed a hold of the line I stuck my face in and looked down and my heart immediately began to race. Not out of fear but more of excitement! I could see the sharks and the wreck as if they were just beyond my fins. The visibility was outstanding! I waited for Anne (she and I were ‘buddies’) and we headed down the line. First, we all descended to the deck of the bow and gathered as a group then swam off to check out the wreck. Keep in mind that at this moment we are swimming around with sharks and countless fish. Immediately, Terrie spotted a GIANT stingray so we all swam over, watched and waited for it to lift itself from a thin layer of sand and float off…it was a sight to behold! Then we roamed around the ship, in and out, and met back up on the deck…bottom time, about 35-40 minutes..it goes so fast! 3 minute safety stop at about 15 ft then back to the boat.
Then, like golf, we sit around (with our wetsuits undone to our waists) and talk about our dive! “Did you see the….?” For about 30 minutes we rest and switch tanks and get the briefing on the actual “feeding” of the sharks…what to do and what NOT to do (as I wrote earlier). Altho’ I alerted my bank to the fact that I would be here before I came down, I ran into a bit of a glitch when ordering some digital files from our dives and am waiting for them to work that out. As soon as I get the images you can be certain that all 4 of us will be changing our profile pic and I’ll be uploading them and adding them to the photo album of this trip!
This was an amazing experience and I recommend it highly! This was no “show”, no “circus act”, nothing rehearsed, just wild, reef sharks, in their element…we just got to watch. Truly awesome.