Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bulls seen from a gull's perspective

Jim Abernethy has got to be one of the sharkiest shark operators on earth. He passionately loves sharks, and he runs the by now famous trips to Tiger Beach in the Bahamas. When he is in Palm Beach in between trips, and not at home taking it easy, you can be sure to find this energetic and bubbly man high up in the air - watching sharks from above. He just can't get enough of them - no need to explain that to me.... :-)

Jim is a committed professional, and has loyal clients who would not switch operators. But he also has a new friend - me - who would not dive with him. Huh?? Say what?? Well, simple: Jim does not allow freedivers on his shark trips, and I do not have a license to scuba dive.

I tried to convince Jim to make an exception with me - he wouldn't; he tried to talk me into getting certified so I could join him - I most definitely won't dive with tanks, ever. Period. So we will not be diving together among sharks although we are both 110% shark fanatics. Too bad.... :-(

What we have done together, however, was observing schools of bull sharks in shallow water in Palm Beach. Jim very kindly invited me to a memorable flight in his ultra-light plane to do some shark watching from the lofty perspective of a gull.

To be able to identify large bull sharks against the sandy bottom from an altitude of maybe 500 - 700 ft was a truly elevating experience for a hard-core shark diver! It was most gratifying to see dozens, if not hundreds, of sharks, well and alive, knowing that they will in all likelihood live out their lives naturally, unharmed by humans.

Long live the tigers of Tiger Beach and the bulls of Palm Beach, and may the waters in both places be always as "shark infested" as I was privileged to see them, underwater and from above!

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