Monday, December 24, 2012

Caribbean reef sharks -

- they used to be my favorite sharks before I met, and fell in love with, tiger sharks. Not difficult to understand: The tigers' distinctiveness, their size, their character, and, yes, their incredible gentleness being their hall mark, starkly contrasting with their bad "press" they still get, makes them probably the most impressive and captivating of all sharks.

During the last trips to Tiger Beach we dived a fantastic near-by spot baptized "Fish Tales" by Capt. Scott Smith. 

Scott discovered the place as an alternative to Tiger Beach proper - where you will regularly find 30 to 40 of swirling Caribbean reef sharks, some tiger sharks, nurse sharks, and, if lucky, the elusive great hammerhead shark with its huge dorsal fin.

Clean, crisp, minimalistic - Caribbean reef shark at Fish Tales
Photo: Wolfgang Leander, 2011
Click to enlarge

 Caribbean reef sharks - the quintessential sharks.
Photo: Wolfgang Leander Green Turtle Cay, 2005
Click to enlarge

When I re-discovered the Caribbean reef sharks, I felt like seeing old friends again. Reef sharks were my constant and only companions when I dived the Abacos (Bahamas), mostly on my own, without any buddies. Just the sharks and me were the most memorable  moments of my life as a diver.

An old  friendship re-discovered...
Photo: Michel Lonfat, "Fish Tales" 2011
Click to enlarge 

Caribbean reefies were the shark species  -  not self-styled shark 'experts': statisticians, Swiss or non-Swiss scientists, ego-driven pseudo conservationist magazine editors or slightly (?) megalomaniac wild animal photographers, and some smart shark dive operators  -  that taught me that they, the reefies, and sharks in general, are highly intelligent creatures, perfectly developed to prevail in their environment.

I have experienced Caribbean reef sharks in almost all types of "moods" and behavioral patterns, also charging prey (wounded fish) with lightning speed, and, boys, lemme tell ya, they were not much slower than mako sharks, the fastest of them all.

Compared to tiger sharks the Caribbean reef sharks seem to be underrated. They shouldn't. Quite the contrary:  They are, along with the Galapagos sharks,  the most elegantly shaped members of the large shark family, worthy of our admiration and - why not say it? -  our reverence.

1 comment:

yancy said...

It seems clear from these findings that if sharks are "attracted" to an object in the water, this is probably because of its contrast against the surrounding water, rather than it's colour.
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