Friday, April 11, 2008

Fear (less)

Over a time period of about three months I was completely undecided about coming to South Africa to dive with the tigers. On one hand (and being completely honest) I was afraid. On the other hand I did not want to miss the opportunity of a lifetime to interact with these sharks.

Last night I was up until 3AM thinking about what to expect today, talking to my dad trying to clear my mind of all "negative" thoughts (don't mean to sound dramatic).

With only about three hours of sleep, I made my way to the launch site. Getting out to the site is half the fun - boat needs to clear breakers crashing into the beach - I guess it was the closest thing I ever felt to being a Navy SEAL. Upon arrival my dad and Steve (Blue Wilderness Team) went in first, I followed only to be disappointed by the visibility. First two sharks to show up were black fins. My eyes were scanning the whole time for the big ones - nothing.

So we moved to another location and from topside we saw the first tiger on the bait. Again, Steve and Wolf went in first followed by Russel and then me. At first I was cautious, holding on to my dad and observing the majestic animals - truly amazing. As I watched the others interact with the sharks, it became apparent that I had worried for nothing, but I was still apprehensive to interact. Then, without choice, I had to - one large shark (14ft) approached me head on, I slowly moved her out of the way by pushing down her head.

About 2 mins later I was riding my first tiger shark
(Steve took a picture which I will upload soon) - it is impossible to explain the feeling. While some say it is a rush, I say it is being in a state of nirvana - complete harmony with the ocean. While I would never claim that sharks are harmless (as any wild animal - have you ever had a turtle snap at you?), I would describe them as curious, intelligent, aware, relaxed, and confident.

Tomorrow we go out again - cannot wait.

On a sad note, there are rumors that numerous tiger sharks have been killed in Tiger Beach, The Bahamas. Apparently one fly fisherman (would love to know his name) killed a 15ft tiger just for fun. You would think the media, people, government authorities would be outraged - recall the reaction people had when a diver was bitten a few months ago in the Bahamas...

1 comment:

Lester said...

Great write up, Felix! Your nerves serve you well.. Better to be overly cautious than fearlessly assertive. Can't wait for the photos!