Tuesday, December 03, 2013

"Smiley" - the rising star of Tiger Beach.

With about 10-11 ft in length, she might not be fully grown but she is definitely an adult tiger shark who commands respect; she is serene and inquisitive; and above all she is most graceful, beautiful, and absolutely lovable. 

When she looks at you, as she does in the above image, you will be completely mesmerized by her striking facial expression. She has what we call in German a "Charakterkopf" (literally: 'character head').

It is impossible not to recognize her because her lower jaw has been disfigured while on an angler's hook.

She is "Smiley".

It is also hardly impossible not to meet "Smiley" at her beach. As soon as a dive boat anchors in the Tiger Beach area, you could almost bet that she will be on the spot sooner or later, mostly sooner. This year, I haven't missed her not even one single day.

I met "Smiley" back in November 2008 for the first time when she looked pretty much like any other female tiger shark. It was, however, not difficult to identify her even then  by the prominent dark spots on her belly and the inside of her pectoral fins. 

You could tell that "Smiley" was quite confident in the presence of divers. She never displayed any type of boldness, let alone aggressiveness. She was what tiger sharks generally are: Curious and gentle. When I say 'curious' I don't mean what a lot of even so-called experienced shark divers stupidly claim, namely that sharks always look at you to check out "whether you are prey".

The first year after she was hooked and mutilated in the process, "Smiley"  was extremely wary of divers - as if she related her trauma to humans. Fortunately, she eventually regained her confidence in divers. Her being hand-fed by the crew members of the "Dolphin Dream" might have also contributed to winning back her trust in 'humanity', as it were...

The large shark in the upper right side is "Smiley" approaching one of the hand-feeders.

Who knows, "Smiley" might be related to famous "Emma" -  I wouldn't be surprised as both dignified ladies have a lot in common. What I can say with certainty, though, is that "Smiley" is definitely on her way to becoming the new star of Tiger Beach. 

This is not the first time I wrote about "Smiley" - have a look at the blog I posted back in November 2011.

At any rate, this is a propitious opportunity to wish "Smiley" and "Emma", and all their relatives and friends, a long and happy shark life.

Here are a few images of "Smiley" taken before she got that distinguishing smile on her face....

All photographs by Wolfgang Leander

Click to enlarge

1 comment:

spinich said...

How are you ? It's Takako here.

I am enjoying your photo !! All of your pictures are so nice.

I would like to copy your photo which was from surface one if possible..

Best regards