Our business was not on land however, for this was one of only three places in the world where Great White Sharks could be found dependably. The cost for the five day trip wasn't cheap, but rife with potential. A charge filled the air, mixing with the strains of Bob Marley over the (surprisingly good) sound system as we made preparations to anchor 3/4 of a mile offshore. The excitement was palpable. The cage on our aft deck, in contrast, stood stoic and mute, waiting for the chance to play its part. We wasted no time in making that so.
Water transforms even inanimate things. Buoyed by floats and tied to the boat by multiple lines, our metal sanctuary floated and bobbed, barely under the surface in the crystal clear water, joyously clumsy like a Great Dane... as if to say, "Come on! What are you waiting for"? Having done more than a few dives with other species of sharks, I knew though that this was not yet the time to get into the water. I watched as a crewman began the laborious process of ladling chum into the water. Red life-giving fluid poured into the ocean to drift off with the current. Gargantuan tuna heads were tied to lines and left to float not far from the boat.
I headed to the galley for something to eat. Flavia (see preceding post) was there and ready to serve.
Jesse (right), the Divemaster, was there as well and wanted to talk about sharks. I must have been in heaven.
Less than two hours later, much to my surprise, there was a sighting. We began to gear up and a few minutes later were in the cages and scanning eagerly around. Although our bodies were only a few feet under the water, we knew we weren't on our home turf anymore. The Landlord had come to say hello. Materializing silently out of nothing she was there. Just like that... and hungry for tuna. She gave the cages not the slightest notice, but instead made a sedate, if focused, approach to the severed head with its blankly staring eyes. 15 feet if an inch, the Landlord was close to chomping down on the tuna, her toothy jaws agape, when the crewmember tending the line (the Wrangler) pulled in toward the cages in an attempt to lure "Senorita Big" closer. It worked. What a magnificent and awe-inspiring sight. I could have touched her. The black, soulless eyes glanced at me for a moment... through me... taking my measure in a mere instant. In the face of such overwhelming size and power how could one feel anything but insignificant and tiny?
Thank goodness for the cage. Wrapped around me with its mothering embrace, it emboldened and reassured me. I leaned a little further out of the enclosure and thrust my underwater housing closer to the Landlord. Almost grazing her as she glided powerfully past, I was thankful for the wide angle lens on my video camera. I needed every bit of it and more. What power and majesty.
This then was what the past twenty years of my life underwater had been leading me to. I "got" it. I understood. Hard to explain, but I understood. Only one problem now, today, as I write this... I need more. I need a fix.
Such a powerful habit to have developed after only one outing...
Where's my dealer?
Forgive the pictures not being tac sharp, but they're screen caps of the video footage, much of which is broadcast quality (which I'm terrifically happy about). Thanks for sharing a bit of my journey!