Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Thoughts about Diving with Sharks


You may wonder about diving with schools of sharks...diving without a cage...while chumming the water with chunks of bloody fish and meat.

Most of the sharks I have met have been fairly docile...a beautiful twelve-foot silver hammerhead swimming past like an alien lifeform in clear water in a deep coral canyon...or a sleeping nurse shark under a ledge on the mysterious Bimini Road.

Mrs. Phred and I did a shark dive far from land in the Bahamas a few years ago. We were on a week long sailboat dive trip with Blackbeard's Cruises. Our fellow passengers were the entire membership of the Black Scuba Diver's Association of America and a fat Jewish attorney named Ron. Ron was a bankruptcy attorney who made TV commercials standing nude in a wooden barrel. I remember someone talking about Jewfish and one of the passengers quipping, "That's the one that comes around to collect the rent". There were racial tensions. Mine stemmed from a lack of respect for my Pink Floyd cassettes from the other passengers.

We all went down and fed about 20 circling blacktip reef sharks with chunks of bloody barracuda on a stick. They swam past and grabbed a chunk. A big grouper joined the pack.

On another trip someone speared a grouper up current down in the Cay Sal Banks off Havana. The local sharks becames very agitated. Their droopy fins stood suddenly erect and they began darting about, One darted right up to my chest and I pulled my dive knife, prepared to fight it out. It left, deciding I didn't look edible. My dive buddies had headed for the boat and ladder like a shot, leaving me to deal with the sharks.

Most sharks turn and run when you swim toward them to get a picture.

Today I told Mrs. Phred that we will take a tourniquet with us on our next shark dive. That’s an often overlooked piece of useful dive gear. You don’t want to have them bite though an artery and then have to take ten minutes to swim back to the boat to stop the bleeding like the Austrian lawyer that bled to death this week...

But then, to be truthful, some types of sharks are more docile...I’d recommend avoiding Great Whites, Makos, Tigers and Bull sharks when swimming with bloody chunks of meat and fish. Blacktips, Silkies and Nurse sharks are much easier to get along with. You have to sneak up and pull on a Nurse Shark's tail to get it to actually turn around and bite.

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