Yesterday I saw a wild video on Facebook. It showed a shark observation cage, where they were baiting the sharks next to the cages and the shark jumped out of the water to catch the bait and somehow landed on top of the shark cage, knocking the cage door open, and dropping into the shark cage with the diver. The shark fought its way out of the cage, all bloodied and banged up. You could see fear in the boat operators as they checked to see if the diver in the shark cage survived. Fortunately he did, you could tell he lost he regulator in the shuffle from the amount of air bubbles coming up, and his mask was askew. I can only imagine what took place in that cage for those long minute the shark was fighting for his life inside that cage. The good news for the diver is that the shark was much more concerned about escaping the cage then eating the diver. The diver was fine.
This reminded me of the time we went with Hawaii Shark Encounters into a cage to view Galapagos sharks off of the North Coast of Oahu, Hawaii. We have encountered sharks in the wild while Scuba diving in Mexico, Florida, Fiji, and Hawaii, but I have to say this encounter was the most interesting of all of the shark encounters for many reasons.
We were not scuba diving during this encounter. The dive boat took you out, not very far from the North Shore harbor and marina, in fact we were so close we could quickly swim to land if we had wanted to. Though I am not sure I would have wanted to in these shark infested waters.
The cages were submerged into the water. The cages were about 5′ x 5’x 4′. There was no lid, and the cage depth was only about 4 feet, so you could stand in the cage. Your head and shoulders were above water when standing in the cage. The only gear we had on was our mask and snorkel.
When you peered under the water you could see the Galapagos sharks swimming around the cages. They were clearly interested in us and had no intention of leaving, which made me speculate that the operators must feed these sharks from or near this boat as I don’t think sharks would have been particularly interested in us if this was not the case. The sharks were never baited or fed while we were in the boat or in the water.
I never felt unsafe, or like the sharks were being aggressive towards us, they were just curious. They were several large sharks and they swam around us the entire duration that we were allowed to stay in the cages, about 45 minutes. The were quite large 6′-9′ feet in size. I’m not going to lie, they were intimidating, as they reminded me of a cousin to the great white. The were very large. I would have been frightened if they would have swam near me outside of the protection of the cage. I probably would have hid behind Jeremy, husband. ha ha.
It was not easy to get a good picture because we didn’t have our scuba gear with us so we were limited in the amount of time we could hold our breath to stay under water to get a great shot.
We have had several other natural shark encounters. One of my favorite dives was on the Big Island of Hawaii where Jeremy found a cave that was full of sleeping white tip sharks, there were about 6-7 sharks laying still near the bottom of a cave. They were not large, only 4′-5′ long. Most of the other divers with us would not go near the cave. I peeked my head into the entrance, as the cave was not that deep. We didn’t stay long, as we didn’t want to disturb their slumber. Sadly, we didn’t have our camera on this dive.
The only time I have been concerned about a shark was the time we were being followed by a Tiger Shark that was known to be aggressive near the harbor on the Big Island, we were diving along a popular reef shelf near dog beach, and we could see a large tiger shark following us maybe 30 yards away. You could barely make him out, as he was deeper in the ocean and had a deep blue background, but you could see his outline and his size. We knew he was there. What felt like a few minutes later, 3 stingrays showed up and they swam between us and the shark, and the Tiger Shark went away. I felt like these sting rays were there to protect us. They stayed with us for most of the remainder of the dive. They were our dive angels. We didn’t have our camera on this dive.
Last year in Florida, while diving in Key Largo, I was towards the back of our dive group and I spotted two large black tip reef sharks circling above the reef when we were descending. I wanted to stay with them, but the dive master did not see them and was continuing onto our dive site, so I had to leave them. That was pretty spectacular. You can read more about our trip to Florida here.
Do you have a shark story to share? Where is your favorite place to dive or dive with sharks? I would live to dive with sharks in Anthony’s Key. Have you been there?
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