Shark Week on the Discovery Channel is almost one long advertisement for Stuart Cove at the western end of New Providence in The Bahamas. The popular tourist attraction has hosted dozens of celebrities (Matt Damon, Tom Hanks, Mike Rowe, Prince Harry) and been used as the set for many movies (Casino Royale, Wet Gold, Deep Blue Sea), T.V shows (Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs) and commercials (Gillete, Lincoln Financial, Kikoman Soy Sauce). So, when I decided I’d spend my birthday snorkeling with sharks, I went with the experts.
There are two snorkeling expeditions daily, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. On each trip the boat stops at three sites, and allows passengers to get in the water and observe the denizens. The last site is where the real excitement begins.
Before we get in with the sharks, the dive master issues the following instructions.
No jumping from the boat
No splashing while in the water
No touching of the animals. The reason is simple, an outstretched hand looks like an outstretched fish, and to a Caribbean Reef Shark that’s a reason to bite. A bite from an 8 to 12 ft shark is not the kind of souvenir that most tourists want to carry back.
A bait box is hung from the side of the boat at a depth of 30 feet. A buoy with a length of rope is thrown out and secured to the boat. One by one the snorkelers slide into the water as quietly as possible while holding the rope.
Below us the sharks swarm around the bait box but being naturally curious creatures they come closer to inspect us at the surface.
Sharks are beautiful animals. Not the insanely cuddly look of koalas or kittens, nor the calm power of tigers, neither the vibrant colourations of reef fish or even the sleek friendliness of the dolphins. They are beautiful in the same way that Japanese swords are beautiful.
To see more photos visit my Flickr page HERE.
Anyone observing a shark whether on T.V or in person can only marvel at their purity of purpose. Skin an inch thick that can be used as sandpaper, rows of sharp teeth and the ability to smell a drop of blood in an Olympic sized swimming pool, it is clear that these animals are the top predators of their environment. Because of their thick skin and lack of hands, the only way for sharks to explore their environment is by biting. Something the do well. Everyone should be mindful of the fact that to step into the water with these animals is a step down the food chain. I’m proud to say that sharks are a protected species here in The Bahamas.
During the dive I had a shark swim between my legs (I opened them like a cheap ho, when it swam towards me) which was a life altering experience. I always spend my birthdays snorkelling or enjoying some other activity in the water. This birthday was even better because of the sharks.
The second part of the vacation was no less spectacular when I went to the
Cat Island Regatta
Cat Island is another island in the Bahamian Archipelago. A regatta is a boat race. The boat race is secondary. Most people go to regattas to dance, drink, laugh, watch live performances, hang out and hook up.
We spent four days at Fernandez Bay which is a boutique resort that has a series of bungalows. The rooms have no T.V’s. no radios, and no internet. If you can’t separate yourself from such amenities don’t go.
Other than that it was unbelievable, breathtaking and calming all at once. I snorkeled in the bay and slept comfortably in the air-conditioned bedroom.
Finally, I made $300 as a staff writer for another blog. Total amount of time spent earning that amount of money? About 12 hours in total, over the course of three months.
Overall, it was a good summer.
Readers, what about you, how did you spend your summer? Let me know what the summer of 2012 was like for you in the “Comments” Section.