Friday, November 11, 2011

Zack's Shark Encounter

Zack left early yesterday morning to head to Denver for his brother's wedding, so I'm posting this blog entry for him from a McDonald's in Sydney so he can show his family. It's totally out of order as far as our vacation goes, but we'll be adding new ones about other things we've been up to over the next few days. Enjoy Zack's words for now:

On our third day of vacation, we were on a sailboat called the Vagabond and moored the boat on a section of the Great Barrier Reef. There were no other boats around, just as the previous day, so we had this section of reef all to ourselves. The weather was hot with no clouds in the sky, and the water was clear blue and looked just like the Great Barrier Reef postcards I'd seen at the Australian airports.

On the previous day, I (Zack) had my introductory scuba dive called the 'Dive of a Lifetime'. At the time I thought it was just that, because the feeling of breathing under the sea, getting close to the sea animals and coral, swimming through canyons, and hearing nothing but my breathing was simply amazing.  But it got better.

On the third day, just myself and Duane (our scuba instructor and one cool dude) went down for a dive to the 'Turtle Station'. There are some sea bushes (coral) where turtles nestle in and rub any unwanted debris from their shells, just like a dog squirms on its back for a scratch. And he had seen a reef shark there previously which piqued my interest.

Duane knew I was interested in seeing sharks. I overheard a conversation with him and the captain of the Vagabond where the captain mentioned that sharks are attracted to the sound of crinkling an empty plastic bottle because it sounds like crustaceans. So Duane decided to bring a plastic bottle along with him, though he had never tried this before.

Map of the dive site.
Down we went, for a total of twelve meters. We were swimming along the bottom when I saw the first white tipped reef shark. It was awesome and was about two to three meters in length. The shark was scared of us and darted away after a bit. We continued on and saw a lagoon stingray, a few more reef sharks, a prehistroric looking cuttlefish that was just hovering in the same spot a few feet from the bottom, and lots of beautiful coral and fish. I felt like I was in another world and loved it.

Taken by the Vagabond crew on a previous trip.
Then I pointed out another white tipped reef shark coming diagonally toward us as we came around a large coral wall. He wasn't alone; there were several others, and they just kept coming. The guide kept track, and it was a total of seven white tipped reef sharks that were checking us out! They were only three meters away. Good thing for them that they just kept going, because Duane and I were ready to lay the smackdown on them if they tried anything funny - like eating us!  I wasn't scared, because this was my second dive and I assumed it was normal. So when I surfaced at the end of the dive and told Belle, one of our guides, what we'd seen, she asked if they were "next to the mermaid"-ha! Turns out it is very rare to see so many sharks, as these guys have been diving for years and the most any of them had seen at once was a group of three.

Duane's dive log.
Needless to say, I loved my scuba diving experience and look forward to heading to the next exotic dive site to match the experience of the Great Barrier Reef. I love diving in the still, beautifully clear water, exploring the depths of the ocean searching for the next adventure, and discovering the calmness within myself and peace with the ocean.

Zack had a major "bromance" going with Duane!

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