“Would you be interested in going shark cage diving with me?” I re-read the email from Brooke, of Brooke vs. The World.
While for a normal person seeing the words ‘shark’ ‘cage’ and ‘diving’ in the same sentence may invoke horrible images of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster Jaws, when I learned about this opportunity with North Shore Shark Adventures and Get Your Guide it took me all of 2.5 seconds to excitedly agree to this opportunity to get face to face with the misunderstood kings of the ocean.
Brooke and I just so happened to both be in picturesque Hawaii at the same time in December 2012 and after bumping into each other randomly, we met up one morning with out bathing suits and adventure caps in tow. I’d like to say that Brooke took the ‘normal person’ approach to the afternoon’s plans – she seemed slightly nervous to get into the water with sharks. I, on the other hand was excited at the opportunity to get back into shark-infested waters. Back in March 2011, I had the opportunity to scuba dive on the Ningaloo Reef off of Western Australia and got up close and personal with no less than 12 massive reef sharks –sans cage – so for me, this was a little bit of old hat, and getting back to nature.
Bucket List Item #75 Shark Cage Diving: Complete!
We were picked up outside of one of the many hotels that make up the main strip in Waikiki and were driven an hour north to Haleiewa on Oahu’s famous North Shore. Upon arrival to the marina we were instructed to remove our shoes and once on board, Brooke and I, along with about ten other adventurous holidaymakers ranging in age from about 8 to 68, were given our safety briefing. We were told about what to expect once we got into the water and some informative facts about the two varieties of sharks that are most commonly seen while shark cage diving – the large Galapagos shark and the much smaller Sandbar shark.
The onboard staff were heaps of fun, and since Brooke and I were in the second group to go shark cage diving we joked around with them while we waited our turn to enter the deep waters. They got us going by telling us the usual jokes, such as ‘we have to swim out to the cage’ – UM, WHAT?!. Or that ‘they haven’t had any fatalities… this week’ –HA HA! We were amazed by the sheer beauty and size of the sharks from what we could see by looking over the side of the boat.
Finally it was our turn. With our snorkels and masks firmly planted on our faces, we climbed down the ladder and into the cage that would be our only protection from the 20+ sharks that lurked in the waters around us. For about a half hour we watched as the sharks seemingly appeared out of nowhere and swam around the cage. They weren’t aggressive or scary in any way. They merely swam by – more interested in the camera that was attached to the boat, since it’s electrical currents were picked up by the sharks’ electrosensory ability (often referred to as it’s sixth sense).
By the time our time was over, we were entranced with these unfairly misjudged victims of stereotype. Even Brooke – who had been nervous about taking the plunge – came out with a greater appreciation for the sharks. They were fascinating and beautiful creatures and from the perspective of someone who is aware of the importance of sharks upon the oceans’ ecosystem, humans need to come together to help ensure the protection and survival of the species. Due to overfishing and shark finning, the shark population is in a massive decline. The importance of the shark to the ocean is similar to that of the lion to Africa – as I learned first hand while volunteering with lions. By participating in shark cage diving – with reputable companies who DO NOT lure sharks to the cage by using unethical practices such as “chumming” (using fish and blood as bait) – you can get face to face with these amazing creatures, and hopefully the staff will be able to give the facts about the plight of the shark and encourage people to take action against the shark trade.
Some of the fun facts about the sharks we swam with include:
- Galapagos sharks can reach 3-3.5m in length while the Sandbar shark only reach about 1.8 -2m in length.
- While the Galapagos shark is commonly found around Hawaii, it is locally extinct (extirpated) in Central America
- Sandbar sharks are considered harmless to humans
I just wanted to send a huge thanks to Brooke for inviting me along, I truly had an amazing time and I’m glad that we got through it together! Also huge thanks goes out to GetYourGuide for arranging this opportunity for us.
* * * * *
Be sure to read Brooke’s side of the story HERE!