Thunder grey clouds rolled in above me. The choppy ocean mirrored it’s misery into a deep, dark abyss. So dark, that I couldn’t see anything besides the occasional shark fin slicing through the surface.
A clear sign of death.
“There’s eight of them! All Galaps! Maybe that 15-foot Tiger from this morning will come back. That would be awesome!” – Our clearly insane guide, Juan
The boyfriend and I look at each other in agreement that these people with us are, indeed crazy. Then proceed to change the direction of the eye-talk into a blame game stare-down, “this was all your idea…”
Samuel L Jackson. I just kept thinking about Sam. His fatal scene in “ Deep Blue Sea” kept replaying in my brain while people willingly jumped from the boat, dropping like smiling flies into the ocean, actin’ like the time wasn’t lunch hour.
The time was also approaching shark week.
I’m the one who exclaims, “that’s what you get” when someone bitten by an animal in their habitat. I’m the one who curses obscenities at people messing with black bears from the safety of my couch. I’m the one who watches “Swamp People” just waiting for a gator to win the battle.
I’m also the one who went on this dumb ass excursion.
Let me tell you why.
It’s his fault.
Within our first year of dating, we had experienced: skydives, race car driving, hot air ballooning and things of that nature together. We deemed ourselves the “risk takers”, that gave us some sort of gold star among the regulars. After a long extreme helicopter flight over Waimea falls, we were ready for something exhilarating again.
However, the ”off menu” activity at the resort was something that seemed to put us ON the menu.
Open water shark diving.
There would be no cage, there would be no tamed sharks, and moreover, there would be no necessary training involved.
Just as quickly as I decided that I’m not risking my life to stunt on the ‘Gram, boyfriend signs us up for the 11 a.m. spot.
After seeing a sample video of the host, “Ocean Ramsey” swimming around with these sharks like they’re small minnows, we knew he must have been lured into the fact that they are safe.
This was siren trickery.
*Thought: She is gorgeous, smart and saving their kind… more importantly she is 12 pounds. They don’t want her. Wait until they see the meat on this ass.
Fellow hotel guest walks by and asks us what activity we are signing up for.
Excitedly, now macho boyfriend says, “ Shark diving.”
“Y’all are doing WHAT? Nah, I’ll go on the horse ride.”
I sat and Googled facts about shark attacks in the area.
Carla Herrareia, Huffington Post
Another article with a body count… followed by another.
I’m interrupted by Adam, the travel guide to ensure me that it’s so safe,
“Zac Effron just swam with these beauties yesterday and is going on the boat before us tomorrow again. It’s THAT safe. He’s doing it twice! Mahalo!”
I don’t care about Zac Effron. Zac Effron is probably not as tasty as I am, and he has to go on to make more mediocre movies for the masses. (No shade. I actually almost enjoyed “Neighbors”)
So, I did not sleep a wink during that night. I listened to the Pacific Ocean that would soon devour me. In the morning, my nerves were on Cirque-du-Soleil over my light yogurt breakfast that I could barely stomach.
We’re in the tiny boat. In the middle of a huge ocean. The shoreline has disappeared. Guide Juan gives a rundown of rules like, “…don’t make bubbles, they will think you’re in distress and therefore food. Keep your arms glued to your sides when swimming, if they try to body check you, swim back to the boat before they try anything crazy.”
I almost shit my pants.
Boyfriend dives in.
I almost faked an injury.
Boyfriend is kicking around making the very bubbles Juan just told us not to make.
I vomit over the edge of the boat.
Boyfriend’s still alive, getting his Michael Phelps on.
The 8 year old boy next to me jumps off the boat like it’s The Wonkatania into a chocolate river.
I jump in.
Three giant sharks are in arms reach of me.
So calm and so quiet. So quiet.
I could only hear my breath, my heartbeat and nothing else. I had to be in the moment, completely aware of everything around me and every part of my body to live.
I looked into the eyes of these sharks and felt forever changed.
They were beautiful.
These creatures weren’t evil. They were misunderstood. They are currently threatened by shark finning, pollution to their habitat and demonized in the media. If someone tried to pollute my land, killed my people for souvenirs or made my race out to be the bad guy by propaganda… wait. I’ll just leave that there. I pray they fare better than my dissolved Native American roots.
Somehow, the things that seemed so scary were no longer a threat. These beings seemed to teach me a life lesson in 30 minutes. Multiple metaphors sunk in as I sank down deeper.
We create our own fear based on imagery and outside opinions. Instead of educating ourselves on the things we don’t know, we go into them blindly or not at all, leading to limitations or injury. We fear the unknown and create so many negative images that we may miss an opportunity to learn something that puts us at the edge of discovery, or simply makes us better humans.
I highly recommend doing this at least once in your lifetime. You will never have a moment where you are more aware and enlightened. You will respect sharks and understand their way of life from the informative guides and experience in their home.
If you want more information and would like to visit One Ocean Dive in Hawaii, here are the deets.
Juan and Ocean are extremely knowledgeable and professional. Once we got out of our own paranoid heads, they made us feel as comfortable as possible. They explain the science and social structure of sharks within their info session beforehand. But, their lifestyle involves being in an intimate setting with sharks everyday in the wild, which was highly reassuring.
They are on multiple news outlets and Ted Talks, explaining the importance of sharks in our ecosystem and the conservation of marine life. They’ve dedicated their life to this cause. That shit’s dope.
So, go. Have a blast.
P.S. Here are more photos. You should pay Juan for pictures because Sharks like to try to eat gopros sometimes and your photos will never be as badass as his.