Bucket List #3: Swim with Sharks
Let me guess, most of you think I am absolutely crazy and are wondering why I would risk my life. Before I dive into my experience with swimming with sharks, I am going to tell you a little bit about my friends.
- Why are sharks important? They keep populations of smaller fish in check. Without sharks, entire ecosystems are disrupted
- While many people consider sharks to be the world’s deadliest animal, you are more likely to be killed by hornets, wasps, bees, or dogs
- While many of us have learned to fear sharks, they are the ones who should fear us. Humans kill 73 million sharks annually
- Punching a shark in the nose or poking its eyes can help to fend it off during an attack. Most sharks don’t want to work hard for their food
- How do sharks date? Male sharks find mates by biting female sharks. Ouch. Cats and turtles also bite potential partners.
- Of the roughly 50 shark attacks reported each year, only 10% prove to be fatal. So while an attack is rare, dying from one is even rarer
- Of the 72 unprovoked shark attacks in 2013, the most were in Florida, where there were 23 unprovoked attacks.
As a child, I had a sweet spot for people that were bullied, judged, hated, etc. I befriended them because I didn’t want them to feel alone. I know sharks don’t care what we think about them but everyone seems to see them as these horrible, monstrous, dangerous creatures; I see them differently. The fact that people fear them so much made me want to befriend them even more. I tend to go against what everyone thinks and after seeing videos of scuba divers feeding and petting several types of sharks, I was hooked.
- While shark fin soup is a Chinese tradition, the primary downside to finning is that it causes the deaths of 73 million sharks every year [When I found out that sharks are hunted for their fins and are left to drown in the ocean, I was furious and my heart went out to them.]
I can’t recall when and why I decided that I wanted to swim with sharks but it’s been on my list for a couple of years now. It may have actually started when a couple of friends of mine invited me shark fishing near the Juno Beach area.
The first night I went out shark fishing, we caught a couple of blacktip sharks. I decided it was a good idea to try and sit on one and take a picture. Well my first attempt was a fail. The shark was a little feisty and I ended up tripping over it and scrapping my knee. Thankfully, I did not trip anywhere near its mouth. Even after this scary experience, that did not stop me. I waited until we caught a smaller, less angry shark to sit on. [For those wondering, all the sharks that were caught when I went shark fishing have been placed back into the ocean, alive.]
- Great whites are the most notorious man-eaters. But they do not like the taste of humans, often biting and releasing attack victims.
- As sensational as shark attack newspaper headlines are, the reality is that you are more likely to be bitten by another person than a shark.
A few months ago I posted a picture on Instagram of a great white and I mentioned that I’ve been wanting to swims with sharks. That day a friend from high school sent me a message asking if I was truly interested because she knew of a company that could make this happen. I responded immediately with a YES!
We planned a date and it was set. I bought a Go Pro so I could capture this experience.
The night before the big day, I could not sleep. I stayed up until 1 AM watching videos on YouTube of people shark diving.
When we got to the place, my literal words to my friend were, “Shit, this is really happening.”
We got on the boat and I had several mixed emotions. I thought I was crazy for paying to actually swim with sharks and essentially put my life in danger; I was anxious because I was going to cross off another thing off my list; I was so happy that this was finally happening that I almost wanted to cry tears of joy. Before I left the house, I wrote in my journal a few words to my close family and friends, just in case I didn’t make it back. [But I’m writing this, so that means I survived!]
- Want to avoid a shark attack? Don’t splash and don’t wear jewelry. Sharks are attracted to splashing and sharp color contrasts. [You want to make sure to stay calm and just enjoy the view when you’re shark diving.]
We finally arrived to the area where we would encounter the sharks. The bait was dropped down about 20 feet into the ocean and once the sharks starting showing up, we were able to hop in the water. There was a rope to hold on to while you just watched the sharks swim beneath you.
At one point there were about 10-12 Bull sharks beneath us. The closest a shark got to us was about 6 feet away.
- Tiger, great white, and bull sharks perpetrate most attacks on humans. They hunt human-sized prey and are capable of inflicting fatal bites [I guess the Bull sharks liked me and let me survive.]
Everyone’s first reaction when I tell them is, “You’re crazy. WHY?” and I, of course respond with a, “Why not?” haha.
When I got into the water, there wasn’t an ounce of fear in me. For me, swimming with these sharks was one of the best experiences in my life. The fact that I swam with one of the top most dangerous sharks and I survived, kind of gives me a high. Yes, they can absolutely be dangerous but if you give them a reason too.
- You may think of sharks as ravenous, man-eating sea terrorists, but only 20 of the 350+ shark species are known to attack humans
Not everyone is cut out to go on risky adventures. I’ve always had a free spirit and enjoyed doing things for the first time. Ever since my dad passed away back in January, I’ve noticed I’ve been doing more dangerous things; I think this is my own way of dealing with the loss. The more dangerous the risk, the better I feel. But it always leaves me wanting more.
Anyway, ever since last Sunday, I’ve been obsessed with sharks. I just want to go swim with them again. Naturally, I started adding more to the bucket list. I want to get scuba certified, I want to buy a boat, and I want to feed and pet sharks.
For those interested in shark diving, my friends and I went through a company called Florida Shark Diving located in Jupiter. They were great and I felt safe throughout the whole experience.
If you are on Instagram, check out these three accounts. @sharkaddicts @sharkaddicts2 @sharkaddicts3. These guys interact with sharks and their purpose is to show the world that sharks should not be feared. They are pretty awesome.
Also, I’m in love with my new long sleeve from the Local Brand. @thelocalbrand
Thanks for reading my blog and for all the feedback I have received.
I hope that this inspires to do something crazy and out of the ordinary. I want you all to know that my life is “cool” only because I choose to live it that way. I make sure that I make time to do things I truly want to do.
I read something today that puts things into perspective and I hope it helps you too.
“That is why humans resist life. To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans.” ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
Do not fear life, live it every day! I am sending you all love and happiness your way.