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Shark Encounter

by | Sep 14, 2006

Ever been face to face with a shark? I have, but never this close until now.

This was one of those “Adventure Days” with Dive Makai in Kona, where they go offshore to see what they can see. We encountered a large pod of pilot whales and slipped into the water to snorkel with them. Having dived with Dive Makai for several years, I’d done this many times, but I never got a good shot of a pilot whale because they tend to keep their distance.

Today would be different, but not because of the whales. Just as I thought I was getting a good angle on a mother and calf through my viewfinder, I turned my head and this oceanic whitetip shark bumped the dome of my camera housing. I forgot all about the whales.

The shark swam off in a wide arc through the pod and came around again. It did this several times. Looking through a tiny viewfinder gave me a false sense of security, so I just kept shooting while swimming backwards toward the boat, pushing the shark away with with my dome when it bumped me. For those who don’t know, these oceanic whitetips aren’t like their more docile cousins, the reef whitetips. These guys are anything but docile.

My wife Kathy, who was cold from the previous dive and had stayed on the boat, was watching all this from the bow with the crew. She later told me everybody was a little surprised when they suddenly saw this dorsal fin pop up next to me.

I just wish I’d gotten a better shot. Maybe next time.

By the way, it’s our anniversary today. 15 years!