It just so happens that we were vacationing in the Bahamas when my daughter turned seventeen. I asked her what she'd like to do for her birthday and her reply to me was "I want to do a shark dive!". At first I was a bit apprehensive about doing a shark dive, sure I had seen them in the water at a distance on several other dives, but this would be alot of sharks. My biggest concern was the possibility of putting 2 of my kids in mortal danger underwater in large group of sharks in a feeding frenzy.
We would be swimming with 40 to 50 sharks so close you can touch them. I reminded her that sharks are wild creatures capable of tearing us to pieces, and they aren't tame, they're conditioned to be fed and can be unpredictable and dangerous. It didn't seem to bother her much so I setup a shark dive for her, her brother Chris and myself with largest dive shop on the island, Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas in Nassau.
The first dive was a wall dive close to the area where the feeding would take place. We'd swim over the wall to about 80 feet or so for a short bit, come back up over the wall, and check out a wreck before taking a surface interval. As the group is swimming along the wall looking for cools things to see, Liv and I are buddied up hanging toward the back of the group. We like to take our time and look around. A leisurely pace also helps conserve air especially since I'm hauling my camera setup around with me. As we're diving we can see a few sharks moving in closer and closer from the open water toward the wall. We even caught one sneaking up on us from behind, remember to look back once and a while.
After a swim around the wreck we headed over to the anchor line and began our ascent. By this time a few more sharks started to show up and we had fun watching them circle around below us as we did our safety stop.
Five minutes later and we surface and get out of the water for a while to off-gas a bit. As were sitting there some chum is cast out into the water to attract more of our fine finned friends.
The briefing was fairly detailed telling us what to do (and not to do) and what to expect. Descend as quickly as you can to the area known as the Shark Arena. There you'll find rocks arranged in a circle on the bottom in the sand at about 30 feet deep. Make yourself negatively buoyant and straddle one of the rocks keeping your arms in and everything as close to your body as possible. You don't want to give the sharks a target of opportunity by letting anything hang out. Also resist the urge to pet them, not only can you lose a hand or an arm, their skin can cut you if you rub it the wrong way and it's not a good idea to be bleeding at a shark feeding. Cool, were ready to go.
Everything goes as planned with the descent. A giant stride entry is made off the back and we immediately start to descend. By this time there are quite a few sharks swimming around and you can see why its a good idea to get to the bottom in an expedient manner. Once we get down the the bottom, we get negative, straddle the rocks and cross our arms. Now the fun begins.
The shark feeder drops down into the middle of the arena in his chainmail suit with his feeding stick and a metal food box. At first, he and his camera man stay in the middle of the arena. Every so often he cracks open the food box and spears a chunk of fish and then waves the spear out into the water and feeds one of the sharks. One odd thing we noticed was a fairly large grouper inching his way toward the feeder hoping to get something to eat. Even though he could have been an easy meal not one of the sharks were interested in him.
As the feeding continued the shark feeder started to drag the food box around to each group in the arena causing an immediate swarm of sharks around you. The were swimming all around us and even bumped into us several times. As close as they got to us, we never felt in any danger at any point since the sharks seemed to be more interested in the food than us.
At the end of the feeding, the shark feeder picked up his food box and swam away from the group. The sharks happily followed and left the area which gave the group the freedom to sift through the sand and find some teeth that had fallen out of their mouths. It was an amazing experience that I would definitely recommend to any diver. Hope you enjoyed the pics.
Look for us at 4:04 & 8:00.