Roatan Shark Dive Redux
As promised, here’s a lightly edited version of the Roatan Shark Dive Andrea and I had the pleasure of doing as part of our Shark Conservation Specialty Course at Subway Watersports during our Instructor Development Course (IDC) over in Turquoise Bay. The resolution isn’t quite as sharp as the GoPro footage we normally use -- they don’t let you bring GoPros down to the Cara Cara dive site, but their footage does a great job of highlighting this amazing experience.
The Roatan Shark Dive is the kind of thing you should do at least once. It was a bit choppy out there and the ten minute boat ride felt like an hour smashing into the waves and getting hit with big salty sprays. It got so bad we all donned our masks. When we finally dropped down into the eighty plus degree water, there was a lot of current (for Roatan) and we had to hang onto the line to keep from being blown away. Once we all slowly pulled our way down the mooring line, we settled onto the sandy bottom against a coral wall about 70 feet below the surface.
Being eye to eye and swimming around with more than a dozen female black tipped reef sharks is incredible, something that words aren’t adequately equipped to describe. One of the sharks had a long fishing line trailing back from the hook caught in her mouth and I really wanted to help her out, I really wanted to pull that nasty hook out, but I value my hands. If I had a pair of those nifty chain-mail gloves, I might have actually done it. Big emphasis on the might have.
I don’t really like the fact that they’re feeding the sharks, but I get that they need to do it in order to maintain a healthy business. And while our tour guide was adamant that they only feed them a “small amount” of fish, this human activity is clearly changing the behavior of the sharks ... and I’m not sure it’s for the best.
Since this was our second time doing the Roatan Shark Dive, I noticed some differences -- the first time around the moment that lid was off the bucket the sharks were all over it, fighting to get into the bucket, but this time, there was some hesitation, like most of the sharks have learned to be wary of the bucket, to keep from sticking their entire head into the bucket or get their teeth caught on it.
Having said that, we had a great time and the group we went with from Turquoise Bay had an unforgettable experience. I’m sure cage diving with sharks is awesome, but actually being in the water with them, swimming next to them is a completely transcendent experience. We even got another tiny little shark tooth. It’s a daily visual reminder that there is something really special, gentle and delicate about these gorgeous creatures that gets lost in all the Shark Week/Jaws hype.