Monday, September 28, 2009

Typical Caribbean shark encounters pt II

So last week we covered off one of the two most common Caribbean shark encounters; the fleeting, fleeing reef shark, and I promised you the other one would follow. Usually it goes a little something like this. Either you or someone else will stick their head under an overhang, between a couple of rocks or into some other sheltered nook or crannie (and if its someone else they’ll beckon you over) and you’ll end up in close proximity to a sleeping nurse shark. This can be a bit of a surprise as amazingly big sharks can curl themselves up or push their way into surprisingly tight spots but don’t worry – these guys are very calm.


If you’re slow and methodical you won’t spook the shark and you’ll be able to view, or perhaps photograph it from a variety of angles (below is the same shark as above from a different angle) and then move on without the shark stirring.


Some sharks are more flighty than others though and will bolt from their holes at your approach. If it starts to move, just give it a little room and enjoy the encounter. It may resettle in the same spot or it may shoot off. If you don’t give it room to get out it’ll make itself some room and you may find an agitated shark bouncing off you.


Even though you may get very close to some hefty sharks, nurse shark encounters are very safe. These are crustacean and fish eaters not big prey biters. If you start to play around with a sleepy nurse though, that’s a recipe for getting you a$$ kicked and ruining your and everyone else’s dive (anything you wouldn’t do to a large biker in a bar, you should consider carefully before doing to a sleeping nurse shark – ie poking, proding, posing with your arm around, pretending to kiss, riding, sticking a camera in their mouth, etc, etc). The best case scenario where divers prod or poke or otherwise encroach on a nurse shark’s space is that the other divers on the boat think the diver in question is a bit of a tool. The next best case scenario is the shark flees at speed and everyone thinks the diver in question is a real tool. After that come various scenarios where the shark uses its crushing jaws or bulk to turn bits of a diver into hamburger mix which is superuncool. So enjoy your nurse shark encounter, leave a little bit of room, keep it safe and have fun!

1 comment:

jason said...

Beautiful shark!

This really tickled me: shark bouncing off you, treat the shark like you'd treat a large biker in a bar, being thought a tool for meddling with a shark... Good stuff!

And your advice works with a lot of other wildlife as well: be slow and nonthreatening, be aware and respectful, leave plenty of room, and most importantly, be sensible. Wise words indeed.