Go to the Places That Scare You.
Renown for it’s sharky waters, I find myself pulling my feet up on my board during sunset surfs in this region…During another bout of bad weather, I was lucky enough to be able to tie to a charter mooring right in the middle of a pass, cozy and protected from nearly all wind directions…
This particular pass is home to 300 gray sharks! Day after day, I dove with the sharks, growing cautiously but increasingly more comfortable around them. And from my humble observations, they’re really not the voracious, unpredictable beasts we perceive them to be. The grays and black tips were curious, but easily spooked and not prone to lingering. The oceanic white tip I saw was a bit more daunting, (probably because it was a lot bigger than me!) but otherwise uninterested in my awkwardly bobbing American flesh. The lemon sharks are supposed to be more aggressive, but I only saw two and they stayed shyly distance and near the bottom, their beady little eyes scanning for grub…The grays often hung out in the deeper parts of the pass, swimming around Swell mostly early or in the evening hours. They all move in that slow, suspicious, inconspicuously sharky way– making wide circles, looking for sick or easy prey. In fact, sometimes they are so close to other fish and don’t attack? The healthy fish seem totally unafraid, like they know they’re not his target. In fact, I often thought they were a little lazy actually…that is until a school of grays went on a needlefish feeding frenzy one morning. I was quite happy to be aboard Swell at that moment…
Although none of these sharks are known for frequent human attacks, I felt less afraid knowing that with so many fish around (this pass is a new marine reserve!!), it seems unlikely that they would stray from normal feeding habits. Whereas, in areas where we have heavily overfished and polluted the ocean to the point that the shark’s normal diet is not readily available, a shark has more reason to taste different entrees…Or maybe surfers are just annoying–always having too much fun…?
In any case, it’s great to observe animal behavior. It makes you think about your own…
And like Pema Chodron says, it’s always growth-inducing to “go to the places that scare you.”
JimNovember 17, 2011
Mike DaggyNovember 18, 2011
For me, snorkeling or diving with sharks has always filled me with awe. Me, trying to keep up for a better look, and they, lazily finning along and leaving me in the shadows. Their silky hide that seems to glow, what beautiful creatures, what a joy to be allowed to share their home.
Thanks for sharing your peaceful experiences in the blue and reminding that Pema Chodron tells us to lean into the sharp points.
Kevin WaltersDecember 1, 2011
Very cool Liz! It’s always humbling to be in the presence of an apex predator.