Since before I can remember I had a fear of the ocean. I was terrified to go in alone- there was something about not knowing what was underneath me that was unsettling. Even as a child I was afraid to swim in the deep end of a swimming pool because my vivid imagination would run wild and I would imagine sharks swimming up behind me.
I hate fear. I hate the power that it takes over us and how it can cripple us. I love water and was sick of my fear tainting my love for swimming in the ocean. I challenged myself to overcome my fear and signed up to get scuba certified.
I was afraid of fish- I hated the idea of their slimy scales rubbing up against me. Of course, more than fish I was terrified of seeing a shark. I was hoping that my scuba instructor would be brave enough to fight it off or take the bullet for us if one did come along.
My scuba course consisted of 5 dives. I still remember my first dive so clearly. It was like I was part of a beautiful giant fish tank. What surprised me the most was that none of the sea creatures cared that we were down there. No fish came up to slime their bodies against me- they just swam merrily on their way. If I even tried to swim through a school of fish they would swim away.
Eventually, the moment that I had feared for my whole childhood came to a reality. I saw a shark!
Only, it wasn’t at all like the image I had conjured up in my mind over all of these years. The shark didn’t smell my warm juicy flesh and suddenly come charging at me to eat me whole. It was a black tip shark and acted just like the fish- it wanted nothing to do with me.
Since that day, I have seen many sharks on my scuba diving and snorkeling adventures. In Belize I visited Shark Ray Alley – off the island of Caye Caulker. The boat driver threw a bucket of chum into the ocean for the sharks and I jumped into the water to watch as about twenty sharks came to devour the bloody food. I was swimming right next to the chum and- even with the smell of blood in the water- the sharks were still not interested in munching on my boney body.
The most beautiful moment that I have ever had with sharks also occurred in Belize- but this time while scuba diving. While underwater there were three sharks swimming along with us. They were the largest sharks that I had ever seen and stunning creatures. If you watch too many blockbuster films you might think that they were swarming around us trying to go in for the kill. In reality, these sharks were actually just curious about the bubbles coming out of our regulators.
These sharks swam along with us in the deep blue and it was an amazing experience. I felt so lucky to be in the presence of these amazing animals which predate dinosaurs by 200 million years.
Sharks have survived through 5 mass extinctions, making them truly remarkable. However, the one thing that sharks aren’t able to survive through is the murdering by people.They run our planet and we owe them so much yet instead we slaughter them and treat them like monsters. For every human killed by a shark there are about 2 million sharks killed by humans. TWO MILLION!
I could go on forever about how amazing sharks are and why we need to protect them not fear them. Here are 5 quick facts about sharks and what we are doing to them;
Sharks want to eat food like seal blubber- not human bones. If there is a shark attack usually the shark is just biting out of curiosity
You are more likely to get bitten by another human than by a shark-who are the monsters now?
Only 3% of the more than 500 species of sharks are known to attack humans
About 150 people are killed each year by coconuts compared to sharks killing only 4-12 people a year. Coconuts are more dangerous than sharks!
Because of humans some shark species populations have been hunted down by approximately 90%
When traveling in Panama with my awesome travel buddy Cam we did some amazing scuba dives. I had to leave a day before Cam because I had to fly back home. The day I left Cam went scuba diving and saw this amazing whale shark!