Friday, February 26, 2010

Tiger Shark

Before the Tiger Shark story gets revealed, let me update on a few things:

First, we finally started taking our Rebreather class with Todd.  We decided to learn the Inspiration Rebreathers, because those seem to be very reliable, plus Todd has a bunch of them around!  The class has been a lot of fun so far, but it has also shown us how little we think about the actually physics of diving while diving on the traditional open circuit scuba we all love.  So it has taken us a bit of refreshing to get our minds back around the principles of diving so that we can be as safe as possible while diving these rigs.  Todd is doing a great job of taking us through the class too, so if we die it's his fault.  (Mom his name is Todd Winn, Gwen knows how to get ahold of him!) 

We're excited to get going on the Rebreathers because Rachel Cartwright from the Keiki Kohola Project,, recently gave us the go ahead on using the rebreathers during her research in late March.  She wants us to be able to get good photo's and video's of the babies so that we might be able to figure out the sex of the newborns, among other things.  It sounds pretty exciting to us and we've wanted to play with rebreathers for many reasons anyways.  We're hoping that some cool Hammerhead experiences await us in the near future.

Dan and I have also completed moving our little office into our house, we figure it would be the easiest way to shower more regularly and maybe even eat once in a while.  So far it seems to be working out pretty well even though Gwen says we spend most of our time in our little office.

Mango is getting huge!  She must weigh about 45lbs now, but she's still cute as a button.  She went on her first big walk today and when she got to the duck pond up in Kapalua she went diving in the water.  We know she's one of us now, she'll be diving soon.

So, now for the real reason that your reading this blog today; the Tiger Shark!

At the end of a normal dive at Sgt. Major, a diver made some noise to draw attention to a Manta Ray swimming by the reef.  Dan and I left the baby turtle behind and swam to the edge of the reef to hang out with the Manta for a bit.  We snapped photo's and video of the creature for about 10 minutes then realized we were getting towards the 50 minute mark of our dive and most of the divers were heading back up to the boat; so we followed slowly back happy with our morning dives.  As we neared the boat Rebecca was snorkeling and trying to get our attention from the surface, writing notes on her slate about a Tiger Shark or something in the area.  At first we thought that she was nervous and wanted to get us and the other divers out of the water, but we were wrong.  She was telling us to save battery life and to get back up on the boat so we could go find the sucker!

As we surfaced, Captain Todd and Rebecca began telling us the story about how another boat had seen two large Tiger Sharks eating a Monk Seal at the surface not far from where we were diving and how Todd had gotten the GPS coordinates from the other boat captain.  So we were off to see what we could find!

As we approached the area, we saw another circling boat and no signs of Sharks or Seals, Dan and I remained suited in our dive gear just in case.  At one point we thought we saw a red cloud just under the surface or maybe dark objects, but it was hard to be sure.  Since we had just dove about 300 yards from the spot we all knew which way the current was going, so we asked to be dropped in the water up current a bit from the spot on the off chance that there was still something going on in the water below.  

As we got ready, I would be lying if I said we weren't a bit nervous to jump into possibly sharky waters, but we were far more excited than nervous so we went for it.  As soon as we hit the surface we began to sink and swim towards the bottom.  The water was deeper than we thought, and we leveled off at about 75 feet.  We got back to back and drifted along watching every direction we could, never knowing what would come our way.  We half expected to see the remnants of a Monk Seal carcass and Tiger Shark tails jerking around as their heads were buried in the remains, but there was nothing.  

After only just a few seconds a small school of bait fish swam up to us and circled, that's when we knew we weren't alone.  Then, like the Leopard Shark scene in Life Aquatic, we stopped and stared like Steve Zissou as this huge creature approached out of the nothingness ahead.

It was amazing!  Our hearts were pounding with fear and excitement and our fins were hitting each other as we pushed close together so that we could feel safe in the middle of the blue water.  Our only comforts were that we were both there together and that we had two cameras to push this Giant Shark away from us if she turned and got too close.  She headed directly for us, turned broadside and showed us all the girth and muscle she had and then she just stared at us.

 Honestly, the 14-16 foot shark wanted nothing to do with us.  She leisurely swam around us three times just as curious to see us as we were to see her; she seemed happily stuffed full of endangered Monk Seal.   We did see another Tiger shark at one point but it made a real quick move towards the surface, which made us a little nervous because Rebecca was snorkeling above.  The second shark retreated almost as quickly as it appeared, and our big girl eventually swam away as well.

We can't wait for another opportunity like that!  Thank you Captain Todd and Rebecca for setting us up for the adventure of a lifetime.

Thank you all for reading.  It's been fun to hear how many of you guys actually read this blog.  You can become a "follower" of this blog on the side bar, sign up then we'll have a better idea who is reading too.  Either way, thank you for tuning in.  We've got more cool stuff coming!

Talk soon,