Fiji delivered beyond my expectations and I left in awe! I have found myself struggling after my return, trying to go through my photos, figure out what to post, what to write and share... There is just no possible way to capture the experiences I just had and do them justice with words or photos. I'll start slow... and maybe I will catch my breath as the week goes on.
It was our second day of boat diving and we were off to the "Cathedral" for the anticipated shark dive. If for some reason my diving ended after the shark dive, I would have left Fiji completely elated! Our scuba director Aaron said to us "if you are going to listen to one dive briefing on this trip, may I strongly suggest it is this one?" Okay!! Time to pay attention this was the real deal, no cages, and no shark suits.
After we reviewed all the safety guidelines we talked about what we might see, as there is never a guarantee we will see anything... white-tip, black-tip, nurse sharks, lemons, bulls and maybe if we are lucky a tiger! I'd only seen nurse sharks and a lemon shark at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium... never out in the open water... and never a tiger!
We were visited by a big-mamma tiger shark on the first dive! She was beautiful, graceful and beyond powerful. She took the fish head from her feeder and then circled around us as a curious puppy might. Then back to get more fish chum. Watching the interaction between her and her feeder was lovingly insane, unpredictable and delightful! We spent 30-minutes with her circling about, back and forth, right in front of us. There was a supporting cast of tropical fish and other sharks but she was Queen B for these 30-minutes and all eyes were on her!
My Bullish Encounter!
No tigers on the second dive however we had plenty of nurse, lemons and bulls breezing about... literally it became a shark highway with the tiger's belly full and her out of the vicinity. I had to just sit back and take it in for a few moment as there was so much going on!! The dive masters were dealing with sharks behind us and they were feeding them in front of us. Feeders would swim crazily into the middle of the shark highway and cut-open a bunch of chum (BTW...this was the only traffic jam I saw in Fiji!!).
I watch a bull shark swim back and forth and tried to snap a couple photos. Then he got super curious and turned towards me. I waited as I was instructed, expecting the dive master behind me to push his back but nothing was happening, so I calmly crouched down and put my camera up over my head to keep something between the two of us! While intuitively it seemed like the right thing to do, I half expected he might grab my camera and take it! But no, he was just curious. I felt like he was sitting on me so I pushed up on him with my camera... didn't want the headlines to read "girl smothered by shark" no excitement in that! Finally the dive master who was dealing with another shark behind me saw my new friend and coaxed my bullish buddy away. I was amazed how calm I remained, the whole thing was so surreal.
Sharks are beautifully majestic and our ecosystem depends on their survival! They are just so misunderstood thanks to media.
I really need to practice more warm water shots! I am honestly not happy with any of my shots this trip. The coloring is just off... and yet, another learning curve! Practice, practice, practice.... ***hint-hint***
Pamela Treischel is a SCUBA diving enthusiast, underwater photography hobbyist and Ambassador for the Inland Ocean Coalition.