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Shark Feeding

Any time you stick your head in the ocean, you take one step down on the food chain.

OK, who would be dumb enough to want to go under water and swim with sharks? Better yet, who would be dumb enough to go under water to feed sharks?

Answer: That would be ME!

I am not sure how you spent the weekend celebrating Halloween, but I bet it wasn't as scary as my weekend. I was in Nassau on a business trip so I decided to stay the weekend get certified to feed sharks at Stuart Cove's. What a great experience! It was such a rush to have dozens of sharks worked into a frenzy swimming around me, swimming at me, bumping into me and even biting me a few times.

These animals are large, strong, graceful animals that remind me of the horse on land. If you understand them and respect them, you can work in close vicinity to them in relative safety if you take precautions. If you are careless, they can hurt you.

Click on the thumbnails below to see a larger picture.

Well, I wasn't stupid enough to go down there without protection. (That didn't come out right.) Here I am getting into my chainmail pants and sleeves.
My chainmail glove. Notice the finger tips. That worried me a little. Like the last guy to wear them might have lost something.
All suited up on the ocean floor. I look like a dork in the helmet, but I was glad I had it when the sharks were bumping into my head. It sounded like their teeth scratching the helmet. I probably would have lost at least one ear if I had not worn the helmet.
At times it got a bit wild. In this picture one of the sharks has just taken the fish from the spear (not sure which one got it) and a bunch of them are heading for it.
Here you can see several of them attacking the bait and me right behind it. They are knocking over the bait box. I looked really scary from the other side with all these sharks coming at me with their mouths open.
Here I am getting the first bait fish out of the bait box. I tried to wait until things were calmed down before I fed the fish but sometimes things got crazy really quickly when I held the fish up to feed a shark.
This one shows me holding the fish out on the spear for the sharks to eat. I would try to wait until they were calm and then offer it to one. But as soon as I would hold it up, a bunch of them would dive for it and end up banging into me and biting the spear and sometimes my hand, arm or leg.
Here is a feed that went very well. The shark I was trying to feed came in and grabbed the fish off the spear. If you look closely, her eye looks white. That is because when they attack their food, their nictitans membrane (third eyelid) comes out and covers their eyes so that their eyes won’t be hurt by their prey (which is not usually already dead on the end of a stick).
Here is another one taking the fish off the stick.
You can’t see me too well here, but you can see part of the fish sticking out of the shark’s mouth.
This shark grabbed the fish but then tried to swim off with my spear. I was determined that he would not take it. The instructor brought an extra spear just in case. And he warned me that safety is always the first concern and if the shark was swimming off with the spear he could injure me or dislocate my shoulder so if I felt I had to let go I should but try not to. I held on to the spear and saved face.
This one shows the shark just after he pulled the fish off the spear. You can see the fish in his mouth.
Here are two sharks fighting for the same fish right in front of my face.
Here the big shark swimming right at the camera has just taken the fish off the spear. The one below him senses the electrical impulses from arm pulling at the spear and he grabbed my arm a split second after this picture was taken. He let go quickly and the chainmail did its job.
Again it is hard to see me in this one. The shark missed the fish and bit onto the spear. I had to wrestle it away from this guy, too. Notice the shark on the floor getting ready to swim between my legs. That happened more than once. Once a big shark swam under me and I ended up sitting on her for what seemed like a minute but was probably only a few seconds. They did not get a picture of that. I was kind of excited about that. A four hundred pound shark between my legs got my heart racing more than having a Harley under me.
This view from above was taken when things were pretty much under control. The sharks are circling in an orderly manner and not crowding me too much. You can only see about half the sharks in this picture. The rest were out of the camera's view.
This is what I felt like much of the time. There were sharks all around me.
After I was done feeding the sharks, Tohru shook my hand as the sharks stopped to pay their respect and thank me for the snack.
Here I am back at the dock with my instructor, Tohru Yamaguchi, congratulating me. I survived with all ten fingers.

  To see pictures from other dive trips, click on the button below to go to my SCUBA page. It has links to other pages of pictures and dive reports from many different dive trips over the years. 

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