For a few months, you could catch me heading both north and south from Fort Lauderdale with coffee, a hacksaw and some frozen Bonita, hopping on and off Boston Whalers in search of sharks to dive with. I spent hours baiting and waiting to get some time in the water with them. But, a hacksaw, bait and blood didn't always mean sharks.
Not all share an affinity for getting in the water with these misunderstood creatures. For some, swimming with sharks is akin to cuddling with Poison Ivy or calling Comcast.
If you haven't been, maybe you imagine a washing machine of an ocean peppered with fins, minimal visibility and maybe blood? This is not that. It's serene and comfortable and once you're in, you'll cringe when you hear the captain calling you back to the boat when its over.
Here's a few things that'll surprise you about swimming with sharks.
1. Needlefish in a haystack - There are people who are afraid to add weights to their workout in fear of becoming 'bulky' when in reality, gaining mass muscle takes a ton of hard work and consistency. You don't get that way by accident. That mindset is similar to the perception of shark interactions. Its widely perceived that they're everywhere, at every moment. If you get in the water, you're going to see a shark... We should be so lucky. Contrary to popular belief, you have to look HARD to find them in South Florida. While we do occasionally encounter them 'by accident', we wish they were as easy to stumble upon as many people imagine.
2. Remember your High School Crush that never texted back? Like them, they're just not that into you. They don't like you, they don't dislike you- they are primal and they are hungry and they are there for the bait. And they aren't afraid to eat in front of you.
3. It's peanut butter jelly time - A minimal hiccup will be the most turbulence you'll experience during your shark dive. Maybe a Jellyfish will sting the only skin exposed from your wetsuit. Maybe you'll get sunblock in your eyes or forget the aux cord on the boat ride out or your mask will fog up (which can be avoided with spit). Your ecstatic to horrified ratio out there will be 10:1.
4. It takes all kinds of kinds - Different species means different experiences. Curious and inquisitive, if Silky's were human they would be Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Alpha, in your face and likely answering to BOSS, if Tigers were human, they would be Dan Brazileran. Shy, introverted and found on the fringe (possibly looking for a stapler?), if hammers were human, they would be Milton from Office Space.
5. Aye Aye Captain VS Ay Yi Yi captain The captain has everything to do with your safety. While sharks are not out to get you, diving with a negligent captain who doesn't keep a keen eye on each and every diver could go south fast.
6. Billy Madison said it best "Shampoo is better. I go on first and clean the hair. Conditioner is better. I leave the hair silky and smooth." TEAM CONDITIONER! One of the biggest challenges you'll face is getting your wet suit on. Bring conditioner and a heavy hand.
7. Yellow Light- If you're on the fence about swimming with sharks, remember that they are even more cautious than you are. Keep eye contact with them and you're all good. As visual predators, eye contact is their Kryptonite.
If you can get passed the idea that it ‘sounds’ unnatural to swim with sharks, you will be rewarded with one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. Feel free to ask any questions, we’d love to help you feel more comfortable in the water. If you are in our backyard (Florida) contact Ryan Walton (@ryanwaltonofficial).
The Floating Coconut Family