Monday, March 03, 2008

scuba diving and sharks

I got my NAUI Scuba Diver certification card replacement this weekend. I absolutely love the ocean and have spent a lot of time snorkeling but haven't been diving since my certification dive in 1992!! We snorkeled daily in the Galapagos Islands last year and it was my favorite part of the trip. It was breathtaking and peaceful and amazing. I snorkeled in Australia a few times with the kids when we went in 2006, even though it was their winter and the water was chilly! It was my first visit to the Great Barrier Reef in Fall 1991 that created in me the desire to get Scuba certified, which I did as soon as I returned back home and started back the next semester in college in 1992. I spent hours diving in the Olympic sized pool at Texas A&M University, but alas besides my certification dive in Lake Travis in Austin - which had such murky water you could not see your hand in front of your face - that is the extent of my diving experience... I started an advanced Scuba dive class at A&M but I dropped the class. So that doesn't count.

One time in Florida about 8 years ago, I thought I might dive in the crystal clear Homosassa River with manatees and go down into a cave. But I got my equipment on and the regulator mouthpiece wasn't fitting right and the mask was leaking and I was like, ain't no way I'm going down into that cave unless I feel comfortable... and I didn't, so I popped back up.

So I'm really excited about learning to dive again! This will mean - after I get back from Australia or if I survive the sharks according to my kids - I can finally go out to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico and dive with whale sharks, which are peaceful plankton eating sharks that are completely harmless yet are one of the biggest fishes in the sea - up to 30 feet long. They're GORGEOUS! (I hear Steve Irwin's voice when I write that!) And they visit the sanctuary every summer, so I'm going to see if I can't just write an article on them and have an excuse to get out there. (Image copyright PRETOMA - and there's some cool research where divers can take photos of them with the Shark Trust's Whale Shark Project)

I'm going to do a recertification program in Australia when I first get there then go on a dive in the Great Barrier Reef before getting on board the shark research vessel, headed out to Osprey Reef. I hope to get a lot of diving in!

Funny thing, I got some Scuba books from the library and on one of the book covers it has three divers underwater with the "thought bubbles" above their heads and one of them is thinking, "Will I get eaten by a shark?" ha ha! Last night I watched a documentary on sharks with Sam. They are just such graceful and majestic animals. I'm looking forward to seeing them for real, in the wild, up close and personal. And I'm glad it's not great whites I'm going to be swimming with - MAN - they have some JAWS!!!! Not to mention TEETH!! Anyone out there watch the Planet Earth "Shallow Seas" episode with the ultra-slo-mo clip of great whites catching Cape fur seals? Wow that was cool.

I wrote the online profile of Great Whites for Planet Earth's website. There are 10 animals profiled there - click on the shark thumbnail image. One alarming stat: Sharks only kill 4-8 people per year, but people kill 26-73 MILLION sharks annually!!!! Depressing actually.

1 comment:

Brian Shmaefsky said...

Congrats. Wonderful animal to get the chance to encounter. I remember my first exposure to sharks involved removing ectoparasites as part of job with the New York Zoological Osborn Labs located at the NY Aquarium. Never did see a whale shark.