Saturday, August 2, 2008

Diving With the Sharks - Almost

Sydney, Australia has an aquarium (Oceanworld Manley) where you can do an "Xtreme Dive" with about 12 or so nurse sharks and other miscellaneous sea life, like giant turtles, fish, and a couple of other sharks. I was really excited to go on the shark dive and booked it months in advance. I am too chicken to swim with real wild sharks, even in a cage, but I thought in an aquarium I would be okay. Actually, it isn't the sharks that are hard for me, it's the scuba diving. I hate to put my face in the water, and I hate diving. I tried it once in Maui and I was sick afterwards and too nervous the whole time to enjoy it. But, I thought these would be near ideal conditions - just a few feet down in a tank, with pre-fed sharks and instructors and all sorts of neat marine life.

There were four of us set to dive on the last dive of the day on a Saturday. Three women and my husband. It took a long time to gear up with the weights, wet suits, tanks, etc. Then we had to practice sign language for walk, kneel, stop, look, problem with mask, etc. And then practice breathing and so forth. The water was really, really cold. I had a very hard time with it and had to keep psyching myself up. The only way I could keep going was to look at the sharks and fish and get distracted. I would forget to breathe.

The sharks were actually relaxing, and I got within about a foot of some of the nurse sharks, and a giant turtle, and a school of fish swam by me. But, one of the other girls was really starting to have trouble, and I could tell I wouldn't make it through the whole dive without being sick. I was shaking from cold and I was getting nauseous. So I decided to bail on the dive and not do the entire thing - despite all the prep.

I watched my husband do the dive and that was cool - I got to be on the outside of the aquarium while he was in with the sharks. Here is a photo of him and a close up of one of the sharks. The sharks have cold, beady little eyes and as much as I like animals, I didn't feel any kind of bond with them. I did think it was cool to be near them, but they don't connect with you like mammals do.

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