This is the first one of thematic posts about my dives (yes, because this is the main topic of these pages, really, not my random ramblings about other stuff). So I have decided to do the following: dig in my logbooks once in a while and pick up a memorable dive, and tell you about it. Memorable as in good (or bad, it happens), or for any reasons really. Not sure whether there is a story worth telling for each and every one of them…but since there are enough of them to do a post per week for a few years, I’ll start with the best stories!
The one with the BIG sharks - Mauritius – passe St Jacques – 10th Feb 2011
Dive parameters: max depth 23m, dive time 48 mn
I am vacationing in Mauritius and we are getting wet almost every day, on the North West coast. It is low season, the dive center is pretty quiet and the guy running it has been super nice so far. After a few days of diving the house reef (good dives by the way), he asks us very matter-of-factly if we would be happy to travel a bit further and see big stuff. Mmm, I don’t see how I could say no to that… Sure, bring it on!
So the following day, we get up at 5am (ouch) and stuff a minivan with gear, a dozen of tanks and us, and drive down all the way to the south of the island. After 3 hours of a very bumpy ride, we get to a random spot on a beach in the middle of nowhere, with a small speed boat waiting for us. No buildings, no shops or stalls, no nothing. OK, so today is commando style diving ? No problem, look at me getting changed on the side of the road and offering the locals a treat. Sorry, guys.
We get geared up, get on this boat, and reach out for the break in the reef. While going there, our guide explains: we are going to drop very shallow between 3 and 5 meters on top of the reef, we need to go down straight away and fast because of the current will suck us inside this channel, the “Passe St Jacques”, where we’ll try to get a grip somewhere to be able to stop and look at stuff, and then drift toward the open sea. The little voice in my head goes “Ok Elenita, this is not the day to have issues equalizing. Eardrums, you’d better do the job.”
The boat stops, engines slows down, everybody signals they are good to go, and we jump in. We get down, my ears seem to have heard my message OK, bless them. We swim towards the channel, and HOLY FUCK, he was not lying about the current. We get dragged in the channel at a speed that will later make my buddy say “I felt like a pair of knickers in a washing machine”, one behind the other, and our guide points at some of the rocks around to make us understand that we need to reach out for whatever we can grab.
I find a decent piece of rock without much coral on the bottom, grab it out and lay flat as much as I can. My mask is pressed to my face and it feels like my eyes are going to burst out. They are bursting out a few seconds later, but only because the show starts: a huge school of barracudas swim against the current in the channel, hunting. A few big marble rays float around on top of our heads, and then the tunas show up. It is clearly fish buffet around here for the hunters. After a while of this awesomeness, we release rocks and keep drifting towards the open ocean. At the end of the channel, we are at a depth of around 20m (yes, not a very conservative profile that was), and the current dies down on a sandy area. We find a few stingrays lying there, pretty big, we keep sneaking into the little holes in the reef around the sand patch.
All the sudden, I hear someone shouting in a reg. I turn around, follow the fingers, and… HELLOOOO, BULL SHARKS. Three of them, big, swimming around on the sandy bottom, looking chilled and relaxed. Freakingly big, actually, and so massive. They made me feel so tiny within a split second (I mean, even tinier than my usual tiny self). These are the emperors of the ocean, let me tell you. If my dreams come true and I reincarnate into a fish one day, I will NOT mess with a bull shark (unless I come back as a remora, of course. And then I’ll be the tiny one with the big bully friend and that’ll be super awesome and make up for all the school years when I was only the tiny one).
I have to admit, when one of the divers signaled for low on air, I called him really nasty names inside my head. I just wanted to stay there, lying on my stomach, looking at these pretty predators. But hey, we had to surface.
(and yes I know my picture is shit, but I was not going to go and tickle it to get a good shot. The fact that it’s so bad most certainly proves that I took it.)
We came back, exhilarated, changed tanks, had a surface break and dove the exact same dive an hour later. The sharks were gone, off to take care of their shark business, I suppose. Being kings of the ocean and chilling out, snacking some fish, or something.
I haven’t seen one since that day, first and only time so far (sharks, yes, but no bull sharks). And frankly, I can’t wait for the next one.