Friday, 22 April 2016

S IS FOR SHARK : A-Z Challenge

Welcome to Day 19 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. My theme is:

'Wildlife Encounters'


Here is an edited extract from one of my South African articles which was published in a newspaper in Spain titled 'Facing Fear'. I subsequently wrote a fictional version of this experience which was published on the Cafe Lit Website titled 'Shark Bait'.


Off the coast of Walker Bay, Dyer Island is home to a colony of Cape Fur Seals and the strip of water between the mainland and the island is called Shark Alley.




Our boat was small and the one person cage looked puny, but we were assured that the sharks never attack the cage. It’s the bait they’re interested in, not canned diver.





We lurched out into the choppy water. Eventually the anchor was lowered and the boat sat bucking and bouncing like it was struggling to break free.
Frankie and his crew got to work with tuna bait and a seal decoy. They lowered the cage into the water.

We suited up.  
We waited.
An immense shadowy figure began to circle us. Abruptly it lunged for the bait which Frankie tweaked away to encourage it to stay on the surface and fight for its meal. Spooked, it vanished instead. Another came to investigate the bait.

It was time to go shark cage diving.

I plopped into the bobbing cage, gasping from the freezing water. Unthinking, I hooked my toes through a lower rail in the cage for balance. 

Tension mounted as I waited in the water for a Great White Shark.

Suddenly I realised where my toes were and with a little spurt of fear, jerked them to safety.

After a body numbing aeon, the shout came, ‘Dive down!’

I dropped underwater and there I was, eyeball to eyeball with a Great White Shark. 

This beautiful animal, shimmering and sleek as it sliced through the water inches from the cage made me forget where I was until I realised I needed to breathe.



Great White Shark, South Africa




In the years I have been scuba diving I have had numerous shark encounters.  Despite the bad press, sharks are not scary or dangerous to divers underwater. Shark attacks occur when an animal mistakes a human for prey – all too often it’s surfers who come under attack because the shark thinks the surfer is a seal.



Nurse Shark, Maldives




I have nothing but admiration for these immensely beautiful and important predators in our oceans. 





Grey Reef Shark, Fiji


Scalloped Hammerhead, Fiji






















Oh, yes – and please, please boycott all restaurants which serve shark fin soup so that these animals will finally stop being slaughtered before it is too late!


Great White Shark, South Africa



See you tomorrow – I’m heading north east. Can you guess where and what the next animal will be?


If you want to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click HERE





38 comments:

  1. Yes!! Leave our sharks alone!! Mind you... I have a very simple philosophy... I don't invite them in so I understand they want me to stay out of their domain! ;-)
    Tiger in India? Is that far enough NE for you?? :D
    AJ at Ouch My Back Hurts

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  2. It pains me deeply that humans slaughter these magnificent animals for their fins - and for what? A bowl of disgusting gelatinous slop!

    Tiger? That would be quite an animal to encounter. :)

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  3. They're impressive creatures.

    Don't think I've ever been anywhere which serves shark fin soup, but will makes sure if I see it on the menu that I leave and tell them why.

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  4. Thanks, Patsy. Fortunately shark fin soup is unlikely to be on a written menu in the UK - although I have my suspicions about its availability in London's China Town.

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  5. Beautiful photos. I really love hammerheads in particular. The nurse shark you took a photo of is very striking too. I have been served shark fin's soup here in Singapore, at dinners where I had no control over the menu. Fortunately it has quickly fallen out of vogue in the past few years, largely in thanks to the younger generation who have taken up the cause.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I am partial to all sharks - hammerheads are thrilling to see because they are so strange. The nurse sharks are totally harmless... they don't have teeth. I hope shark fin soup falls completely out of vogue everywhere! Education is the key.

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  6. Shark Week is one of our favorite TV series. Nope. I'd never get int the water with them.

    I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings.
    S is for Sleep Paralysis
    Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

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    1. The only sharks I'd be reluctant to dive with without the safety of a cage are Great Whites and Tiger sharks (although I have been in the water with a Tiger shark in Fiji - it was distant enough to be a thrill rather than a scare.) Otherwise, sharks in general are perfectly fine when you see them underwater.

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  7. Well done Susan! I'm too much afraid to ever try this. Great photos!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed my sharks, Zeljka. (The underwater shots were taken by my husband.)

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    2. You had the courage to enter that cage, it is completely irrelevant who was the photographer :D

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    3. If I'm totally honest, I was more concerned about the coldness of the water... seriously!

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  8. Man is the true thoughtless slaughterer, the senseless predator. Sharks seem beautiful ... at a distance! :-)

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    1. They are incredibly beautiful at any distance, Roland. It's so sad that people are fearful of them - there's really no need. I blame the Jaws movie...!

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  9. I'm so glad I found you! This alphabet just isn't long enough or I don't have the time to get around to all the wonderful sites posting during the challenge.

    I loved what you've written about your experience with sharks. They are maligned and they are being cruelly slaughtered for their fins.

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    1. Hi and welcome! I'm happy to hear you've enjoyed this post. :)

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  10. We sometimes get basking sharks in the water around here. It scares the tourists but they love having a good story to tell when they go home.

    @Kathleen01930
    Meet My Imaginary Friends
    #AtoZchallenge

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    1. I'd love to see a basking shark, they are huge but completely harmless - nothing to get scared about at all.

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  11. I once saw a basking shark that had washed up in Tenerife - such a sad sight on the sand.

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    1. Sad sight indeed, Liz. I wonder how that happened?

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  12. I mean this in the warmest of smiles...you're nuts! :) I admire you for being able to go in the water and be that close to the sharks. I could and would never do that...to scared and I freely admit it. I agree with you that I wish people would stop eating this soup and do other things that will destroy this beautiful fish or any animal for that matter. You got some great photos and i always liked hammerhead sharks.

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    1. That's okay, Birgit - lots of my friends think I'm nuts too, but I promise you I never do anything without due consideration of safety procedures. I really, really wanted to dive with Great Whites, and doing it in a cage was the safe, sensible option.

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  13. I didn't know that people eat sharks! Again, the pictures are beautiful :)

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    1. Jahnavi, it's the shark's fins that get harvested - usually the rest of the animal is thrown back in the water - often the shark is still alive when it's thrown back.

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  14. Amazing story. I'd have to keep reminding myself to breathe too! You were brave, I couldn't do it. But I admire your nerve, and those photographs, simply amazing. Would not eat shark fin soup if it were available, but I'm too far inland. I doubt any restaurant near me would serve it. Is that really all they take from the animal, the fin? I mean isn't the rest of it edible? Unbelievable!

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    1. The fins are the valuable part of the shark, Yolanda - so the people who go out to 'harvest' them don't want to fill up the space in their boat with the rest of the animal. I have seen warehouses in Hong Kong full of dried shark fins - the statistics are horrific.

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  15. I keep far enough away from sharks so that I should be safe even if there would be an unhappy accident. Glad you got to keep all your toes.

    Wasn't aware of the mindless slaughter for shark fin soup. Thanks fort the education.

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  16. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking, hooking my toes on the bars!
    Spread the word about shark slaughter - if we lose these important predators we will destroy the whole underwater eco-system.

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  17. Cool theme. I love sharks. Perhaps T can be for Tiger Shark. Or simply Tigers.

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    1. Hi Jeffrey - thanks for dropping in and glad you like my theme.
      As for Tigers - you'll have to drop in again tomorrow to find out if you're right. :)

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  18. Beautiful pictures! The only sharks that I have seen up close are small reef sharks. But I'm fine with that. ;)

    My guess for T is Tarantula.

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

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    1. Even small reef sharks are lovely though.
      Tarantula, eh?

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  19. Beautiful pictures! All the years I snorkeled in the Virgin Islands, the only shark I ever saw was a nurse shark snoozing on the bottom. Saw plenty of barracuda though...

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  20. Beautiful pictures! All the years I snorkeled in the Virgin Islands, the only shark I ever saw was a nurse shark snoozing on the bottom. Saw plenty of barracuda though...

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    1. Thanks, Bish. Nurse sharks have a tendency to lay down for a snooze (as do white tip reef sharks). Schooling Barracuda are magnificent to see.

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  21. Wow, what an experience! Totally agree re fin soup... sharks kill about 4 people a year, we kill MILLIONS of sharks. Appalling. ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

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  22. The slaughter is horrible, Liz - and you know what's even more disgusting about this practise? The fins don't impart any flavour - they are totally, totally pointless!

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