Hawaii! Part 6: Shark Diving!
Brian REALLY wanted to do a shark dive while we were in Hawaii, but the only place it was available was on Oahu which wasn't one of the islands we were staying on. Originally, I thought we were going to have to book a whole separate flight between islands just for this dive, but then we found out that when flying between islands we'd have to stop there anyway for a layover. So, we decided to make a day of it and spend most of the afternoon there. We had our shark dive scheduled for late morning and then planned on going to Pearl Harbor.
I was a nervous wreck before the dive. I hid it well, but I was secretly sure that the sharks were going to attack our boat or eat us while we were diving and we were going to be all over the news -- "Tourists die after a rare shark attack in Hawaii. More on the 6 o'clock news." Although, it wouldn't have been so rare because we heard about two shark attacks off the coast of Maui just the week before we got there!
We boarded the boat -- right after the previous tour group got off, all limbs in tact, which was comforting -- and went about 4 miles off shore they said.
This was our cage. They tether it to the ground about 700ft down every single morning, and take it back up after the last tour at the end of the day. The cage itself was about 7ft deep, so you could go under the water but you just needed snorkel gear because it wasn't super deep and you could come back up whenever you wanted.
The first glimpses of the sharks were pretty crazy. Like, "Holy *&^$ did you see that?! OMG what are we doing?!"
They broke us up into two groups because the cage could only hold about 7 people at a time. The 4 of us were in the 2nd group. Kind of sucked because a huge pod of dolphins swam by and the group in the cage said they could hear and see them under the water. They swam right under us!
Yep those are dolphins, not sharks! And apparently the dolphins aren't intimidated by the sharks which I was happy about.I guess they actually get along pretty well.. at least those dolphins with that type of shark.
You know how in like Florida or along the gulf coast if you go on a "dolphin cruise" with the guarantee that you MIGHT see some dolphins but you usually don't, and if you do they're like WAY out in the distance and see you like one, or something you think might be a dolphin... that's not how it is in Hawaii. You see them everywhere. Even on boats that guarantee you see sharks, not dolphins. And they are RIGHT next to you. If you're ever in Hawaii and have the opportunity to go on a "dolphin cruise" DO IT. We didn't, but I can pretty much guarantee you will see approximately 1,234,987 dolphins.
Moving on. This post is about sharks. (I just like dolphins better)
Since we were in the 2nd group, we had the whole time during the first group's dive to talk to the boat captain and 1st mate. I learned that these sharks that we were seeing (mostly galapagos sharks) weren't typically "man-eating" sharks. They may be aggressive towards humans, but typically won't eat them. I figured it was probably a good thing as well that these sharks are probably used to these tour groups. I, surprisingly, wasn't as afraid once we got in the cage. It almost didn't seem real, even though the cage was open (without glass around it), and the sharks were literally 2ft away from us.
It was SO hard to get good pictures down there though! The water was actually pretty rocky at some points and it felt kind of like we were in a washing machine, without the soap.
We survived though, and so did everyone else in our group :)
Shark diving was pretty sweet! It was awesome to conquer one of my fears up close and personal. I do feel like I'm not as scared of sharks now since I know more about them. However, I was still pretty leery of surfing in Maui because of the recent reported shark attacks, so I didn't. Sharks in a somewhat controlled environment = cool, sharks when they sneak up on you and bite your arm off for a snack = not cool.
Highly recommend shark diving. Awesome experience.