I’m stood on the edge of a boat just off the coast of Fiji, watching a thunder storm rumbling towards us. I am shaking like a leaf and feeling very sick oddly due to my fear of diving and not due to the fact that I’m about to jump into shark infested waters in the hope of meeting several species of shark, including Tiger sharks. They are said to be one of the most vicious and the second most deadly to humans in the world (following Great Whites of course). After spending my time in Australia having it drummed into my head that these guys don’t mess about and taking countless precautions to prevent meeting one, I am feeling a little silly to say the least jumping straight into their territory with no form of protection…
But Ive always wanted to dive with sharks, and I know most people can’t think of anything less they’d rather be doing, anything less they’d like to spend their hard earned cash on, and let’s be honest it’s not exactly a ‘budget’ activity, but for some reason it’s always appealed to me. Unlike scuba diving which has always scared the living daylights out of me, from my first dive towards my PADI open water qualification off the coast of Kho Phangan, Thailand I have got a panicky suffocated feeling right before I dive, and every single time all that is running through my head is ‘Why the hell am I doing this.. again’ It seems I never learn my lesson but it also seems its worth enduring that feeling for the duration of the boat ride and the first half of the dive as I slowly relax because there is nothing like watching a school of fish swim around you or a turtle lazily swimming past (Finding Nemo’s representation of a turtle is uncannily factual). None of this is helped by the fact that I get sea sick, really sea sick, actually I get boat, car, plane, train, anything-that-moves sick, and spending the journey out to the dive site throwing up makes it extremely hard for me to enjoy any dive. And yet there I was back in the same situation stood on the side of a boat thinking ‘Why the hell am I doing this’. To make the situation worse out of the corner of my eye I could see one of the dive instructors pulling on a chainmail arm piece, just as I was jumping blindly into the dark water all I could think was “where’s mine?”.As we descend into the depths of the water, I actually start to feel safer than ever with a staff of 8 dive instructors, researchers and various other members of crew there by my side guiding me to the right depth, signalling me to lay flat on the sea bed and keep my hands tucked under my body (we were told before the dive to keep all limbs close at all times and to keep hands and arms tucked into our chest else we may not be returning with them… Reassuring!). We laid there for a few minutes watching a tonne of bait being tipped in around us, gradually just out of clear visibility we began to see huge shadows circling us and suddenly there they all were, Tigers, Bulls, White tips, Black tips all swimming around us going about their business. For all the hype about the aggressive nature of sharks I honestly can’t say I have ever seen a more graceful and elegant creature. It was a breath taking sight and one I’ll never forget. We spent time laying or sitting in 3 areas at 3 different depths, some of the sharks followed us between these areas and new species joined at the various depths. However it wasn’t only sharks we saw, as we were sat incredibly still other fish began to get curious and come right up to us to check us out, within 10 minutes of being sat on the bottom we were surrounded by a whole variety of species of fish swimming right in front of our masks. We also did a short tour of the reef before returning to the surface where we saw turtles, moray eels and loads of fish finishing off the smaller bits of bait that the sharks had missed. We returned to the boat after this hearts pumping, grinning insanely. The dive surpassed all my expectations, it was an amazing experience on every level, if you ever have the opportunity don’t pass it up! I will be recommending Beqa Adventure Divers and this dive to anyone who will listen for years to come, they are an amazing company who also carry out shark research and preservation alongside their diving tours and I have never felt so secure and at ease on a dive anywhere… And if you’re wondering; am I still petrified of diving? Did I get sea sick? Would I do it again? The answer is yes I threw up all over the boat and continued to do so all the way home, yes I was still shaking when I got out and yes diving still scares the living daylights out of me, however was I grinning like a Cheshire cat for the rest of the day? Definitely. Am I still grinning like a Cheshire cat thinking about it now? Certainly. Would I do it again? Absolutely.