If you are like most of the world, your bucket list will probably include things like seeing the Great Wall of China or going skydiving. However, if you are an adrenaline junkie, skydiving is like taking a walk in the park. Diving with sharks, however, takes things up a notch. But then you get the extremist who disregards all the rules of sanity and decides to jump into shark-infested waters…without a cage.
Getting the myths out of the way
If you have never heard of the movie Jaws, then you are in serious need of some catching up. The great killers of the deep are nature’s silent assassins, armed with rows of razor-sharp teeth waiting to rip their prey to shreds. The truth is that although sharks are by far some of the most fierce-looking creatures out there, they have been wrongfully labeled as ruthless killers.
Shark attacks are extremely rare and mainly a case of mistaken identity. They would much rather avoid people entirely, but when you paddle on a surfboard, you could be mistaken for a yummy seal.
If you still feel a bit uneasy about the nature of these aquatic killers, you need to consider that you have a better chance of being:
- Killed by a dog.
- Struck by lightning.
- Stung by bees and dying.
- Being the victim of a cannibalistic attack.
- Dying from taking a fall in your own home.
- Killed by a falling coconut.
Getting your adrenaline fix
If you are an adrenaline junkie looking for your next fix of exhilaration, then look no further than Fiji. Off the coast of the island of Beqa, you can find an aquatic playground better known as Shark Reef Marine Reserve. Here, you can swim with up to eight different species of sharks — all without the confines of the cage.
Beqa Adventure Divers are your go-to providers of a trip to dive with sharks at the marine reserve. Apart from the exhilaration of the experience, you will be contributing toward shark research and compensating the locals for their lost fishing grounds.
Take it from the newbie
Somehow, it doesn’t matter how many stats get thrown your way on how rare shark attacks are. Your stomach is still in knots when you jump into the water for the first time. No matter how safe they make it sound, deep down you know that if that shark decides to have a go at you, there is nothing you can do. You are in its territory, and compared to the shark, you don’t know the first thing about swimming.
The only thing that calms you down is the fact that when you take the plunge in Beqa, you do it with veterans. Knowing that they have been doing this for 10 years without any hiccups takes a bit of the edge off.
When you walk down the street and you see a seven-foot-tall person, you kind of feel intimidated. You think that is not a person you would want to mess with. Add a couple of feet and a couple of rows of razor-sharp teeth, and the intimidation turns into outright fear.
When you go for a cage-free dive at Beqa, you come face to face with 8-15-foot bull sharks and even a tiger shark or two. Both of these sharks have a history of attacking humans, although these attacks are very rare. Still, it’s a humbling experience to jump into those waters and know that you are at their mercy.
Going deep with the locals
Once you are on site, you take a 100-foot dive to a coral wall that overlooks a sandy pit. The local Fijian takes out the bait, and within minutes, you are surrounded by a collection of Jacks, Black Tips, Nurses and Grey Reef sharks. At four to six feet in length, you can’t help but feel a bit uneasy at first.
Not long after the juniors arrive, the big boys join the party. Not very far off, the 10-foot bull sharks make their rounds. They keep a respectable distance, but seeing their massive frames glide through the water makes you appreciate their stigma so much more. They truly are fierce-looking but beautiful creatures.
After a couple of minutes in the thick of things, you make your way back up to 30 feet. The Fijians are always on the lookout for over-excited sharks and keep them at bay with long aluminum poles. They are very much aware of the possible dangers, and this seems to calm you down while you admire the killers of the deep.