Sunday, July 1, 2007

Shark Attack

I´m on Cocos Island photographing sharks and shark poachers for my project that I´m working on with National Geographic, and on my last night on the Island, after a full day of diving with massive schools of sharks, we decide to do a night dive and hopefully catch one of the more impressive congregations of sharks, a feeding frenzy. There is a pretty reliable group of perhaps 200 white tip reef sharks, each between 5 to 7 feet long that come into the particular bay that we were diving in every night.

After about 45 minutes of taking photographs of these sharks searching every crevice in the reef for fish, I began to get a little to comfortable... I allowed myself to descend into the school which stuck pretty close to the bottom, and was mostly left alone except for one of the bigger sharks that rushed me, and was successfully discouraged when it ran into my big metal camera housing.

Perhaps 20 minutes later, just as we were about to resurface, I was alone on the bottom perhaps 50 feet underwater, behind me a huge boulder hid the sharks from my view and I hoped me from them. The sharks swarmed around the boulder, and I was instantly in the midst of hundreds of sharks! One of the larger ones, obviously a leader in the pack came up from behind and latched onto my foot from the side, and began to thrash about. I put a good kick into it´s nose a couple of times and it finally released me and took off, seeing it run must have discouraged the other sharks, because they all turned and swam a safe distance away, I dashed up about 15 feet to get above the school, and then looked down to assess the damage done to my foot. I count myself extremely lucky, because the fin was torn not an inch from my flesh, and the thick rubber together with a neoprene boot had stopped the sharks teeth from penetrating too deep, and left me unscathed. This seemed the perfect time to end the dive!