|Our first dive on Monday morning would be Tiputa Pass. We were picked up at the hotel by our divemaster and after a short ride on the Zodiac dive boat we arrived at the dive shop. There we met Stephen who would be our divemaster for the dive. He was very nice and a good dive buddy, helpful and friendly. On the ride to the dive site through Tiputa pass you nestled your tank between your legs and held it securely through the waves. Anne would later find a sizable bruise on her leg from being hit by the tank as it was jostled around by the rocking.
Arriving at the dive site, Shark Point, we were briefed by Stephen. Our dive plan called for us to enter the water and descend, free fall, to about 75 feet. The current was very strong so staying in one place for any length of time would be impossible. We back-flipped into the water and by the time I righted myself to return to the boat for my camera I had already drifted ten feet from the boat. I managed to grab the camera and, with Anne already in the water, began my descent. I wasn't fully prepared for what came next.
The descent was fast and without problems. Soon we were at 75 feet and holding onto some coral to keep the current from taking us away. After I steadied myself and took a look around I was amazed that we were in the midst of 10 to 15 gray reef sharks, each somewhere between four and six feet long. When we first arrived they came in fairly close to inspect us. Satisfied that we were not a threat and, thankfully, not on the menu for the day, they moved away. They were never far away and stayed with us throughout the dive. It was amazing to see them against the dark blue of the deep water in the pass, their slim and sleek bodies cutting so easily through the water.
Now, what was totally amazing about this was Anne's and my reaction. This is the first time we have been in the company of so many sharks. We've seen singles before, but not 10 to 15, and, believe it or not, we were totally calm and without fear. No cold chills, no shutters, and no worrying. It was a wonderful and peaceful feeling watching these majestic creatures so close by. After a few minutes of being amazed by their presence we began to enjoy our dive and the other tropical fish that were, by now, swarming around us.
Because of the limited dives I don't have that many pictures. Hopefully you will enjoy the few that I did manage to take before I was downed by that #%?#@ cold.
|Anne, in one of her typical ballet moves, trying to ask me if I saw how big those sharks were.
Anne is really remarkable. Just five years ago she was a non-swimmer and wouldn't go near the water. Today she is a committed and accomplished diver. She would later confide in me that she was comfortable when the sharks were around us in a large group, but was a bit leery when she'd see a single shark swim close by. She wondered to herself if she should keep her arms in close to her body. Judging by this picture she didn't do that!
|The triggerfish in French Polynesia were absolutely beautiful and quite large. I spent quite a bit of time chasing them and trying to get a good picture. Unfortunately they were pretty good at out swimming me and hiding in areas inaccessible to me.|
|Orange Lined Triggerfish||Large Box Fish|
|This triggerfish did manage to stay nearby long enough for me to get this head on shot. The colors were just beautiful, varying shades of greens and blues, and he was quite large. I wish I could have gotten a few more good shots of him, but the flash sent him scurrying off much faster than I could go.|
|This guy, a Napoleon fish, was absolutely magnificent. When we hit the 75 foot mark on our first dive he was there waiting for a hand out. I don't know if Stephan, our divemaster, brought any food along, but he was persistent and would swim right into your face to let you know he wanted something. As the picture shows he was massive. Probably three to four feet long and two and a half to three feet wide. But he was friendly. I'm surprised a fish of his size was so comfortable with all the sharks hanging around. He looked like he'd have made a good dinner for one of them.|
|Speaking of sharks: I mentioned that we were greeted by many on our first dive, but there are no pictures. I was totally surprised by them when I arrived at the bottom I enjoyed looking at them. By the time I thought of taking a picture of them, they had moved off further than I thought the flash would carry so I didn't take any pictures of them. But, Anne and I do have video pictures taken by the divemaster of us in the group of sharks. Just so you won't be disappointed, here's a picture of a gray reef shark taken while snorkeling in 5 foot of water. The camera was focused on 4 feet. Is the picture sharp? When I look at this shark's eye I have no trouble understanding that they are killing machines. To me the eye appears very small and cold, almost lifeless.|
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