JBL Hai-Workshop Bahamy 2018

First encounters with sharks

Most of us have already dived with sharks or have seen some of them while snorkelling. We all find sharks fascinating, but getting into the water with them is a completely different feeling to getting into the water with dolphins. It's amazing what movies like Jaws have triggered in us! Everyone expects them to pounce on us as soon as we enter the water. “Don’t jump in," Erich said. It could scare away the sharks or even make them think that a big piece of fish is being thrown into the water. They could come rushing and biting before they realize it's not fish. So get into the water slowly.

There are eight Caribbean reef sharks swimming around us. They are between 1.20 and 2.5 meters long. They are swimming peacefully, as far as I can tell. We have not yet received any lessons on how to interpret the behaviour of sharks. Slowly I dive 12 meters deep to the sandy bottom. Most of the divers and our 3 snorkelers are still at the water surface.

The sharks do not pay attention to me and stay with all the people at the surface. Only when they dive, do the sharks accompany them down. Like dogs on a leash, they follow the divers. More and more of them join in.

Once all the divers have reached the ground, the guys in the boat let down a basket on a rope. It’s full of fish heads. This brings some movement amongst the sharks who swim purposefully to the basket, trying to snatch pieces of fish from the plastic basket. They cannot bite through the basket, but by shaking it, small pieces of fish come loose. Their greed causes them to huddle at the basket. Each of them is trying to get more than their peers.

I'm getting closer and closer to the feed basket with my camera and am in the middle of the sharks who touch and jostle me because I'm in their way. Nevertheless, not a single shark bites me. I feel more like an obstacle. The photos turn out really well and the whole thing is a unique experience. Erich Ritter has been watching the whole scene and later says to me: "If you haven’t got any good shark pictures by now, you’re in the wrong hobby, don’t you think?" And he is right!

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