“Oh. My. God!”
“That is so cool!”
Those are some of the things you hear people screaming while they are in a narrow metal barred cage submerged in great white shark infested waters.
When you see arguably the scariest animal in the world swimming around you, you revert back to that little kid only capable of short exclamatory phrases and strange sounds. But honestly, who the hell cares what you sound like when all you are focused on is the totally evil shark face heading straight at you?
I was scared out of my mind. I was nervous watching the fins surface around the boat while putting on my wetsuit. And I was terrified when a particularly big wave knocked the boat and I came dangerously close to stumbling overboard. But as I stood on the edge of the boat getting ready to slide into the cage I was calm. I knew I was going in, so why be scared at that moment? This nonchalant attitude was a futile attempt at appearing brave because the fear I felt before paled in comparison to how I felt in the cage.
The Captain’s description of being in the cage as “just chillin” proved to be completely false. I floated there with a death grip on the yellow rope. I was acutely aware of where every body part was and made sure that my foot wasn’t drifting out of the cage and that my head wasn’t accidentally popping in between the metal bars as I was examining the position of my extremities. Paranoid does not begin to describe me in that cage.
As paranoid as I was, when I heard the captain screaming, “duck left”, to see the sharks I immediately submerged my head and stared towards the left, awestruck by how beautifully terrifying these animals were. Then as they swam towards the cage getting ready to attack, the bait dangling 2 feet in front of my face, I snapped out of my trance and thought “oh no, CRAP!!!” Most of the time they missed the bait and swam away, at which point I would come up for air screaming, wooing, and celebrating acting like I had won some battle with the great white. “Down right!”, and down I went to stare at a 12-foot shark as he missed the bait chomping down on my cage. Well, no celebrating this time. After pausing for a second blinded by the bubbles surrounding my face from the big guy’s thrashing, I was staring at never-ending rows of massive, triangular teeth 6 inches from my face. Up I went gasping for air screaming, “it wants my face!” (yet smiling like crazy).
Out of the 14 different great white sharks we saw, none managed to get my face, and I like to think it is because I valiantly and skillfully fended them off. I have yet to find someone who believes me… so maybe I should give the cage some credit.