07 January 2013

Shark Adventure Dives - New Providence, Bahamas December 2012

We stayed at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort which is actually on Cable beach. Whatever. The resort is nice. Free wifi in the lobby and free cable internet in the room. The wifi in the lobby is nice if you need to make a phone call and don't want to be charges roaming charges. Also all local calls are free in the room. The beach sand is fantastic. It's like powered sugar. I've never seen beach sand so fine. I even asked the lifeguards if it was really the natural sand there or if it was trucked in from somewhere. Natural. They said I should travel to Eleuthera someday. The sand there is pink. Downtown Nassau is about a 20 minute bus ride which you can pick up right in front of the hotel. $1.25. Bahamian money is a 1 to 1 with the US dollar. You might get one or the other as change; they are equal but the only time we actually saw any Bahamian currency was when I asked for some at the front desk.

Two afternoon dives were set for the afternoon of our second day there. The dive operator was Stuart Cove's. They are famous. If you've read any scuba dive magazine you've probably heard of them or seen their adds. They have a free shuttle bus that picks you up and returns you to the Sheraton, among other hotels, also! I dove with them back in 2004. It was actually where I did my 3rd and 4th open water certification dives. I've had great experiences on both trips. Since then about 8 years have passed and they're location changed slightly. Still on the same area/side of the island. Leeward side I believe. In 2004 we had to motor out a little canal passed the Bahamian coast guard (?) to the sea. Their new location is along a tiny little canal, just about long enough to hold all their boats and lined with their shop. It opens right to the sea and all our dives were within 15 minutes of the shop. Gear up when you get on the boat. It won't take long.

Today's afternoon dives were part of the "Shark Adventure". You will see sharks! Caribbean reef sharks. They are not man eating. Follow the rules by your guide and you have virtually nothing to fear if you can choke down your natural instincts that is. Back in 2004 the sharks were a little daunting for me but having done those dives then I was fine. It was about 10 minutes out to the site. Both dives are actually located in the same spot, right next to each other. Shark Wall and Shark Arena. Shark Arena is a round sandy area located almost directly below the boat. Shark Wall is about a 60 foot swim away to the South.

Our first dive was Shark Wall. This is sort of a get you in the water and used to the sharks sort of dive to get you prepared for dive 2. We dropped down about 35 feet to Shark Arena and then went on a tour out over the wall. This wall slowly rolls over and drops down something like 6000 feet but my maximum depth was 73. Many sharks were cruising around. We also saw a spotted moray and several lionfish. Yeah, the lionfish are moving in quite well. They do take a pretty picture though. Then we moved back up to Shark Arena to look for shark teeth in the sand for the remainder of the dive. Total time was about 40 minutes and the water temperature was 77F.

For the second dive we returned to Shark Arena, slightly over weighted to stay firmly on the bottom where we sat for nearly an hour watching our guide feed the sharks while two other members of the staff take photos and video of the entire thing. The sharks seem to know before they ever hit the water with the bait. They are everywhere. I would say there were at least 30 sharks there. Most were about 5-6 feet but some looked as large as 8. Only Caribbean reef sharks. I didn't see any others. Oh, and one 2-3 foot grouper waiting around for any scraps. The sharks get close. I got bumped by a few pectoral fins and slapped by a tail. At the end of the dive the "wrangler" swims off with the bait box, most of the sharks follow him and we return to the boat. About 30 minutes later you can be drinking a Bahamian beer at the shop and watching the video.

Here's the video I got from my GoPro - http://youtu.be/X0oTpxvfM1w