Friday might have been the best day I ever had at work. From my remote “office” on a reef in the Bahamas, I saw the cutest baby sea turtle, a 6-ft. stingray and my very first shark - a 3-ft. blacktip - among other types of fluorescent fish and teeny tiny crustaceans. We completed various exercises on our two dives, and Junkanoo, our dive instructor’s giant “pet” grouper, floated next to us and gaped at us inquisitively as we checked off the different skills we had to master in order to earn certification.
Saturday was even better. Junkanoo joined us for class again, and I aced all my tests. If that weren’t exhilarating enough, I also saw two beautiful and deadly Pacific Lionfish, a dozen brooding, massive tarpon, two 5-ft. barracuda and my first big honking SHARK.
We had just swam from a coral-enclosed circle of sand within the reef through a passageway and over to the outside wall. Visibility was great and we were hanging out at a depth of 50 ft. near the bottom of the reef wall. Instead of checking out the awesome brain and fire coral on the wall, I decided to turn around to face the open water… all I could see was white sand and the shadow of a few little fish about 30 feet or so in the distance. As I scanned the vast blue curtain of ocean, the 6+ foot blacktip appeared, his movements smooth, slow and constant. My eyes got about as wide as the shark’s body was long, and for the briefest moment I thought for sure I was lunch... but once I realized he had no interest in me, I was just excited!
Wanting to share the moment, I turned behind me to get someone’s attention – anyone! Not being able to yell, I waved my arms and flagged down one of the journalists, taking care not to flail like an injured sea creature. I made the hand sign for “shark”- an open palm on top of the head like a dorsal fin and signaled with my hands that it was “this big!” My dive buddy looked up but as quickly as the shark swam into view, he had gone.
Being back in the real office just doesn't seem to cut it after that...