Not far from the sharks

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

  • Redang Island is a tourist hotspot for sure, but thanks to my friend and travel companion, Will, we’re staying in a tucked away little resort away from the throngs of Chinese tourists who swarm around the popular resort destination of Long Beach.

    This morning I walked along the beach again, and just like last night, I was accompanied only by the sound of the waves. There wasn’t a soul around, I had the entire beach to myself which was far more enjoyable than having to negotiate my way around sunburners, children, and other beach obstacles.

    I like today’s picture, even though it’s very similar to yesterdays. It sums up the pace of the last three days perfectly. However, the picture I almost wish I had for today is somewhat different because today I got to do something that I have always wanted to do; I swam with sharks!

    I decided to swim out from the beach and do some snorkelling at the coral reef not far away, and that’s when I had my first close encounter with a shark. Reef sharks are not a threat to humans and I was very excited to see one up close as it swam serenely beneath me. After that I saw quite a few other sharks swimming around. I also had the chance to swim with a few of giant turtles too. The sea was alive with colourful fish including parrot fish who noisily gnawed at the coral, and a school of large black silver and yellow fish who paid no attention to me as I swam with them. It was truly awesome.

    So impressed was I that after lunch I decided to swim out to the reef again. This time, while I floated around in the water I was suddenly surrounded by a number of sharks. Unlike before they weren’t beneath me, they were right next to me, at the surface, splashing the water with their fins. I’ll admit, I was concerned that I might have indadvertedly done something to upset them so I tried to slowly swim away from them. However, they continued to swim by me very closely at which point I saw a much larger shark on the sea bed. It swam slowly by, turned and came back around, then carried on out of sight at which point the other sharks dispersed.

    Maybe the sharks were curious about me, or maybe they were nervous of the larger shark? I don’t know. All I can tell you is that I have long wanted to swim with sharks and quite unexpectedly I fulfilled that ambition today. Part of me wishes I had rented the underwater camera so as to capture that event. But I’m not sure a picture would have done the experience any justice. Simply to be in the company of those beautiful and awesome creatures was enough for me, and when I see todays picture I’ll always be reminded of the sharks that are just beneath the surface of that beautiful clear blue water.