Shark Bait!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go chummin’ for sharks.  Now a few months ago, I distinctly remember thinking that I would never have a need to do this.  Yet, here I was, sitting on a dive boat, anxiously awaiting that first dorsal fin to break the surface of the water.  “Awaiting” is the key word here.  With water temperatures up several degrees from normal, the sharks were in no hurry to make their presence known.

So, the way this works is, you fill a couple of buckets full of “shark bait” (which is this gross smelling cube of frozen fishy parts) that you purchase for the express purpose of attracting sharks to your boat.  Who would do that, right?  These are placed in the water and anchored behind the boat with a rope.  The buckets are full of small holes, which let the frozen cube slowly melt and waft into the water.  The boat simply bobs around on top the deep blue sea, while you wait for the sharks to appear.

This was around ten in the morning.  Then we waited.  And waited.  Soon it was lunchtime, so we ate some sandwiches.  Then we waited some more.  After lunch, we decided to try to find some cooler water and set off a few miles to the north where we repeated the morning process with the chum buckets.

Blue Shark

Blue Shark

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, the captain called out  “I see a baby blue!”  Woo Hoo!  The shark photo shoot was on!  We hurriedly got in the water–Again, who would do that, right?–And swam toward the bait buckets.  I was looking to the left and to the right, down below and straight ahead, and still I couldn’t see the blue shark.  And then, this little skinny fish emerged out of the blue water and swam right toward me.  That’s it?!  That’s what has had my nerves on end all day?  Suddenly, all apprehension was gone and my camera began to get it’s work-out.  This little guy was only about two feet long and basically all puppy-dog eyes.  I thought he was cute, and sort-of . . . helpless.

Blue shark

Blue shark

After playing around in the water with the shark for a while, we headed back to the boat and waited for big-brother to show up.  Unfortunately, he didn’t smell the invitation, and after a few more hours of waiting, we decided to head back.  At least I can say I have photographed sharks in open water.  Something I recently feared is now crossed off my list of things to overcome.  I look forward to the next time, but still have to admit that I was relieved to be spoon-fed on the little guy.  But next time?  I’ll be ready!

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