The first days glimpse had been brief and obscure, a ghostly shape drifting into the brightly lit water as the crowds churned. The second day we swam out and had better luck, as one larger than me, swam slowly past me through the coral channel. Confident and completely at ease in its environment, the grey skin dappled as the sunlight played on it, the incongruous Golden Trevalley pattering desperately to keep up.
Fired up, we decided to go even earlier, waking as the sun gleamed freshly minted across the East Coast. Excited we donned our masks, snorkels and fins and swam over the shallow coral, where the scattered branches dropped off into the range of two to three meters of water. Nothing moved on the seascape apart from the circle of snorkelers, breathing in and out, the gobys flitting discreetly amongst the branching coral and the steady rhythm of the ocean surge.
Then, out of the blue they were there. One minute the waters were empty, the next minute, they were right next to us. Eight shapes, sinuously weaving through the water with effortless grace, the black tips on their dorsal fins contrasting with the gunmetal grey of their bodies. We had obviously come early enough to catch them still on hunting mode and the Black Tip Shark pack moved purposefully over the reef, skimming the coral. They moved with such speed that you never really saw them coming until they were within a few meters. Social conditioning caused a small twinge of fear, especially when one individual circled for a closer look at me, one eye resolutely on me.
Ancient, the world’s oldest and most perfect predator yet only curious about these ungainly forms in its territory. They said I should be mortally scared of them, but all I felt as I swam with the sharks was….Awe.
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