black-tipped 1 crazygallery.info

A better look at a black-tipped shark. Photo courtesy of crazygallery.info.

The snorkeling in the lagoon here is good in places – many varieties of coral, a marvelous mix of brightly colored and oddly shaped fish, clams, crabs, eels. And sharks. Predominantly black-tipped sharks, but also gray sharks and at least one other species as well. Thus far I’ve seen only black-tipped, the largest being about four feet long and the smallest being foot-long babies swimming in the rivulets that connect the outer reef with the lagoon.

One book described black-tipped sharks as “usually not aggressive.” Usually? And Jess, a local cruiser and diver with much shark experience, explained that black-tipped sharks aren’t aggressive but what with last year’s powerful El Niño having warmed the water and diminished the local food supply, they “might be a little hungrier than usual these days.” They seem to hang out in groups – if you see one, look around a bit and you’ll likely see a few others as well. And when you step into one of the rivulets, the baby sharks, shy though they reportedly are, rush over to see what all the commotion is.

Hmmm. Gives a person, at least this person, pause. I’ve done a bit of snorkeling here but find that seeing sharks, even 3- and 4-footers that usually aren’t aggressive, in the water with me makes me nervous enough that I’m not able to enjoy the coral and reef fish. My fear is strong enough to get me out of the water straightaway and leave me with not the slightest interest in working to overcome it. If that makes me a weenie, oh well, then I’m a weenie.

black-tipped 2 c Mary O'Malley

Another good portrait of a black-tip. Photo copyright Mary O’Malley.

2 Responses to “Sharks”

  • Philip says:

    Yes! I met several Tuamotans who were very casual about sharks and showed me gruesome sharkbite scars.

    On one snorkel trip a boatmate noticed gray sharks starting to accumulate 20 feet or so below him in the water. Then one shark approached him from below to challenge. He said he basically shot out of the water and into the dinghy as though he had been shot from a gun. Yow…

  • Jackie says:

    Love it! I walked on water when I ,literally, came face to face with a 5ft Black Tip. The caretaker at Suwarrow laughed when I said I had read they were not aggressive and then showed me his massive scar on his leg – care of a Black Tip! I have terrible trouble getting in the ocean now at all! What a wimp! 🙂