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Diving with Bull Sharks

Hey everyone, I’m finally back from my vacation to Mexico.  It was a much needed break and I got a healthy balance of rest and relaxation as well as adventure time. 

vlcsnap-2017-02-09-11h48m18s938For those that have never visited Cancun or the Riviera Maya, it is an absolutely gorgeous spot and most importantly it is relatively inexpensive to visit.  All-inclusive resorts line the coast and I’ve never been to one that was less than amazing.

 

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In addition to the resorts themselves, there are all kinds of outdoor excursions you can do which range from Mayan Ruins to Animal Sanctuaries to extreme sports parks.  This time around I didn’t do any of those, mainly because I’ve done them on past visits, and I wanted to spend more time diving - which I am sure is of more interest to you guys.

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I did a total of three dives, the first was a reef dive, the second was an unfed shark dive, and the last one was the really big shark dive where they were being fed.

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The reef dive was just ok.  I didn’t see a ton of coral in this section of the reef, but there were some cool large sponges and I saw some bigger critters.  This dive was a bit of a struggle for me because the mask I got was just taking on water the whole time.  For those that are unfamiliar with diving, it’s not completely uncommon for water to get into your mask while you are down there.  You can clear your mask by blowing air out your nose and pushing the water out.  It’s an important technique because once you are down to about 60’ like we are here, you can’t just swim to the surface because of the pressurized air you’ve been breathing.  It will expand and you will not have a good time as your lungs get overloaded.

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vlcsnap-2017-02-09-11h51m19s605Also, there is nitrogen in your blood that will come out of solution and foam your blood which causes incredible pain called the bends that could super kill you if you shoot to the surface.  Long story short, most of the problems you encounter under water you have to deal with underwater, and a leaky mask is the least of your problems.  So why am I complaining about it?  This mask was leaking a lot.  Normally I would have to clear a mask once or twice, but this was taking on so much water that just blowing out out would get it into my nasal passage and into my eyes.  It was so bad that I just resigned myself to just exhaling out of my nose the whole dive to constantly clear my mask.  It was awful.

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On the second dive, we shot straight to the bottom and basically hoped to see a shark.  If one didn’t show up after 10 min, we would continue on to another reef patch, but we definitely saw something.  The dive master pointed over to my left and the first thing I saw was a couple large remoras, which I thought he was pointing at but then I saw this really big bull shark come out from the distance.  If I had to guess, she was 8’ in length and did about 10 passes around us.

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I learned that all the bull sharks in this area are female and most are pregnant.  They come down south to feed and give birth while the males stay in the north.  Bull sharks are cannibalistic and these females would eat the smaller males if given the chance.

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The strangest feeling though about this dive was when the shark was going to do a close pass, I felt like the current was sucking me in towards her.  It was definitely eerie feeling because I didn’t want to wind up right in her path.

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Up to this point I’ve done two dives and my camera worked just fine.  Unfortunately, something about this last dive totally screwed up.  All the buttons worked EXCEPT the record button.  It must have been something to do with the pressure as this dive was deeper than the others that made the housing malfunction.  I probably tried to press that stupid record button 100 times and it didn’t do anything.  The thing is, once I got back on the boat the camera turned on just fine.  I’m chalking this one up to pressure so next time I’m just going to turn the camera on at the surface and record the whole damn time.

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I’ve wanted to do this bull shark dive in Playa del Carmen for a while now.  I wasn’t eligible in the past because not only do they want you to be certified, but they prefer you have at least 30 logged dives so the dive company would be more confident that you would not panic and screw up the dive for everyone.  It’s also an 80’ deep dive which is on the deep end for a typical recreational diver.

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I don’t know if the video captures how close these sharks come to us lined up there.  There were several times that a shark was within a foot or two of my face mask.  The guy on the end afterwards said he got bumped about 10 times by sharks coming around and he had to do everything in his power not to freak out because these things are really big.  If you’re certified in diving, I highly recommend the bull shark dive.  It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be and I would probably do it again in the future.

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That about does it from here.  It was a great trip down to Mexico and I’m already looking forward to going back.

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Than Thein

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