Thursday, December 2, 2010

Swimming with Sharks

Luke and John went home for Thanksgiving, which left all 42 feet of El Tiburon to me, Andrew and Kitty. All of a sudden the boat felt spacious! But Luke and John were sorely missed, especially when Andrew and I spent three whole days scrubbing the boat. We bought some Oxalic acid with which to clean our teak decks and the transformation was amazing! After Andrew applied the gentle acid and used a bristle brush on the wood, a muddy mixture oozed off the teak into the scuppers. Previously the teak decks had been a dingy gray color but they are now a lovely shade of tan. Then I scrubbed all the scuff marks off the fiberglass with boat soap and a nubby sponge until she was gleaming white. El Tiburon had quite the makeover and she looked like a new boat! We wondered if John and Luke would recognize her.

For a break we went snorkeling with the whale sharks in La Paz bay. A skiff picked us up at the end of our dock and we traveled 10 minutes away to a spot near El Magote (sandy island in the middle of the bay) where hoards of whale sharks congregate to feed on the plankton there. These creatures are huge. HUGE.

When they aren’t swimming, they float perpendicularly in the water with their huge mouths agape, waiting for plankton to swarm in.

Swimming with them is incredible. They are docile and tolerant of snorkelers, but watch out for that tail! If they feel pestered they may whack you with it as they swim off.

Andrew turned out to be a veritable shark whisperer, as the sharks seemed to like him best and even seek him out. A few of us watched from the boat as he swam beside one big shark, taking underwater photos of his spots. From above, we could see another whale shark coming right towards him, but with all the plankton in the water we knew he wouldn’t be able to see it approaching. When the second shark was maybe a foot away we watched his whole body jerk in startled reaction to discovering a giant shark mouth opened at his torso. Swimming with these massive fish was definitely a peak experience, and not to be missed.

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