Eye to Eye with a Great White - a Photo Essay
|| Awesome as watching White Sharks from the surface is, the experience
cannot compare to 'meeting' these animals underwater. Until you have
been eye-to-eye with a Great White - if only from within the
protective confines of a shark cage - you cannot truly appreciate the
mind behind the jaws.
|One may speak glibly of
a White Shark that is 12 or 14 or even 16 feet (3.7 or 4.3 or even 5 metres)
long, but until you are in the water next to one, the figures are
meaningless and without implication. The bodily bulk of these animals is
simply enormous. It is difficult to think of what you are looking at
as a fish -- it more closely resembles a city bus with fins. Yet it
moves with the supreme fluid grace of a creature unbound by gravity or
drag. It is a specter, a ghost -- yet undoubtedly solid and capable of
affecting the living.
||Closer and closer the
animal comes, resolving out of the greenish underwater haze like a magician
from a cloud of smoke. Sleek. Muscular. Powerful.
Yet strangely stand-offish ... even timid. It seems ludicrous
that an animal many times your size -- one with toothy jaws that could crush
you to jelly about as easily as you might crush a blade of grass underfoot
-- would be so skittish. And yet this notorious 'monster' of myth and
legend approaches very carefully, flicking away at the slightest of your
|The animal circles yet
again, gliding in from another direction. Although the water is cold,
you try to be very still. You try to avoid eye contact, to avoid
making the shark any more skittish than it already is, but you cannot help
yourself. There is something intolerable about knowing one of the
sea's the most amazing predators is very near yet being unable to see
it. So you sneak a peek -- and, in response, off it zooms again.
Frustration! Agony! Yet you are intensely excited.
long last, the animal screws up its courage enough to investigate the
baits. There it is: the Great White Shark of which you
had seen and heard so much. It's strange: the animal looks
exactly like the countless photos and films you've seen, but it
doesn't 'feel' quite like you expected. It carries a sort
of calm, self-assured majesty. Charisma. It's almost as
though this animal 'knows' it's a superstar.
|As the animal moves in even closer, you can -- for the first time --
look directly into its eyes. They are not the
'featureless, black portholes' they have been described to be.
You can clearly see structure there -- pale rim, dark iris and black,
circular pupil. As the shark swim past you, its eye rotates in
the socket to keep you in view. As you strain to maintain eye
contact, an unexpected thought suddenly resolves into sharp
focus: there is a mind behind the most famous jaws in the world.
This is not a mere 'stupid' fish, but a sentient being, as curious
about you as you are of it. With that, your encounter is
slapped shut as the crescent-shaped tail propels the shark back into
the gloom from whence it came ...