Shark Bait

Having Dinner With a Man-eater
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My days are numbered, but I like to think I have control over that number. I eat right, exercise regularly, and stay clear of fast-moving vehicles. But there are certain things I can't resist. Certain life-threatening experiences that are just too enticing to avoid.

For me, diving with sharks was one of those opportunities. Call it too much Cousteau as a kid, but the idea of swimming with man-eaters sounded like the end-all (figuratively) of underwater recreation. Acting on this whim, I recently became shark bait for a day, and despite my darkest fears I'm still here to tell the story.

Shark diving is not as uncommon or uncommonly dangerous as it may sound. Dive shops around the world now offer an assortment of trips to commingle with of one of nature's most perfect predators.

I chose the Caribbean as the destination for my dinner date—and found a cushy retreat with all the tropical amenities. If I'm going to die, I reasoned, I may as well die tan and relaxed. Thus, I embarked for Grand Bahama Island, in the Bahamas, and settled into a room next door to the Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO), a world-renowned dive center. UNEXSO offers all sorts of great dives, from interaction with dolphins to wreck dives on the Grand Bahama Ledge, but I was there to dive with the sharks and they were more than happy to oblige. Additional shark bait on the boat could only be a bonus. The dive, called Shark Junction, has become one of the Caribbean's most talked-about adventures. The company currently runs three trips to the site each week and advance reservations are typically required (yes, people fly from around the world to do this).

My experience began with a classroom orientation—a detailed dive-master briefing, video footage from previous shark dives, and required waiver that absolves the company should you lose life or limb. This is the last chance for fainthearted or otherwise intelligent divers to decline the outing and opt for petting dolphins. We lost two divers before we even got to the boat.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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