You can’t out swim a fish but you can chase a shark: Abaco Adventures

When you see someone running down the beach at breakneck speed it is usually reasonable to assume they are either enjoying the quiet intensity of a morning jog, darting Baywatch style to rescue someone in need, or playing a game of catch. When it comes to me, I’m probably not doing any of those things.

Case in Point: Elbow Cay, Abaco, The Bahamas, June 2014

Picture me: GoPro in hand, under the high noon sun on the enticing Hope Town Harbour Lodge Beach, running in ankle deep water along the shoreline. What am I am doing?

Chasing a shark, of course. You must have heard about storm chasers. Well in the Bahamas, if you’re lucky enough to encounter a shark moseying about his way along the shoreline of your favourite beach you can go shark chasing with your feet planted firmly on the ground.

With a little luck (mine fell short), a little crazy (I’m good on that front), and some skill, you will capture original underwater footage (which I did not) of a cruising shark. I miscalculated my distance to the shark, the water visibility and the reach of the GoPro lens and ended up empty.

But I did accomplish something. I wrangled one more opportunity to conquer my fear, which is something travel is great for: Pushing you beyond your preconceived boundaries and revealing new dimensions of your own being. All of that from one shark encounter.

In truth, it wasn’t just about the shark chase. I set out with my travelling partners to go snorkeling on the shoals just in front of Hope Town Harbour Lodge. A reef runs parallel to the beach. We set out with our snorkeling gear from Froggie’s Dive Shop.

I should have known better than to preface our excursion with a prophetic speech:

“Just remember, you cannot out swim a fish. If you see a shark or a barracuda it makes no sense to haul ass to shore, because you cannot out swim it. So proceed with care while keeping your eye on the fish.”

I had learned this insightful truth only a few days prior from an experienced diver and friend. Excited about the opportunity to share, I forgot that the universe also has a sense of humor.

Before we even had an opportunity to defog our masks, two friendly tourists strolled up to us, as we stood waste deep in the water, and cautioned:

“We just saw a shark on the reef a little down shore”.

In the direction we planned to go no less.

As the fearless leader, I knew, keep calm and find out what type of shark. Rule of thumb: Don’t fuck around with bull sharks and tigers. Be less afraid with the rest.

The town criers were of no help. But it didn’t matter, because less than 5-minutes had passed, before their second warning came:

“Oh, there he is, right there [behind your ass. Literally, swimming right behind your ass].”

I won’t tell you how well we put my friend’s advice into practice, but in no time we were on dry land and I was chasing the shark down shore.

We did return to the water on my insistence. But only after I first saw a group of young boys, suited up in reflector vests, strung together with safety rope, heading out first. We also cautioned them about the shark, to which they replied, “No big deal”.

And with that, we had a “no big deal” snorkel on the reef void of any further big fish encounters.

Learn more about the beachfront resort, Hope Town Harbour Lodge, located on this beautiful coastline.

Tagged , , , , , , ,