Free Beer & Sex by Mike Dixon - HTML preview

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15 Feeding frenzy


People say that something is dangerous and you don't take them seriously.  You've done it so often you're blind to the dangers.

When I was in the diving industry we used to feed the sharks.  It was part of our service and very popular with customers who craved an adrenalin high and wanted some stunning photographs to show the folks back home.

The sharks liked it too.  They enjoyed a free meal and soon caught on.  When they heard the sound of our engines they would congregate around the feeding stations.  We'd arrive and find them waiting for us.  It was all very convenient and predictable ... or so it seemed.

The regular diners were reef sharks of the white-tipped variety with fine physiques and good table manners.  They didn't crash in for a quick bite.  The white tips took time to assess the situation and decide when it was safe to take the tempting morsels that we were handing to them.  It wasn't difficult to see why they had survived the Permian Extinction and gone on to see the demise of the dinosaurs.

Admittedly, they got a bit agitated on occasions.  That was when bronze whalers and tiger sharks appeared.  We got used to the whalers but the tigers continued to spook us ... so, in a sense, we got it half right.

Reef sharks are safe but whalers and tigers should be treated with caution.  We should have worried about the whalers and we should have worried about the hammerheads.  One day a mob of the weird-looking sharks appeared and went on the rampage.

Bags of fish were snatched from our hands and a leisurely dinner party degenerated into a feeding frenzy.  Divers panicked and fled for the surface (dangerous).  Others froze (wise).  One guy received cuts to his hand.  Blood streamed from the wound and that was scary.

We left the scene and got back to our boat, relieved that no one was seriously hurt.  After that, shark feeding was dropped from our list of activities.  Other operators continued to offer the service and it still goes on despite the occasional mishap.

My advice is to avoid shark feeding unless you are well out of reach of the sharks.  Shark viewing is quite different.  Sharks are usually around and will be keeping an eye on you.  There's no need to ignore them.