The last time we swam with sharks we were in Belize while diving our way through Central America in 2003. We had gone down take our dive masters course in Honduras for the winter. We were already accomplished rescue divers with nearly 100 dives under our belts in the deep cold waters of Ontario’s Georgian Bay and the St. Lawrence River. We had just finished up diving the beautiful Palancar Reef of Cozumel and now were making our way through Central America. It’s been a long time since we’ve been back in the water and there is no better place to get your feet wet than in the Galapagos.
You see, it was in Central America that I came down with a thyroid disorder. Upon our return home, I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroid and Graves Disease. It had progressed so far that I had to be put on the medication propranolol to slow down my rapid heart rate. I had lost a drastic amount of weight due to my metabolism working in hyperdrive and because my hormones were so messed up, I was extremely emotional. This cut my diving career short due to the fact that I suffered more than a few panic dives and felt high stress when entering the water. Had I known I was sick, I would have gone home and fixed myself up, however, I just thought I was being an emotional woman and pushed through each dive forcing myself to get better. Instead I developed a phobia of the water and every time I have tried to go back in I have a panic attack.
We aren’t diving again yet, but we did snorkel in some of the most exotic waters on earth here in the Galapagos. It was the perfect conditions for overcoming fear as we had to jump off the boat into deep waters of the Eastern Pacific. The sharks came during snorkel number two. We jumped into the cool waters and drifted through two giant cliffs of Sleeping Lion Rock in a swift current. We knew that we had a good chance of spotting sharks today. The last time our guide Sambo was out, they saw at least 30!
Once we drifted through the channel, we came out to calm waters on the other end and were told to swim close to the shore for shallower waters and a clearer view of the coral and wildife rather than the deep abyss below.
Several sharks were circling below us coming in for a closer look. Our guides told us that they don’t normally come so close. Usually there are many sharks, but they tend to stay deep below and farther away from snorkelers. For some reason, these guys seemed to want to take a closer peek at all of us.
Dave did an amazing job diving down to get better photos and our guide grabbed Dave’s camera to get some even closer shots of the sharks. It was great having the professionals along who know the sharks well to be able to capture some extra footage for us. Our camera didn’t take the best underwater photographs, but the video on the Olympus Tough took incredible footage. Check out our latest footage of Swimming with Sharks in the Galapagos.
By the way I conquered my fear and I’m not afraid to swim in deep water anymore. I enjoyed every minute of snorkelling in the Galapagos and I didn’t have one panic attack. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to put on the old regulator again one day.
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Read more Galapagos at Wanna Know What It’s like on an Active Galapagos Tour? or Marine Iguanas Feeding Underwater