I am an open-water swimmer. I swim 2-3 times per week, in the ocean or bay, with an amazing group called Dolphins & Rainbows Swim Group. (Don’t judge us by our name. I voted for Sharks & Rays.) If you are a swimmer and want to learn more about us, click here to join our group on Facebook, or click here or click here to read my prior blogs about the group.
I wanted to share this cool story, posted by my brother-in-law, Michael Samway. And please note my refrain from jokes about sharks and lawyers…
Thirty D&Rs could barely find a ripple on the sea surface at the start, it was that flat and beautiful. Below the surface, however, lots was stirring. We saw tarpon, barracuda, a spotted eagle ray, and…
**If you don’t like large sea creatures that begin with an “s” and end in a “k,” then skip the rest of the story. And I don’t mean a Sea Skunk!**
Jose Arevalo was swimming solo and saw a large grey shadow approach so he kicked his stroke into high-gear for a moment before deciding that the best course was to slow down, be calm, and display no fear! The clearly visible hammerhead shark turned away, back out to sea.
Either moments before or after, we’re not sure, the same muscular 8’-10’ hammerhead shark inquisitively approached Jeffrey Bast and Jafar Shabani, who were swimming next to one another. The shark sided-up to Jafar first and then turned directly toward Jeff. Jeff put his hands out and got ready to turn the shark’s tool-shaped head away. The shark banked at the last moment just inches away and Jeff put his hand on the shark’s sandpaper skin, just behind its dorsal fin, before the hammerhead swam off.
Jeff and Jafar arrived at the halfway point so full of excitement they could barely contain themselves. They eagerly told us all about their close encounter and heard Jose had seen the same shark. And since this is the D&R, you might not be surprised to learn that not one swimmer got out of the water, and instead we all swam the last mile hoping we’d get a glimpse of the curious creature.
Also worth noting is that Jeff is a highly experienced scuba diver who’s been on numerous shark dives in the Caribbean and off the coast of Central America. And – yes you can judge him – he took his oldest of three kids (who happens to be my niece!) on a research vessel for a week off the coast of Baja, Mexico so that they could dive with Great Whites. In cages, that is. So Jeff surely willed that shark encounter today, his first ever with a hammerhead. A…touching D&R memory!