I hear Mickey screaming at me through his scuba regulator, and the thirty feet of seawater separating us.
We are swimming along the edge of a seamount, about sixty feet deep in the Caribbean Sea half way between the island of Roatan and the mainland of Honduras. There is a series of mountains in this area along the seafloor raising from depth around a thousand feet to within 50 feet of the ocean’s surface and providing structure for coral, sponges and which attracts a plethora of fish life, not to mention offering amazing places to go diving.
The day dawned with the sea dead calm and flat. Having never dove the “Seamounts” in my twelve years on the island, and having recently installed a big new shiny eco-friendly motor on our boat Kiko, Mickey, Kal, Denise and myself put our lives and a bunch of dive gear in the hands of our trusted boat captain Jose, and shot across the glassy sea. In 45 minutes we arrive at GPS coordinates and slip into the sea and a veritable mountain-top garden.
I usually spear the invasive species Lionfish during the dives, while my companions tend to be photographers. After spearing them I put them in a plastic tube contraption called a zoo-keeper, this leaves a trail of blood wherever you go, which can lead to some heart stopping encounters with other predatory species.
The first thought I have when I hear Mickey screaming is; “Damn! Not one of those big green Moray Eels!” I spin around searching for whatever it may be, and spot a SHARK! It’s swimming down the slope of the seamount directly for me. No doubt smelling the blood in the water and expecting a personal feeding frenzy, its beady eyes laser-focused on me, it picked up speed and zoomed in! Putting my hand on its forehead and spinning out of the way like a matador, I thwarted his initial attack!
Not to be deterred easily this apex predator spins its slightly less than massive 36-inch-long body and comes in on another run, and I push him away and give him a little pet, trying not to hurt his feelings. The little guy hung out, and gave everyone the once-over for about ten minutes. Possibly hand fed by other divers, this small nurse shark has lost his natural timidity, and associates divers with food. All fun and cute now, but should this shark be fortunate enough to reach a mature maximum length of 10 feet, this experience could be dramatically different!
Please don’t feed the bears!
All photos courtesy of Mickey Charteris - Caribbean Reef Life