Here we are after work last night, Jen Kneale and Wendy Stevens, off Bradda Head, in a 10’6 hot pink rowing boat. It is a beautiful evening, mirror calm, warm and sea is full of life, gannets, jellyfish, plankton. It has all the right ingredients for basking sharks. We get a little excited when I spot something, it is moving too fast over the water for a bird…. could it be? Oh my word it is!!! It’s a SHARK.
We’d been sat at a good distance away from the shark, just drifting, quietly wishing it would come closer for a photo, but at the same time quite happy that the giant is over there. Then we realise we may have drifted in to “the menu” and we are hoping our little pink boat won’t get mistaken for a prawn! Careful what you wish for…. eventually the inquisitive creature did want to find out if we were a prawn.
Mild panic sets in when I realise that I am never going to be able to row us away from the shark at any speed. The only option is to stow the oars in the boat and sit tight. I look at the seagulls around the shark, they aren’t worried by them, I shouldn’t be either.
But oh my word, this one is big! And swimming straight for us. We are treated to an amazing sight, its head must be the same size as our boat almost, its enormous mouth is wide open. We are 10’6, the shark is easily 3 times us… 30+ feet.
It is hard to describe the feeling of complete awe at these majestic creatures, the world’s gentle giants, so close you could have touched it (if you were brave enough – we weren’t!). It is a totally humbling experience, you’re in a tiny boat with a massive shark, there is nothing you can do other than trust the shark. I have to trust the shark, it swims under us, inches away giving us a rare display of its whole body through the clear water. Life is blessed.