A Whale of a Time

I was watching TV the other day and the show was talking about the aquarium in Atlanta
Georgia. It naturally caught my attention being a mermaid and all, ha ha! The Atlanta
aquarium is the biggest in the world stretching 13 acres, holding 8 million gallons of
water! This program I was watching was focusing on the Whale Sharks they have in the
tank. People get on a waiting list just to be able to dive and swim with the sharks. I can
completely understand people’s fascination with whale sharks, I have met one first hand,
and yes they are amazing creatures!
Having fished the Gulf of Mexico for years I have had an occasional run in with Whale
Sharks, but they usually keep their distance or just cruise by the boat once for a curious
hello! I consider myself extremely lucky to have seen these fish in their natural
environment. Early one cool October day our fishing buddies and I found ourselves in an
up close encounter of the fishy kind!
We had loaded the boat up with tackle and friends and went off for a day trip of offshore
fishing. It was a shorter trip than the previous ones we had taken that year. We were
targeting Cobia and Amberjack. We hadn’t been at the rig very long when we saw bait
breaking the surface off in the distance. The jigging was slow so the crew decided to go
check out what the white water commotion was all about. Well the commotion was
coming from a twenty plus foot long Whale Shark and all of its fishy friends that were
sharing its dinner. Whale sharks are filter feeders and have no teeth. They feed on krill
and plankton along side other baitfish eating the krill with them.
We drifted up to the commotion and to our surprise the shark was not bothered by us. In
fact he liked being by the boat. I reached down and gently touched him with excitement.
He just kept swimming around us. My husband and one of our friends were the first to
jump in with him. Even after they visited him in the water, Sharky still stayed near. I
decided this was an amazing opportunity and I had to do it!
The water was cold and I only had on a snorkel and mask, no flippers. I am a very
confident swimmer and have always been at ease in the water. Not having flippers was
not an issue for me. I jumped in and swam over to our shark friend. His size was
intimidating and he swam slow and I easily kept up. I grabbed ahold of his dorsal fin and
just let him drag me. It was a rush…… He began to rise to the surface and I suddenly
found myself sitting on him like I was riding a horse! I was riding a polka spotted 20 foot
shark, WOW!!!!!!!! It was a true mermaid moment and I couldn’t stop smiling. I sat up on
him and waved at our crew on the boat! The ride was short lived and he descended
deeper and I made my way back to the boat to get out of the cold water.
Swimming with a Whale Shark was an experience I will forever remember vividly and
with excitement every time I think of it! Whale sharks are truly gentle giants of the sea.
Having met one first hand and had the opportunity to swim beside one is a highlight of
my many outdoor experiences! Being one with Mother Nature and her children make for
a lifetime of memories and amazing experiences! I love the ocean just as much as the
fields and the forests!

Mar 14, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: 2


2 comments on “A Whale of a Time

  1. Tom Payton

    That is just freekin awesome!

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