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September 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 30, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Cat Island, Chuuk Lagoon. . .

oceanic white-tips, and a nasty tub

from the September, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Epic Diving, Cat Island, Bahamas. If you're looking to dive with oceanic white-tip sharks, here's the place, says Brent Barnes (Edmond, OK), who went there in April. "We spent our week with Epic Diving, run by a couple who specialize in developing and providing sites for shark encounters. What an incredible trip!" Seven days run about $3,000 for the room and diving, and sell out fast. "Greenwood Resort is a pleasant, rustic accommodation, but the service is very personalized. Most rooms are not air-conditioned, but eight are, with wall unit A/Cs for an extra $120 for the week. There is a bar/restaurant with inside and outside seating. Dinners were multiple course, including soups, salads and seafood entrees that were delicious . . . Epic Diving usually takes 10 divers max, but there were only four during our week. Owners Vincent and Debra were first told by local fishermen of the reliability of the oceanic white-tips between April and June each year, and that sharks routinely take their catches. As oceanic white-tips are very tough for divers to have reliable encounters with, because they're deep-water denizens, they began to explore this site about five years ago. The first couple of years, they would often have to chum for two to six hours before the sharks would show, and some days they would not. However, this year, either the sharks have been present before the boat arrives or they show within minutes every day. The sharks are not dependable in the early morning, so we were picked up at 9:30 a.m. and driven 20 minutes to the tiny bay where Epic's boat was kept. The main truck intended to transport us was broken after the first day, so the four of us were packed tightly in rugged small trucks without working air-conditioning.

"We were tendered from shore to the boat in a small motorboat with an inside protected cabin, a head and storage space. If 10 divers were on board, things would be tight. We were briefed on proper activities with the sharks and first snorkeled with them. A bait cage is dropped with a buoy and allowed to float in the current. Divers are instructed to stay within visibility range of the cage and drift with it. The boat loosely follows, and after an hour, it begins to pick divers up as they choose to end their dive. There was rarely a need to go below 50 feet because these sharks stay toward the surface; most of the action was between 10 and 30 feet. Once the sharks came (they were usually there before the boat even arrived), they would stay all day. The fewest oceanic whitetips we saw were three, and most days we had seven, but one day, nine. On the final day, we had encounters with seven white-tips and four silky sharks. One day, we had a brief sighting of a marlin, on another, an encounter with four dolphins. ...

"The fewest white-tips we saw were three, and most days, we had seven. One day, we had nine."

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