To borrow a line from Zerotio…So there I was…
If you listen to the show, you probably already know that I am a shark enthusiast, but as interested in them as I am, I have never had an encounter with one in the wild. While this wasn’t an actual “in the water personally” encounter, it was still very cool.
So where was I..?
Oh yeah, so there I was, finishing up a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich in the room of our hotel on the 9th floor. I was on my way back out onto the balcony to grab the rest of the family and head back down to enjoy the beach for the rest of the afternoon. I was in mid-sentence with my mother when movement caught my eye about a quarter of a mile down the beach and about 15-20 yards off shore. I grabbed her by the arm and said “That’s a shark!”. She looked in the direction of where I was pointing and said “I hope not.” We grabbed the binoculars and went out on the balcony where my brother and children were still looking at the alligator the Beach Patrol was getting ready to trap (we had been helping them track it from shore for most of the morning). The alligator surfaced and made a sudden move back out towards the second sand bar. When the alligator moved the shark turned towards it’s direction and picked up speed. I looked at my brother and said “It’s going to eat the alligator.”, but I was wrong. As the shark swam closer and we were able to get a better look at it, I realized it was a Great Hammerhead. The Hammerhead was approximately 10 feet in length from what we can tell. As the shark closed on the alligator, safely away from swimmers as it was swimming comfortably between the two sandbars approximately 40-50 yards off shore, something unexpected happened. A massive stingray, spotting the shark, made a break for the shallow water closer to shore, and amongst bathers. Spotting, or more than likely sensing, the movement of it’s favorite meal, the Hammerhead immediately turned towards the ray and closed in on it with astounding speed. We caught some of the rest in photos, the originals are too large to upload, but I snipped out the important parts so I could share them.
In the photo above, just to the right of the swimmer in the blue tube, the Hammerhead and stingray as locked in a circular dance of death as the shark moves to get a clear line of attack on the ray, attempting to lock it’s teeth in place without leaving itself open to the ray’s tail. The shark is not able to hold on, and the wounded ray breaks free and moves around the women in the blue tube, who is still unaware of either creature despite the multitude of shouts from shore of “SHARK!”.
The ray turns towards shore yet again, and while you can’t see the ray in the photo above, hopefully you see the shark had picked a line of pursuit and it was beginning to close on the ray, directly between the bather in the blue tube and the lady in the brown hat. As you can see from the photo, all the bathers in the photo are looking towards shore, wondering what everyone is screaming about.
The attack! The photo above shows the shark run into the bather in the brown hat as it successfully chases down the wounded ray. Needless to say, the swimmers practically ran on top of the water to get into shore, but the shark finished off the ray and simply swam off. To give you a size reference, the lady in the photo is a pretty big lady, and is a almost six feet tall.
It just goes to show that most sharks would rather eat just about anything else in the sea than chew on us. For this amateur shark enthusiast, it was amazing to see a Great Hammerhead, unrestrained and getting to witness a predation without any real interference from man. Hope you enjoyed the story, I will be writing about Hearthstone next time, but I though some might enjoy this sneak peek into my exciting vacation.