Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anguilla // Swimming with Sharks

Growing up, I swam constantly. My parents had a pool in our backyard my entire life and Lake Michigan was only a 10 minute drive away from our house. I absolutely loved swimming and practically lived in the water for a good chunk of my life.

When I arrived in Anguilla, I surprised myself when I realized I had never snorkeled before. I tried remembering a time where I may have done this, but my mind went blank. I honestly don't think I've ever done it. Not even just messing around in the pool with goggles and fins. You'd think since I was around water so often as a kid, I would have tried it at least once, but I really can't recall a time!

Andrew said he'd teach me, so one day we headed down to the beach and I tried it out. Steven and Jimmy were there, too. I was definitely struggling at first. I kept choking on water and didn't trust myself to get my face low enough because I was afraid the water would get sucked down my tube from the waves. My goggles kept fogging or filling with water, too. It was frustrating. I felt like a little kid trying to ride a bike for the first time. WHY CAN'T I DO THIS??

Steven and Jimmy took turns holding my hands (literally) and walking me through it. After making sure my goggles were nice and tight, I focused on my breathing, trusted them when they told me there was no way water could get inside the tube, and stuck my face down in the water and opened my eyes...

It was sooooo beautiful under the surface. I couldn't believe it. It looked like a book or something you'd see on National Geographic.

After that, I was hooked.

Andrew and I swam all over the place. I couldn't stop pointing at fish. I never ever thought I'd get the chance to see such gorgeous creatures in their natural habitat. Yellows, blues, greens, reds, purples, spots, stripes... Everything, all at once.

We stayed in the water for a few hours after I got the hang of it. I couldn't wait for our next outing.

The next day, I was pleased to find out that Jr was taking us out in his boat for a day of snorkeling.

I love this photo of Andrew, haha!

Carol took some photos of everyone while we were checking out the fishies!

We all swam over to this cave. I was a bit scared at first, but I didn't want to be the only one not going in, so I hurried over and caught up with the group, and I'm so glad I did! The second I got in there, I immediately regretted not bringing an underwater camera on the trip. It was amazing. There were TONS of tiny fish right below our feet. Andrew kept swimming down in the middle of them and they'd scurry away in different directions. It pained me knowing I was missing out on so many great photo opportunities!

After a few hours, we were ready to go, so everyone started piling back into the boat. The minute I took my fins and goggles off, I heard Andrew yell from the water, "Tommy, what is that???"
Everyone who was still in the water put their heads back in, and I think it was Madh who said, "It's a shark!"

There was a slight panic but not too much. Tommy and Anne told us it was a nurse shark and that they tend to stay very close to the bottom. Nobody seemed in danger or the least bit concerned, so of course I had to jump back in the water to get a good look.

The shark looked something like this. It was probably over eight feet long.
Andrew and a few other guys kept swimming down closer and they all looked so small next to it. Every time the shark moved a little bit, I glanced back over my shoulder to make sure I knew exactly where the boat was... Just in case I needed to make a break for it.

I couldn't believe I was swimming right above a SHARK. It was an amazing experience, and I think it was the perfect ending to my first real snorkeling adventure.