Monday, May 25, 2009

The Bistro

There's an island just south of Pacific Harbour, where we stayed in Fiji, called Beqa (pronounced Ben-ka) and the straight of water between it and the mainland is just referred to locally as 'the passage.' It's the middle of the pacific ocean so you shouldn't be too surprised when I say there are plenty of sharks around the place. What might sound a little more surprising is that you can go diving in those waters. What might begin to multiply the hopefully rising levels of disbelief is that yesterday I did, in fact, dive in those waters. And we, the dive boat, took two 250 litre drums full of fish heads and guts down with us. And then opened them. And then waited... This is 'The Bistro.' The craziest dive I have ever done.

So what happens? Well a bait ball started to form. A towering swirl of Giant Trevally, Groupers and Great Emperor fish. And they're all pretty big. And after a couple of seconds you're so hypnotised by this that you hardly even notice the 6 foot bull shark that swims across the background. And by the time you do there's a shadow that passes momentarily above your head and it's another one on his way to dinner. And before you have time to freak out you're kneeling 25 meters below the surface 4 feet from 8 wild sharks. Eating.

Brandon, the guy who swam into the middle of them pulling space hopper sized chunks of fish heads is a real defender of sharks. He speaks impressively about all the species, their feeding habits, their behaviour and their possible extinction. He's involved with the local government to try to stop the insane amount of 'finning' that goes on (a shark is pulled from the water by a fisherman, stripped of it's dorsal, tail and both pectoral fins and thrown back into the water to drown or starve at the bottom). He's been doing this for almost ten years now and never had a problem with them but as I watched him literally smack a wild shark on the nose because it was swimming right at his head I couldn't help but think 'You crazy bastard...'

Am I doing too many crazy things lately? It's starting to feel like it.

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