Every summer about this time, the Discovery Channel decides it’s a good idea to broadcast Shark Week, a series of shows that all focus on the man-eating power of sharks. Most of the shows have titles like “Top Five Eaten Alive”, “Deadliest Sharks of the Universe” and “Blood Runs Red in the Ocean”. It’s lighthearted viewing fun for the whole family right in the middle of the summer season. Apparently, the programming staff at Discovery Channel is bitter, angry and hellbent on ruining any fun you might have been planning to have at the beach this summer.
P and Caroline love Shark Week. They watch all the shark shows and note the differences between a tiger shark versus a lemon shark, while I sit and wonder who these people are and how I ended up living in this house with them. A shark is a shark. They all have sharp teeth and will EAT YOU ALIVE if given the chance. I firmly believe this to be true, even though every year on one of these shows, some Professor of Sharkology will say that most of the time a shark isn’t interested in eating you, they’re just tasting you. Oh yeah? Tell that to the girl who used to have a left leg.
Something tells me she doesn’t find solace in the fact that the shark was just confirming she wasn’t a wounded seal.
Last night, Shark Week was on full force at our house and I couldn’t help myself, I started watching “Top Five Eaten Alive”. It was a harrowing tale of some poor girl swimming off the coast of Easter Island and having her entire leg bitten off. And I was the picture of sympathy as I sat eating my Sour Patch Kids while listening to her tale of life and death struggle. Then, I remembered that P and I have our own story about narrowly surviving (maybe not narrowly surviving, as much as kind of coming close to the possibility) a shark attack and had to share it with y’all.
Thank you Shark Week for providing blog material.
P and I went to a little island in the Bahamas called Exuma for our honeymoon. It’s a tiny, tiny little island known for its stellar bonefishing and pretty beaches. The water is as clear as glass and we rented some snorkeling equipment so we could explore all the different coral reefs that were practically right outside our hotel room. The first day we went snorkeling we swam out to where a private plane had wrecked years before and multitudes of rainbow-hued fish had since claimed the wreckage as home. We found huge conch shells, giant starfish and all kinds of incredible things.
It was fun but, every time we got to the edge of the wreckage, we could see where the ocean dropped off and became that deep, dark blue. This was in the days before I had seen “Finding Nemo” 1,842 times and knew what a terrible place the drop off really is, but, even so, I knew it was eerie and just thinking about it right now gives me a shiver up my spine. Eventually, a barracuda made his way to where we were swimming so, because we value our limbs, we decided to call it a day.
The next day, we decided to stick closer to home. There was a big bay area of water that had huge rock formations on either side creating a cove. We’d spent the morning lying in the sun and decided to put on our snorkeling equipment and swim out to a big coral reef we could see out in the distance. We started swimming and it was further than it had originally looked, so we stopped to tread water and discuss whether or not we were going to keep heading out.
About that time, a small boat that appeared out of nowhere pulled up next to us. It was an elderly man and he said, “You kids probably need to head back to the shore. There’s a 12 foot hammerhead shark that’s been swimming around this cove all morning.”
Umm yeah, you know those scenes in cartoons where the characters literally run on top of the water? That’s about what we looked like. We turned tail and swam like we have never swam in our lives. And when we finally got to the edge of the water, we collapsed on the beach, panting for air. Then, we looked out to wave our thanks to the man in the boat. But he was gone.
I’m telling you there is no way he could have gotten the boat out of that cove by the time we swam to the shore. And as we strained our eyes to see if we could see him in the distance, all we saw instead was a huge, shadowy figure about 12 feet long swimming right in front of the coral reef we had been heading towards.
I don’t know how many other times I have been protected from various dangers by guardian angels, but I have no doubt that on that day in August of ’97, P and I were guided by an angel wearing a fishing hat.
I’m just glad he was there to give the warning, even if it means I missed a shot at starring in my own Shark Week story of man versus beast.
Psalm 91: 9-11 “If you make the Most High your dwelling–even the Lord, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
And the shark.