How does it feel to see a shark?

    I believe that many of my generation were raised watching “Jaws” series! I have to admit: this movie definitely had wrongly impacted our minds with pictures of sharks enjoying the taste of human flesh and attacking to avenge their family members! Actually, this idea has been haunting me during my teenage years that every time I will swim in the sea, I will be attacked by a shark!

Yet, it was a local TV program about the wonderful life under the sea that gave me the courage to think about learning to dive, to explore this secret world. A reason why, 13 years ago, I decided to learn to dive in the Red Sea.

Diving the Red Sea and exploring the abyss hidden under the serene surface of turquoise water is such a self-fulfilling experience. The treasures of coral reefs, marine life, and different species of fishes and maritime creatures offer any avid diver the unique opportunity to meditate underwater. Every time I go down into the blue, I get a sense of incomparable freedom and inner peace, to the extent that I always think “how would it feel like to have an IPod with earphones while experiencing a different sense of lack of gravity?”.

It was November 2015, where I went to a Safari diving with Dive Hurghada for one week in the south of Red Sea, sites called Daedalus, Elphinstone, and Brothers. These sites are most famous for different types of sharks (grey shark, tiger shark, hammerheads). They are also characterized by a significant level of difficulty.

During the brief given by the guide, I was feeling very anxious. The idea of going on a tough dive, with the option of meeting a shark face to face was such an intimidating thought that I seriously considered chickening out and leaving the rest of the group go without me. Yet, it was my sense of adventure and little boldness that pushed me to jump and explore.

On my first dive, I had the reef at my right shoulder and the blue at my left-hand side. Swimming calmly on a depth of 25 meters, watching Nudibranches and clownfishes and anemones, I heard the checker sound of our guide. I looked where he was pointing in the blue, and I saw an Oceanic white tip. And the first idea that came up to my mind was “Is this the SHARK? The king of the ocean? The great terrorist under the sea?”… “Well”, I thought sarcastically, “IT’S JUST A FISH”! and I kept on moving. Seriously!! Right then and there, in the safety of the reef, and the grouping of my fellow divers, seeing a shark at 10 meters distance in the blue, it just looks like any other fish in the sea… just a little bigger.

In my second dive, we spent 55 minutes watching corals and small fishes and by the end of the dive, at 5 meters before ascending to the boat, I was at 3 meters distance away from an oceanic white tip roaming around us, checking the group and once he sensed that the distance became dangerously closer to us, he sprinted away accompanied by his humble servants (I mean Pilot fishes).

At that moment, I felt like my heart stopped beating for a femtosecond and all my blood stopped circulating in my veins. I sort of believed that I also stopped breathing for a while in order not to create any bubbles that would attract this enormous creature towards me. I have to admit that this was one of the very few horrific moments in my life, yet that was not the only description of how I felt. It was a mix of fear, horror, thrill, excitement and amazement. I ascended onboard speechless for about 5 minutes, reflecting on what I just did. I was almost hugging a shark, and “thank GOD”, nothing happened. He did not bite me or chase me or hurt me in any way. On the contrary, he was curious to see the group and once he felt trapped, he decided to apply a speedy escape technique.

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Oceanic white tip, November 2015

That night, I stayed sleepless thinking: how many fearful ideas did I have implanted in my mind throughout my life that are hindering me from exploring? How many times was I intimidated by someone or something to the extent that I avoided a confrontation or refused a responsibility or missed out on an opportunity? How many times did I take other peoples’ opinions as an “ipso facto” and dictated my life accordingly!

That moment, I realized that no matter what people say or do or tell you, it’s nothing unless you try. Every person who tries to dissuade you from doing something, or negatively impacts you by trying to cage you in boundaries created by his model of life is not real; he is an illusion. That voice in your head which belittles any desire or hope in your heart is not real; it’s an illusion. We are creatures of love and openness and trial and experiment. Because this is the essence of life!

Next day, our first dive in the early morning was in Daedalus. That morning, I was feeling differently. I was actually looking forward to meeting another shark and seeing this respectful creature again; and I think the heaven’s were hearing my prayer and they answered immediately! A school of Hammerheads were peacefully circulating in the blue at 40 meters depth! The scenery was so beautiful to the extent that I felt my heart soaring of joy! Swimming together, slightly touching each other, moving in circles and exchanging places from one side to the other in suave progression, it seemed and looked like one of those commercials that focus on the slow-motion movement of liquid colors and water. It was just so amazing and “peaceful”.

Everything in our lives has a good side and a challenging side. When we focus on the good, the challenge disappears. When we tune our brain on embracing the beauty of life and living the moment fully, we definitely feel ALIVE!

So, how does it feel to encounter a shark? It feels that you really exist in this world!

Dalia Saleh - Clients Relations Manager