Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Swimming with sharks

See, you thought that was another punning title, didn't you? But no, I mean it literally - today I'm writing about going to Moorea and doing exactly that. It was the Lagoon Excursion tour with Albert Transport that I went on and the only disappointment was that the "tubas provided aboard the catamaran" promised on the webpage turned out to be a mistranslation for snorkels. They delivered on everything else, especially the rays and the sharks, as you see. I even had a couple of these black-tipped reef sharks ("They don't bite people" guide Siki assured us - but how far can you trust a dreadlocked dude in a wetsuit?) brush up against me as they swirled through the water, waiting for their feeding frenzy once we were all back on the boat.
I had been a bit dismayed that the boat was full and there were 50 punters in all - but once we got into the water, I decided that there was safety in numbers. There were plenty of huge sting rays too ("Don't touch their tails," Siki instructed us unnecessarily) and they were all over us, eager for titbits (that would be "tidbits" for you US readers). Once I got over the tail thing - who can see a sting ray now and not think of Steve Irwin? - it was kind of nice, how smooth, soft and rubbery they felt. And even when I got nipped when I tried feeding one, it was more about pressure than pointiness.
There was lots of excited shrieking, and everybody enjoyed themselves getting up close with the rays. It was a bit of a melee, with so many people and fish milling about in the water, so you wouldn't call it a meaningful communion with nature, but it was fun. It was all in a day's work for Siki, though, who took it all pretty much for granted. His high point came at lunchtime on a little motu, when he demonstrated how to make poisson cru, and was able to choose himself an assistant.

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