I have always said the Captain gets most of his love of boats from his Scandinavian ancestors. So, what a surprise it was to discover that one of the first settlers of this island was a man with the same last name and origin as his very own family. Which didn't excite him as much as it did me because he said a lot of people could have that name. But I tend to believe everything, so I'm going to look into it.
At any rate, this ancestor, who went to sea at the age of sixteen and traveled the world, said the "wickedest shark he ever saw" was right here off the coast of this island. So, when I noticed a place on the map marked Shark Reef, I wanted to go see it. It's out on the southwest tip of the island, facing the "big water" at one of the most volatile confluences of current, ocean swell, and winds. Which is probably why it is such an abundant feeding ground for all manner of sea creatures.
Not that I expected to see a shark from some rugged point of land, but you never know. So, I took the camera and we threaded our way through a lovely forest path for about fifteen minutes just to get there. What an amazing scene!
A great rocky reef spread out like a thin crescent moon along the shore, covered by sea lions basking and barking, and even arguing over the best spots. Some were fishing in the fast-moving currents, and seagulls kept swooping down to catch a quick bite whenever one came up with a fish. In less than a minute, we even saw a family of dolphins swim by.
I snatched up the camera, and we began an immediate (rather emphatic) "discussion" about whether you could, or couldn't, capture anything decent while shooting into the light. I admit I'm still new enough at this filming stuff that I get somewhat beside myself at the prospect of an exciting subject. So, we both decided to have a turn (to try things our own way), and Puh-leeze do not take any shot of me other than the back of my hat.
Which was why it was a bit embarrassing to round the corner afterward, and find several groups of people (that had been only steps away) spread out along the rocks being absolutely QUIET. So as not to disturb such a pristine wildlife observation area. All of a sudden, I felt like I had talked out loud in a movie while trying to find my seat.
Still, it was a fantastic afternoon, even though we never glimpsed so much as one shark fin cutting through the water below. And considering the fact the place was also referred to as Shark Reef Sanctuary, I thought I better check some facts before writing this post.
I found out that if I would have seen a shark in the water out there, I probably would have been written up in the local newspaper. Because there are no sharks out there, anymore. What hasn't been commercially fished to extinction for a popular recipe called "Shark Fin Soup" has been done away by enthusiasts who enjoy hunting large, predatory animals. And should any "strangers" happen through from other territories, they are rather immediately dispatched by local killer whale pods.
So, even though such a sanctuary has been set aside to try and make matters right for these creatures that once had their own place in the cycles of ocean life around here, only one species has managed to thrive. That is the bluntnose sixgill shark that lives between 300 and 3000 feet off the bottom, and rarely makes an appearance into the light. Much less near Shark Reef.
All of which left me feeling a bit sad. Along with a major determination to capture as much wildlife on video that I could, out here, in case the same thing happens to anyone else who lives in these amazing waters. Mostly because trying to start a "be nice to sharks campaign" would be a really hard sell.
Maybe even as hard as selling books.