Shark Wrangling

(South Fakarava, Tuamotus, French Polynesia)

Disclaimer: No sharks were harmed in the development of this post. A couple of parrotfish did give their lives, though we can think of this more as an expedited version of Simba’s father’s Circle of Life.

What began innocently enough as cleaning coconuts, ended with three friends trapped on Oceanna scared to depart for their own homes. I’m talking about sharks of course. This morning Gregory set to busting open the coconuts we had collected and before long he had quite the audience attending his every move. A dazzling variety of swimming species had congregated to collect the tasty cast offs from the coconut dismembering. Parrotfish, wrasse, long-nosed emperor, triggerfish, and the stalking forms of black and whitetip reef sharks.

Gregory, easily entertained in general, can be captivated for hours with anything to do with fish. Therefore, his itinerary for the day was set. Other people’s itinerary was about to change. Megan and Andy on Wairua were planning to depart for Tahiti today, though when the water glassed over as the wind completely disappeared, it became all to evident that no boat was sailing anywhere today.

So while Gregory progressed from feeding his fishy friends coconuts, to planning the proper timing to launch himself off the bimini to body-tackle a shark, everyone settled in to a calm, beautiful day in this brilliant blue world of ours. Megan and Andy swam over through the pool-like water, while a new friend Hana paddled over through the cloud of sharks.

It was once everyone was on board that the real shark wrangling action began. With newly speared reef fish as bait, Gregory threw a hooked line out to see whose interest he could peak. Turns out the answer to that question is about 20 sharks. It was absolutely incredible – and slightly unnerving – the amount of circling sharks that quickly amassed off the back of Oceanna’s steps. And with crystal-clear, glassy water our view from Oceanna’s deck was better than looking into the aquarium of your local dentist.

For what had to have been two hours we watched the intellectual battle of G Fresh vs Reef Shark. With each competitor controlling one end of the line the match was fierce. To tug, to bite, to wait, to loop back; the volley was endless. Gregory did manage to hook a few toothy participants which he would pull the short distance up onto the lowest step. He would unhook them, thank them for playing, and send them back on their merry way. In one case he did tie a leash to a shark’s tail he managed to outsmart, though the shark had the last laugh as back in the water it simply sat there docile, patiently waiting for the moment when its human friend would set him free.

We land-lubbers may have been entertained, but the reef sharks definitely came out on top. The five fish Greg shot and fed to them had to have been an easy and tasty feast.

Finally, one might ask where the photo documentation is of such a well-matched and captivating rivalry. My answer to that is all too clear below. I was obviously otherwise engaged in watching the duel to think of grabbing the camera. My solution to those would have liked to see the action? Come for a visit and see it first hand!


Rhombus on their way out this morning. Anyone recognize the YouTube famous whale they have painted on the hull??


Can’t get over those blues. This was such an incredibly still and beautiful day.


Gregory and coconut cleaning counterparts.


Me paddling home from a visit to Wairua. The picture doesn’t really do the amount of fish and unbelievable clarity justice.


It’s probably around this time that Gregory is standing on the bimini with me waiting for “the big shark” to circle in close enough. Luckily for the both of them he stayed wide.


Horizon? What horizon?

One comment

  1. Absolutely stunning pictures!
    Thanks for sharing!

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