Shark School Status Report

IMG_0218Day two of shark school took the group down south on Popou to Yap Cavens and the southern walls.

Yesterday we prepped the Caverns site with a bait box which produced a big group of mature Grey Reefs occupying the site.

The Caverns dive is typically a sharky experience with white tips resting in the amphitheater and grey reefs patrolling the reef wall, however today was an amplified shark encounter dive thanks to the bait.

We rolled in and hung off the amphitheater wall and watched about 15 reef sharks demonstrate several types of behaviors.

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There’s a cleaning station where Grey Reefs perform a mouth-open tail stand and get picked by cleaner wrasse as well as a sand bottom deep cleaning station out of nitrox depth farther down the reef slope.

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After watching the sharks out in the blue we kicked out and went deep where we were immediately investigated by members of the shark group. Just as we learned in the previous night’s lecture the sharks swam a  predictable and consistent pattern around and through our small dive group.

Things started to add up from the classroom to the water we experienced the shark behavior we learned on today’s first dive.

IMG_0173The second dive was at Cabbage Patch, just north of the Caverns, where we were using Colin’s bottle trick hoping to call in pelagic species from the deep.

In previous attempts at this we have been successful at stirring up Grey Reef sharks from the blue and twice had an agitated 10-12 foot Silvertip streak the dive group.

Depth plays a role here, so we wasted no time and went straight to max operating depth and got the bottle cracking.

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Today was rich with the acoustic response from pelagic life. Immediately a half dozen grey reef sharks showed up and circled our group, followed by a couple of proper barracuda, then 8 dogtooth tuna and finally an 8-9 foot Silky shark joined the party.

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The Silky was originally identified as a Galapagos shark by Dr. Eric, which would be a strange species for Yap… and it’s still undecided.

IMG_0291We stayed at depth and kicked out into the blue hoping to interact with another large pelagic species all the while turning our computers into deco timers.

Again the sharks swam a consistent investigation pattern around our dive group coming in close to several of us.

Just as we learned in class, the sharks close more distance from behind than when a diver is facing it, several of us were able to witness this.

We interacted with three species of shark on this dive and were able to experience what we learned in the lecture portions of the school out on the reef.

So far the shark learning and interactions have been positive and the diving advanced.

Today produced plenty of sharks with up close encounters using two techniques to bring them right up to our group.

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