Saturday, June 30, 2012

Superb snorkeling - Sharks

June 30, 2012
Anchorage position: 16°13.8546 S 142°27.4837 W

Snorkeling in the Tuamotus is superb. A balanced pristine marine environment unfettered by over-fishing and pollution is evident by an abundance of apex predators such as sharks. Getting in the water takes a bit of psyching up, and once in, a quick 360 degree sweep without seeing a huge shark helps take the edge off. The sharks are curious and one or two are pretty much always visible on the periphery. The bigger ones definitely get your attention as they swim right up for a closer look. An abundance of reef fish, a large variety of fancifully shaped corals, brightly colored giant clams, and wild black lipped oysters make the circling sharks well worth it.

After lunch we found a new anchorage in the southeast corner of the atoll. The prevailing wind and waves pound on the reef and provide a constant supply of crystal clear water making for the best snorkeling yet with visibility of at least one hundred feet. However the anchorage was tenuous with many coral heads to quickly snag the anchor chain if the wind were to shift. So after our second snorkel expedition of the day we shifted a bit back up the reef and anchored off the most southerly motu in 5 meters sand and isolated coral heads at 16°13.8546 S 142°27.4837 W between a sand bar and projecting shallow reef within the lagoon. It was another blissfully peaceful night far from civilization. It's been several days since we've heard or seen any indication that anyone else even exists on the planet. No planes, no boats, no distant lights, not even a peep on our VHF radio that we leave on 24 hours a day.

Kathy baked a loaf of rye bread and a loaf of banana bread and I worked on making a batch of fish jerky. The fish jerky recipe is in the development stages, since we don't have a receive aboard I'm making up my own. So far I've sliced 1 pound our Yellow fin Tuna into 1/4 inch strips and marinated the fish for about 1 hour in a combination of (3T pickling salt, 3T sugar, 3T soy sauce, 1/2t fresh ground pepper) then placed the slices on the solar drier.

SHARK ALERT! In the middle of eating our breakfast, Kathy just looked over the side of the boat and counted nine sharks. We took a few photos then tried an experiment where we splashed the water to see if the sharks would come closer. In short order we had fourteen sharks right on the stern of out boat circling in the beautiful clear waters! Ready for a swim? We hope the sharks have already had their breakfast.

Ok, so after our breakfast we put on our polarized glasses, stood on top of the pilot house endeavoring to accurately count the number of sharks circling the boat. We sort of got in to a shark induced fervor and our conversation went something like this: Kathy-"I'm going to do a systematic sweep from over here, one, two, three ...sixteen, no I got seventeen, eighteen, nineteen", Dave-"Wow a legit 19 and how about that one coming from over there?" Kathy excitedly-"Twenty!". Dave-"Simply amazing, I wonder why they're circling our boat? What did you throw in the water this morning?" Kathy-"Just some papaya peels and egg shells.... I'm not swimming from the boat. Do you think I'd be ok on the paddle board? What if the sharks rammed the board?" Dave-"That wouldn't be good."

Now that we have our dinghy patched up and the glue has dried 24 hours we'll put it back in the water and zip down the reef, then quickly get in the water before we have too much time to count all the sharks circling about.

That's it for now.

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