-BULL SHARKS -
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO
We jumped off the boat after a very successful trip to Tiger beach, in the Northern Bahamas, to catch a taxi to the airport and head out to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for one last shark dive of the season. Back in February 2010 we went to Playa, but ended up having bull shark encounters that were not great due to a construction project that scared and scattered the bulls away. It took a few days for the bulls to return but when they finally returned, they were not that interested in playing with us. So I was hoping for a better experience for our return visit. Thankfully I was just blown away. The shark action was some of the best we had ever experienced, and our host dive operator Phantom Divers, was just amazing.
Our first day of diving the weather could not have been more perfect. We had sunny skies, and the ocean and currents were just the best it could be. It was all looking like it was going to be an amazing day at sea, but until I see that first shark, you just never know. Charlie, Phantoms lead shark feeder assured me that the bulls were there and everything was good. But when you deal with the ocean, you just never know. The ocean is alive, and always changing, and it is not a zoo. Plus a few weeks prior to our arrival, a shark fisherman had come in and caught a few of the bulls and sent the rest scattered and hiding. It was such upsetting news to know that some of the these big beautiful sharks ended up on someones plate. The bulls eventually returned, but the idea that someone could come in and kill off this population of breeding females was extremely upsetting. What it did do was light a fire under everyones ass and now they are working non-stop to ensure that these animals get some protection there in Playa. More on that later.
Dropping down on our first dive I started looking for shadows and I am stoked to see plenty of big shapes headed our way. There was a slight current but nothing bad. We were able to drop down to the feeding site pretty quickly and find our spots for the show to begin. Charlie the head feeder here begins working his magic. It is clear that just like the lemon sharks at tiger beach there is a pecking order, and the biggest and boldest sharks are the ones who get to eat first. Bully which is easily the largest female bull shark in the 20 plus sharks that showed up for the morning dive, was always the first shark to show up.
The first thing I observed about the differences between the lemons at Tiger Beach to what I witnessed here is the way the sharks move. The bulls move so different, there is a just an intense raw energy with these sharks and you can feel it. The lemons are a much calmer shark, of course they move with purpose, and they have an agenda, which is finding scraps of food, but they are not nervous sharks. They bulls it seemed were more on edge, and I am not sure if it was because of us, or if its just they way they are? I guess I am just going to have to keep showing up to finally find out for sure what it is.
I really like these sharks. I liked the way they move, and the way they communicated with Charlie.When I interact with lemon sharks there is always order and it often feels like a ballet. But when Charlie interacted with his bulls, it sort of felt like a wrestling match. Not that he was abusive, or punchy. The bulls are just rougher sharks. They are built like Tonka trucks and they move and dance around like in a mosh pit. There is just no other way to describe it.
A special thanks to Jorge "Chino" Loria and the staff at Phantom Divers for an amazing time... Until our next visit to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Un Abrazo!
Here is a short video I made about Charlie and the lady bulls of Playa del Carmen. Hope you enjoy...
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