Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oceanic Whitetip Shark with Pilot Fish of the Anniversary '09

Continued from the post:  Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin Baby Jump of the Anniversary '09.

Due to the increasingly bad ocean swells, we decided to go south for fishing & whatever. After a mile or so, my wife spotted a few unusual dorsal fins between large white-capped swells.

I soon recognized they were a couple of pygmy killer whales, Feresa attenuata. They are not that common to see like spinners or spotted dolphins. Men! Things happen on our anniversary. Now you believe me, right? I seriously started believe in some sort of Karma we have between us and the ocean.

I slipped into the water to greet them. Usually a "scout" comes in and check me out but there appeared only two swimming by.

I saw them in the distance but they seemed to be in a hurry, perhaps to catch up with their main pod ahead somewhere.

As I was swimming back to my boat, I felt in my sixth sense that some one was watching me from behind. Yes, it was. A fair size oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharhinus longimanus.

This actually happens quite often when the underwater visibility is low, and sharks can sneak up behind. Sure it was bad on that day because of the rough ocean and partially cloudy condition. But when this happens, I learned not to panic over the years.

oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharhinus longimanus, with pilot fish, Naucrates ductor, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

I dove & snapped a couple of shots as she was investigating me at the close range. The shark was a thing of beauty. Long pectoral fins were down and she was swimming straight at me along with three pretty pilot fish, Naucrates ductor. I don't get much opportunities to see this shark with many pilot fish around here (that is very common in Red Sea), so I was very excited about seeing those fish along with the shark.

After she circled me twice, she swam away into the deep blue ocean and disappeared all together. Because of the bad vis, I was unable to relocate her after that.

Meanwhile my wife was in panic seeing the shadows of the shark and me over-wrapping on the ocean surface for a while. It only appeared two were struggling underwater when seen from the boat.

I came back to the surface after a single long dive, I signaled my wife that I was ok.

The encounter was brief but she definitely gave me a shot to remember on our anniversary, in addition to the Hawaiian monk seal youngster.

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