Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Raggies Return!!!

I recently crossed the Botswana border back into South Africa and got a new visa! I am fully legit until the beginning of November now. It was like Christmas morning for me.

As with any plans in Africa, everything has changed once again. Now I am headed off to stay near Aliwal Shoal (Durban) with Mark and Gail Addison in preparation for the Shark Angels premier on July 31st.

I am moving part-time to the Durban area as well… While I love Capetown, the brutal cold rains and overcast skies that are their winter are absolutely killing me. Here I sit, tanned and warm from days in Botswana and I simply cannot face going home. Plus, who are we kidding… a chance to hang out with and live with some of my favorite people (including their darling daughter who is 6 going on 36 named Ella), how can I possibly head back to Capetown now?

When Mark told me that the Raggies are back in full force, with numbers that are not to be believed, I was so excited. More than 1oo were in Cathedral, piled three and four sharks deep After years of staying away, the Ragged Tooth Sharks are finally back! (We call them Sand Tigers in the states.)

Before heading off to Sodwana, we did an amazing (and quite unusual) night dive with the Raggies. Usually skittish, at night, they literally brush up against you, seemingly desperate for contact. I couldn’t believe the change in behavior versus the dive I had done a few days prior, when I couldn’t get within five feet without them slapping their tails like a shot and bolting off. Raggies are one of my favorite sharks, graceful and misunderstood, with a mouth full of vicious looking, snaggled teeth, they are definitely more bark than bite. A little like a Shark Angel, I think…

So our first dive with the Raggies was a stunning experience. Imagine 100 - 200 aggregating like the hammerheads of Cocos. I was thrilled. Mark said he has never seen so many together - and after years of concern, they have returned in healthy full force. Today, I felt like I witnessed a little natural miracle, which came at such a perfect time, as I was haunted by a story from Shawn about the 12 longliners that are being chased off every dive site in Cocos. Seeing the sharks in such full force gave me the shot in the arm I needed to continue charging forward to save the sharks. Sometimes it seems like such a daunting task...

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