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Posted: May 1, 2009


Truth is stranger than fiction but I had to share this just in case it's truth. At any rate it's a good story even if it is photo shopped.

Deborah Cidboy, an artist/writer friend of mine, sent me an interesting email and since I have been known to swim around in shark infested waters I thought I'd post it because it's a good lesson learned.

It starts off with the message: "Chris is a scuba diver - best dives, so far, have been in the Red Sea."

Then I scrolled on down and it read: "Family on holiday in Australia for a week and a half when husband, wife, and their 15-year-old son decided to go scuba diving. The husband is in the navy and has had some scuba experience. His son wanted a picture of his mum and dad in all their gear so he got the underwater camera ready to go. When it came to taking the picture the dad realized that the son looked like he was panicking as he took it and gave the 'OK' hand sign to see if he was all right.

The son took the picture and swam to the surface and back to the boat as quick as he could so the mum and dad followed to see if he was OK. When they got back to him he was scrambling onto the boat and absolutely panicking. When the parents asked why he said, 'there was a shark behind you.' The dad thought he was joking but the skipper of the boat said it was true, but they wouldn't believe him. As soon as they got back to the hotel they loaded the picture onto the laptop and this is what they saw.

(Try and tell me you wouldn't have emptied your Entire digestive system right at the point you saw it!)

Would you have stayed to take the picture? Maybe what saved them was that the shark wasn't hungry, they were in the water not on the surface, and there was no fear coming from them - only because they were not aware. Probably better that the kid didn't point for them to look behind them."

I remember the first time I saw a shark while scuba diving. It was a nurse shark and lying on the bottom in the sand. I had been told they were harmless. I knew they were harmless and at first had no fear. But when I started thinking about it, fear crept in and I felt it run through my body like electricity. I wanted to "haul it" out of the vicinity as quickly as possible, just in case I was around the only rogue nurse shark in the universe.

And like the 15-year-old son in the above story, I too have been scared out of my wits, panicking to get back on the boat once when I was being surrounded by barracudas. My dive master had told me not to worry about them because "they're harmless and if they do attack, it's because of the shiny tank on your back. Normally barracudas will spit you out after the first bite because humans aren't a food source." Those comforting words didn't ease my mind. I had to wait for eons because the water was choppy and the boat's ladder would lift from the sea and crash back down again. I had to time my exit. Once I grabbed the ladder, I had to hold on until the boat crashed back down once again before hauling myself and the heavy gear strapped on my back to safety. That meant my legs were dangling. The wait was sheer agony.

Later, when I looked up "barracuda" I learned there were isolated cases where barracudas had bitten a human though the cases were rare and believed to be caused by bad visibility. My dive master had a scar that ran from his ear to his collar bone. He said it was a mishap with an eel that had poor eyesight. He said, "I no longer feed the eels fish hanging from between my teeth. I almost bled to death before they could get me to land and to the hospital."

Wise decision, if a little late. And I was teamed up with him on the dive as a partner because we could both conserve air which meant we could stay down longer. My luck, an entire school of inbred barracuda needing trifocals would find me and they'd all chomp down "one time" in unison with their powerful jaws that held strong fang-like teeth. Voracious predators, they relied on surprise attacks and could travel with bursts of speed up to 28 miles per hour. Sometimes, it was best to heed the advice, "Don't look back."

However, like the title of John Ortberg's book, If You Want To Walk On Water, You've Got To Get Out Of The Boat, you can't worry about the sharks and barracudas in life who will always be lurking trying to grab your sparkle. If you do, you'll never get to enjoy the view on your journey. You'll never get out of the boat. I like that advice. Don't look back.

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Email to....:vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com