Hawaii has some of the world’s most scenic beaches, jungles, and underwater playgrounds accessible to the average Joe. Whether you live in Hawaii or your visiting, one commonality is for sure; neither of us like to feel cheated. I can recall spending money on tours or activities to realize I could have easily had the same experience (or better) for free, had I prepared. So how do you choose where to spend your hard earned cash, and to feel good about where it goes? Do a little research. It’s crucial to feel good about who you hand money to, because that same dollar flows toward a bigger picture. Which in the end, will always come full circle. This summer I had a milestone birthday, 30. I wanted to do something that would be memorable, and more importantly would make me grow. I wanted to do something I feared. So I chose freediving in Hawaii’s open ocean with sharks, did I mention cageless! Everything about it made my skin crawl, but there’s not many things that do. So I was game. Anytime the topic got brought up, I refused to talk about it until it was over. Today, I’m the one wanting to talk about sharks.
Like a steam boat in the open ocean being fueled by the blazing heat, rapid momentum, and the labor of a hundred men. I felt my temperature rise, my heart pulse, and every organ create space inside me I never knew existed. Each individual organ climbed on top of another to escape the inevitable plunge. I glanced at my palms and identified the puddles of salt springs, each with a flashback, reminding me of the scared girl I used to be. Those hands were much smaller and less callused than they are today. The birds called to me like it may be the last song they sing. It was challenging to differentiate each sound. Were the winds talking to me? Or a voice inside my head? Contemplating and debating, my mind was fighting to stay present. My body felt like it was in a dream. I couldn’t find my grounding. I felt no connection to the Earth; disconnected, vulnerable, and an alien in my own skin. She rocked us like children in a cradle. She knew my fear, yet knew my potential. We are made from the same, but so different. Her overwhelming size, capability, and power is unmatched. She came before me, and she will remain after me. She’s forever my mentor, Mother Sea.
My toes reject the commands to tickle the glassy blue surface. Every emotion runs through me, like a new father receiving news of a healthy baby by cost of losing the mother. The excitement is paired with pain. I was ready to lose this giver of life, this misplaced fear that got me here. I held my breath and crinkled my toes. It felt as if a warm blanket came over me. Peace came over me as each inch of my cold shivering body submerged. With a fully conscious mind, I pried each eye open, lash by lash. Silence, pure silence. My body weightless and my mind blank, I stared deep into the vast blue playground. Just beneath my toes, massive creatures roamed effortlessly, and graciously. The blue canvas was endless. This was a moment I had avoided forever, humbled at the mercy of the open ocean. Unsheltered… yet, free.
On July 13th, I swam with twenty Galapagos sharks. We signed up for a early morning tour to get the calmest waters, with the most active sharks. My birthday was fast approaching, and this was a bucket list check off I’d never forget. I was referred to this specific company more than once. The intimate group of six awaited the arrival for the boat that reads ONEOCEANDIVING.com. We cruised about three miles from Haleiwa shore. During this time, the team engaged our full attention. One Ocean Diving educated us on some key facts about the nature of sharks, body language, physiology, and things we should know as active contributors to their existence. Sharks were nothing like the creatures I had previously imagined. Though everyday is different for the One Ocean Diving team, the purpose is always the same. One Ocean Diving aims to educate about shark conservation, while offering genuine experiences with Hawaii’s most magnificent creatures. Each tour gives the team an opportunity to collect data for continued research. They see all types of marine life including whale sharks, tiger sharks, hammerheads, turtles, and so much more! Your dollar directly contributes to research and education for a healthier environment. Be educated and awed by the best of Hawaii.
Needless to say, this was a life changing experience. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves sharks, but mostly to those who fear sharks. That’s who I was before my experience with One Ocean Diving. Fear is not the feeling I experience when I think of sharks today. The sharks respected my space, as I respected theirs. They were curious but cautious, just as I was. I found more similarities between us as I let my prior ideologies drift away. One of the most shocking factors I learned was how rapidly we are losing sharks. They are being killed at an extremely horrifying rate. Some record the loss as high as 90% of our ocean’s shark population. Every second 2-3 sharks are killed, estimating around 100 million sharks per a year! Shark finning is the biggest contributor to the loss of these significant creatures. We need sharks as they need us. They keep our oceans healthy. Recycling, reducing waste, and reusing plastics are everyday habits we should practice in efforts to care for our oceans. There is much more information available online, do some research about shark conservation, and explore what you can do to help.
Many Mahalos to Ocean Ramsey, founder of One Ocean Diving, and the entire team who continue to educate, research, and protect our oceans.
Music by @kbongmusic