Monday, 1 August 2011

Upping the ante!

So, our time here is running out...FAST! I wanna apologise again for the lack of updates but for the last week or so we have been sans internet which has been very frustrating but hey, I'm in the South Pacific, what did I expect?!

The other thing which hasn't been going according to plan either is the weather, the last week or so has seen pretty miserable skies, tonnes of rain and a fair bit of wind meaning surface conditions aren't great and the viz in the water has been variable to say the least. With visibility in mind, it's a bit of a double edged sword, on one hand, the murkier water makes the Bulls in particular more energetic, more unpredictable and they get closer, very close! However, with all that cool stuff going on, the murky water also makes the capture of these sequences very difficult, more action, less clarity. C'est la vie!
Speaking of getting close, that's what the final stages of production will be all about getting even closer to these animals. Being within touching distance of what may be the biggest Bull Sharks in the world is a pretty awe-inspiring experience, to move away from the confines of the walls and barriers which are expertly patrolled by the safety team ensuring all guests leave fully intact is no small matter.

Do I think I'm ready to take those next steps? Yes, of course, is it up to me? Hell no! You can't just go and play around with these sharks if you don't know what you're doing or have an understanding of how to handle both yourself and them. Will I be nervous? Yeah, probably a bit but that's not a bad thing, I have no intention of trying to be a hero and if I get the chance and don't feel comfortable, I will say so, there would be no shame in that because not many people at all get to venture out there, certainly not many like me!

This film is about relationships, convictions in one's beliefs and courage and all three relate back to the sharks here, my relationship and growing level of communication with these sharks, my relationship with Mike and everyone I meet here in Fiji, and just as important, my relationship with myself but remember this isn't all about me. The courage and belief these amazing people in Fiji have displayed in establishing, protecting and servicing a one off shark diving site which has now become, in my opinion, THE model for shark conservation for the rest of the world to follow is one hell of an achievement. What we can only hope is that there are more people like Mike and his team in other parts of the world with the courage to use this model and really get stuck into saving sharks. I hope so, but I fear not.

Going over "the edge" could be a metaphor for many things but in essence it is what it is, challenging one's self to test his own beliefs and ideals of himself and the sharks he loves so much and trusting that they play along. It's about respect, first and foremost respect for the animals, then respect for people putting you in this situation and then, that these guys with perhaps more experience with what lazy wordsmiths refer to as "The World's Most Dangerous Shark" than anyone else on the planet, trust that I am capable of doing it right and that hopefully they respect the reasons why I am doing it and end up respecting me. It's not for the "buzz," will it be a buzz? Of course it will, is that why I want to do it? No. It is all about the above and hopefully putting out a message that "Shark Week" ain't the bastion of all shark truths, quite the opposite in fact.

Anyway, what else? I went out with Hamish this morning to film Papa and Toombi laying the bait bins at around 6am. Now, different people find enjoyment in different things, watching telly, playing sport, playing music, taking all manner of illegal chemicals, whatever, I don't judge so don't judge me when I say getting up at 5am to dump bins full of fish heads in to the sea was a blast. Going down with the bin in that eerie pre-daylight, pre-humanised world and being circled by five friendly (and totally non-threatening) Grey Reef Sharks and joined briefly by a big Bull and a Whitetip Reef Shark was, well, it was mint! Also great to spend some time with Hamish and the unlucky B.A.D Boys who got rostered with the early morning, watching a beautiful sunrise and smelling of rotting tuna. Seriously, that is my idea of fun and I want to do it again, in fact, a proper early morning dive down there would be even better but I don't see that happening.

As for the film itself, I'm getting there but this last week ain't gonna be a holiday. There is still a shed load to do, will we pull it off? I sure hope so but time is running out so there is a lot of sweat and tears to go, no blood though as these sharks are thankfully, pretty well behaved...Usually! There are already a few I have become particularly fond of, the really heavy set, powerful and dominant Bulls, Maite, Grandma and Gill and a Grey Reef Shark called Tootsie, although Mike usually refers to Tootsie as "an arsehole" due to her very forthright, confident and aggressive nature but all that makes her a great performer. I prefer "Tootsie."

The big story is still no Tiger and I am starting to get a horrible sinking feeling we won't get one whilst we are here, the day one did turn up, "Adi," I was not diving, instead I was either throwing up or asleep due to a 24 hour bug or some dodgy Heineken, I wasn't told to give the canned beers a swerve here due to issues before so having one as a treat before bed turned into something rather grisly a few hours later but the less said about that the better!

Due to internet issues we have been unable to upload any more video diaries which is a real shame however, to compensate, if we cannot do so in the remaining week, I'll pop a load of stuff up online when I get back by way of an apology to you all.

Finally, Alex and Lisa, tell Sam and Charlie that Uncle David is bringing them back some shark teeth and they couldn't be fresher, a couple of them popped out of the mouths of some very big sharks right before my very eyes, pretty cool eh?

After having said the weather is finally improving, it's just started raining again...Bugger. Let's hope Dakuwaqa gives me a boost and throws some good fortune my way, I want this Tiger so badly...

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