It’s an exhilarating feeling to stand eye-level with the most powerful and enigmatic animals in the sea. With a frozen herring in hand and a shark mouth bearing down on you, many might expect a flood of adrenaline, a harrowing if not terrifying moment. As the toothy grin snapped closed and this beautiful predator glided by I giggled; I was mesmerized. I had come to Grand Bahama Island to dive with Cristina Zenato, a Woman’s Diver Hall of Fame inductee, with a magical understanding and presence with sharks. Sure I’ve read shark stories but I craved my own experience to transcend all that society says and get to meet these animals on my own. There’s no doubt the products of 450 million years of evolutionary success are a commanding presence. Fifteen Caribbean reef sharks swirled around, their muscular bodies cutting through the water like highly sensory, food-seeking missiles. I felt a total joy and thrill sharing the water, but couldn’t help wondering how sharks earned such a bad reputation. Sure they’re stunningly powerful with a sharp business-end, but around me they clumsily bump into one another, careen into the wrong end of the PVC feeding tube, or completely miss a bait placed a few inches off their nose. It’s a public relations disaster that a shark is a scary word not an awe- inspiring one. Let’s take back our rightful title as the ‘most dangerous creature in the sea’ and give sharks the re-branding, respect and protection they deserve. I’m honored to be traveling this year as a Rolex Scholar to help myself and others know and love our blue planet. It’s an incredible adventure and I hope you’ll join me by subscribing to the blog at http://owussnorthamerica.org or by liking Megan Cook-Ocean Ambassador on Facebook.
Click here to learn more about the Scholarship program, including how to apply for the 2013 Scholarships: