''Can you feel them circling honey? Can you feel them schooling around? Fins to the left! Fins to the right! You're the only bait in town.'' - Jimmy Buffett These colorful lyrics are an apt description for the newest shark dive at Walker's Cay in the Bahamas. The encounter takes place in only about 5 feet of water. Wilder yet, bull sharks are the featured attraction of this dive instead of Atlantic reef sharks, the signature species of most other Bahamian shark encounters. Bull sharks are known as tough customers. They have compact bodies weighing as much as 500 pounds and measuring up to 10 feet in length. With its broadly rounded snout and dark gray body accented with bronze highlights, the bull shark resembles a Bradley tank. Between 15 and 20 of these brutes convene along the back of the island with ritual timing from early August until the end of April, says Gary Adkison, Walker's Cay dive operations manager. A few large lemon sharks also participate in the encounter, which is staged in the clear shallows next to the island's shoreline. Despite their fearsome reputation for displaying aggression or attacking without provocation, the sharks are typically calm, allowing snorkelers to move freely among them. One particular bull even permits a friendly scratch on the back now and then. As shark dives go, this is unquestionably a unique experience. Before anyone is allowed into the water, however, all participants must attend a shark-awareness course. The 90-minute session focuses on the natural behavior of sharks, including the various characteristics that can be used to help decipher their body language. ''Learning about the behavior of sharks is a key point of interest and the reason why people come to Walker's Cay,'' Adkison says. Since the average diver rarely interacts with sharks, the concept of the program is to give guests a better opportunity to see, hear and gain firsthand insight into the mannerisms of these majestic creatures. The underwater experience begins with the famed shark dive at Spiral Canyon. Zigzagging through Walker's northern barrier reef, Spiral Canyon's 40-foot-deep channel features a dramatic backdrop of towering ancient coral formations. Yet the scenery is quickly forgotten when 75 to 100 Atlantic reef, brown nurse and blacktip sharks arrive. The ticket to drawing the sharks is a frozen block of fish carcasses-known as a ''chum-sicle''-suspended 12 feet off the bottom. Once it is deployed, the sharks target the fish much the same way that a mob of hungry 8-year-olds would work over a large plate of chocolate chip cookies. Spending time in the middle of a large congregation of sharks can certainly tame any apprehension toward these apex predators. It soon becomes apparent that the sharks are here only for the food. Like a bunch of college students at a keg party, when the last scrap of fish is gone, so are most of the attendees. If you would like to make a reservation to come to Walkers Cay, or if you have some questions about the resort, call the US reservations office at:Tel: 1-800-925-5377 Fax 954-359-1414In Fort Lauderdale call: 954-359-1400. To contact someone at the resort directly call:Tel: 1-242-353-1252 Fax:1-242-353-1339
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