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Scuba Adventures, including a Shark Attack (Caught on Video!)

Have you ever played with sharks?  How about a chance meeting with a hungry one? Or been in a shark attack ?

Picture this: You are immersed in the deep blue ocean, stepping into a new world filled with vast wildlife and intricate ecosystems.  Hanging out with sharks, playful dolphins, mellow turtles, and flamboyant fish. Floating through their world and seeing how they spend their day.  Seeing beautiful deep canyons, rolling hills, and vivid colors of both plant and animal life that never touches the surface of the earth where we spend most of our lives.

Diving is a life changing experience and one of the reasons we chose Belize for our travels, as it is home to some of the best diving in the world.  We are exclusively warm water divers and had not dived in two years before we started our dive adventures again this October so we were a bit anxious and had some nervous, but excited bellies the morning of our first dive.  (the best diving typically takes place in the morning).

After you arrive at the dive shop for your scheduled dive the process can be rather quick, they fit you with the right equipment (BCD, regulator, mask, and fins) and then typically have you jump in the boat and go right out. Then you have a 5 to 10 minute boat ride out to the reef, which always seems to make me sea sick and I can’t get out of the boat fast enough!   Once at the dive site we are immediately ushered to get our equipment on and topple overboard backwards (backward roll entry).  The fresh ocean air, beautiful warm water and the thought that I am about to enter another world, eases my mind.  Being underwater always quiets my mind and brings me to the present moment.

As its Johnny’s 6th dive of his life he asked the instructor to keep the dive in a range of 30-40 feet for his first dive of the trip. As in true Belizean fashion they take us to a spot that is 60 feet. We make a slow decent guided by a rope down to bottom of the reef where the boat is anchored to a cement bock.

The Belizean scuba instructors are chill, laid back people and if you want to do something you need to be clear on your expectations and where you would like to go.  Otherwise they will just choose a spot they like and are comfortable with.  This is their lively hood and they dive pretty much every day with around 600 dives a year. They don’t necessary realize the uneasiness someone might feel about the actual depth they go down (I can’t even really tell the difference between 40 and 60 feet except when I look at my gauge).  Johnny did not give them enough detail of his exact expectations or ask enough questions about the dive prior to going. So he ended up going deeper than he was comfortable with.  But he still did it! Another fear faced.

For you control freak out there (Aka Johnny) who need to know the exact plan before going out, make sure to ask and be assertive. The scuba instructors are more than willing to let you know what to expect.  Chino from Seastar does a great job of getting acquainted before you head out learning your experience level and giving you a clear picture of the plan for the day (unfortunately for Johnny I went out with Chino on my all girls trip).

Now I wouldn’t say that I am an advanced diver by any means and I still have a tendency to float up and down trying to avoid hitting the coral reef as I am still learning and struggle sometimes to control my buoyancy under water, which is fun for the dive master who tells me to let some air in and out of my BCD constantly or adds a weight to my belt. I’ll figure it out some day.

During our first dive where Johnny was forced to face his fear of diving 60 feet under water, our dive instructor Vladimir from Blue Heaven Dives had a calming effect on us as we slipped into the water and let our nerves ease away.  During the dive at Tuffy Canyon we saw a variety of fish, nurse sharks and an array of vividly colored coral.  We did not get any pictures during this dive because we were both too scared we would lose the go pro (click on the Tuffy Canyon link for a cool YouTube dive video I found that paints a good picture).  At one point Vladimir pointed up to show us how the rain was hitting the water’s edge, which was a first for Johnny!  After a 40 minute dive, we came up about 300 feet away from our boat, where Vladimir waved down our boat captain and he came and picked us up.  The entire dive took about 1 hour 15 minutes from dock to dock.

My favorite and most memorable dive was with Seastar with some friends I met in Belize to Tres Coco Canyons.  There we went out to lush underwater hills and canyons and saw a trumpet fish, octopus, a school of dolphins, and played with some nurse sharks!   I attempted my first go pro underwater filming as the dive master Chino feeds the nurse sharks.

With the stick pointed out towards them I was capturing it all!!! As I’m filming out of nowhere the shark comes up and tries to bite at my go pro selfie stick thinking I was feeding it my go pro!  Realizing it is not that tasty he quickly swims away, but it was enough to get my heart beating and my blood pumping, I try to calm down and breath in and out laughing a bit as I know I am not in any real danger.  The good news is I caught it all on video so you can watch along!   In all reality nurse sharks are very docile creatures, and I consider them more like dogs then what the average person would think of as scary killer sharks.

Overall diving in Belize was a wonderful experience and we loved hanging out with all the wildlife underwater checking out how they spend their day and enjoying all the bright and rich colors in the world under the sea.

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