Chaos rains in the school of Bohar snappers. The red big-eyed fish are everywhere – darting beside the plastic blue crate of dead fish, changing direction with the flick of a tail and nibbling at anything they think resembles food. Apart from the frenzy the media love to build around sharks I don’t know why anyone gets hysterical at the sight of them – it’s the small things that get you. On our drift dive in the main channel late this afternoon we had four or five grey reef sharks at one time cruising around the bait box together amidst the wave of the red snappers and Rainer in the middle of it dragging the buoy back to the reef’s edge. Smelling the bait but only being able to catch the escaping morsels the snappers had a go at his mask, Tom’s ears, Kim’s blonde hair and my fingers! I think we all now have neat little puncture marks either on us or on our equipment and Rainer’s hands are beginning to look like they have been through a cheese grater courtesy of several attempts by a potato grouper to chomp his hand. All the while the grey reefs swim around keeping their cool and know exactly what’s fish and what’s not.
Our mornings are now down to precision timing: up at 6h00, load boat at 06h30, head out at 06h45. This morning we went straight up the main channel, anchored and baited the water with litres of tuna oil, two mesh bags and one large crate of mackerels. We sat, stood, mashed fish, and baited constantly for four hours before the sharks showed up. The current was too strong for them to swim against as we arrived on an outgoing tide, and even once it was low tide the lag time for the immense volume of water to empty out of the lagoon meant that the current continued at a rate of about 5 knots long after low tide. Once it slackened a train of lemon sharks and a few black tips slowly approached the baited crate. Shy at first we lured them all the way to the back of the boat with dead fish, counting a total of 12 sicklefin lemon sharks before joining in them in the water. With us in the water and the bait out, however they soon disappeared. The visibility was horrendous but it was good to be in the water with a few large lemons, besides Tom got some super split level images from the back of the boat before we got in.
Bait station 1 at Pass Dubois was refilled but the current pouring into the lagoon vetoed our planned dive and snorkel and we couldn’t even find bait station 2, despite GPS co-ordinates, because the visibility was so bad.
The swell is up and our return to the beach was not quite as smooth as it has been – resulting in all of us pushing the boat out from the sand before a wave tipped it over!
With still no large shark species about we are heading off shore tomorrow to the deep blue to see what we can find. A Turkish ship that has been moored here for a couple of days left today – with no map and not enough fuel to get to the African Coast… I wonder if we will find them and not the large sharks tomorrow!?