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You are here: /main/research/NWHI ED 2005/journals/j14-Barbara-Mayer

By Barbara Mayer, Sunday, August 14, 2005

Curious ... I think thatís the word Andy used to describe the shark behavior we would see at our final snorkel spot of the day. Hey, I can go with curious; isnít that we educators are trying to stimulate in our classroom?

I had already seen a shark at the last spot; it was way below me, slowly cruising across a sandy area to hide under a lava rock ledge. No problem. The day before I think I saw half a dozen sharks. They too cruised nonchalantly some distance away. No problem.

But this 4.5 foot white tip reef shark was very, very curious. He (could have been a "she," but I had no desire to get close enough to look for claspers, found only on males.) This shark was not properly raised by his parents, because he invaded my personal space. At one point he moved a little further away, and I sent a sigh of relief up my snorkel. But then he came back.

At this point Sandy Webb, my buddy, and I did an automatic female response to danger: we held hands, and I mean a white knuckle grip. Neither of us panicked, but Iím sure I was putting out "Iím afraid" pheromones, if there is such a thing. I also remember, as I tried to look the shark face on, trying to send a mental message to him, "I am NOT part of your food chain." But I think I am.

At some point a second shark joined us. Meanwhile, Sandy and I, still gripped together, slowly "back peddled" to the boatÖand we made it! Thatís why youíre reading this now, instead of some other message.

Todayís activities include snorkeling at two places within the French Frigate Shoals complex. The underwater world should be especially beautiful here because FFS has types of coral that are not found anywhere else in Hawaiíi. Iím not going to miss this, but I hope FFS sharks are more polite.


Talk About It!

Questions for a teacher

Asked by jonathan from kamehameha on Aug 17, 2005.
Was that shark you saw come up to you? Also do you like to be on that trip or be back here at Kamehameha Middle Schools?

P.S. Please write back to me please?

Answered by Barbara Mayer on Aug 19, 2005.
Hi Jonathan,

How nice to hear from you!

For your first question I think you might be asking about the kind of shark I saw. It was a white-tip shark, about 4-5' long. As soon as my snorkeling buddy and I got to the boat, the shark swam off. I consider myself lucky to have had this experience!

Today we are going by small boat, leaving the big ship, and going to a small, flat atoll island for the whole day. We'll be given all sorts of presentations. I know one is going to be on sea turtles. Then we're going to go snorkeling with clipboards and waterproof paper. We're going to do a transect survey of a reef. I plan to bring the
data back to our classroom to share!

I have to be honest: I'd rather be here on the ship instead of the classroom!--but not forever. I don't think I'd like to spend weeks and weeks on a ship, but I'm glad to be having this experience. More than anything, I look forward to meeting you and all the Kukui Nutz!

much aloha,
Ms. Mayer


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