When an e-mail coupon offers the chance to go nose-to-nose with many fish whose teeth are WAY bigger than yours, how do you say no?
Not us … we signed up quickly! (otherwise, how could we post about it?)
Underwater World in Mooloolooba (try saying that name fast three times) hosts the Shark Dive Xtreme experience, which offers you up as bait for 8 species of shark, stingrays and hundreds of fish for an hour and a half in their spacious tank.
Before the tour guides chuck you into the pool, they hose you down with shark food scent.
Ok, maybe not, but they do tell you exactly what to expect and do, before asking you to put on the designer suit they selected to best match your size and (presumably) shade of mascara. I bet the fish thought we looked very stylish in blue!
It’s bad enough when you notice all the rubber suit’s rips, gashes and missing finger tips as you pull it on. What’s worse is when you are foolish enough to joke about the tears, only to hear stories of just how playful the fish have gotten…
Getting into the water is never graceful when you are loaded down with a heavy tank and ungainly equipment. Here it was even more awkward, as the concrete floor was slippery and the metal ladder you use to descend into the water was a bit skimpy. At least we did not have to navigate the steps wearing flippers.
Once inside the tank, and breathing underwater normally, we floated down from the holding pen to the part of the aquarium visible to museum visitors. We were now part of the show! We looked a lot like moon-walkers, as the way one moves around is by shuffling along by foot slowly and awkwardly, desperately hoping to avoid an embarrassing loss of balance.
We paused several times in our single-file trek through the pool to watch the various sharks and rays swim past, clearly curious and checking us out. The rays were huge shadows that glided ominously over our heads. Mostly, the sharks kept their distance. Sometimes they would nudge a thigh or chest us as they swam by. Because of the water optics of light, the sharks look 30% larger underwater than they do when watching them safely from the other side of the glass.
Half way along the tank sits a mock-classical statue of Neptune, complete with trident. That’s what’s behind us in the picture on the left, bracing Claire just as that large shark to the right passes by rather suspiciously.
All in all, it was a great adventure we were thankful to have. We were especially grateful to learn (fortunately AFTER the dive) that the sharks were particularly frisky that day, having not been fed for the last 4 days. Gulp!