(DiverWire) Contributing writer Jen Tempchin just returned from the South Pacific where she had some great underwater encounters. Here’s her latest DiverWire Destination feature. Descending upon the ocean floor on every dive in both Moorea and Bora Bora, a curious mix of black tip sharks, grey sharks and lemon shark greeted our small group of four divers. How lucky are we? There is a flood of instant admiration and fascination for these creatures that are as interested in us as we are with them. I am shocked that the sharks join us freely in the open ocean without chummed waters, well except for one decapitated ahi head that was tossed in for our entertainment on one Bora Bora dive.
Finally sharks EVERYWHERE! This is a dream come true – extremely warm water and lots of sharks! Some sharks even follow us like obedient dogs and some are equally disinterested and swim off into the blue.
While following one particular lemon shark’s eye movement, I noticed he was especially aware of where all the divers were and seemingly kept track of us. So it was intimidating to say the least to have this 12+ foot shark actually escort me to the surface at an unnatural almost 90 degree angle. I hustled up the ladder with exhilaration of being followed but then let go by a giant shark. Thoughts of “Open Water” flashed just for a moment. but quickly dissipated. However I wasn’t ready to let go of the adventure of free swimming with sharks, so I took my gear off and took a free dive back into the water while the others were still getting out of the water. There was no need for a mask with the ridiculously good Tahitian visibility of 100+ feet at any given spot. Lino, owner of Blue Moorea Diving, told us in the dive briefing that “The ocean life is not in the coral but all around, so look up, look behind you and to the side. Don’t just look down.” He was right.
There was anywhere from a few to thirty sharks throughout most of the dives and they all seemed to have a different place to hang out – some stayed on the surface, a couple circled each other down low and some in-between just watching the divers and each other.
What unreal dives these were, add in the vibrant coral, giant clams, gorgeous schools of triggerfish, moorish idols, unicornfish, moral eels, the flat-headed ramoras all around and chasing the sharks were just amazing. My dive buddy, Melissa Montgomery said “Diving with the sharks was the best part of traveling to Moorea and Bora Bora.” I completely agree!
At some point the rest of the seascape came into focus as the sharks faded away as 5 to14 foot dive buddies. After twenty years of diving, there aren’t many critters I haven’t seen at least once, so two types of “new-to-me” shells catch my eye – a turbo brunneus and a turbo marmoratus – they litter the ocean floor and bear a shiny mother-of-pearl underside, with a creature slipping back in upon inspection.
I absolutely love new experiences. So when Dany Lemire, an instructor with Top Dive Bora Bora, takes us to an ocean pass with the most unique topography, he pauses us all and points. Out of the blue, like they were on call for us, a school of manta rays with wing spans of 6+ feet glide by. What a breathtaking sight, between all these sharks and rays, these exceptional experiences in French Polynesia waters become defining moments in my dive career that ensure more dive expeditions.
Thank you to Tina at the French Polynesian tourist board for excellent advice in the dive logistics and planning of this trip. If you are diving in Moorea, please check out www.mooreabluediving.com with Lino and Solange or if you are traveling to Bora Bora (or anywhere else in French Polynesia), be sure and check out www.topdive.com with Eric and Dany for the best personal dive service.