Tales of a Modern Day SHARK WRANGLER
What happens with a high power civil litigator lawyer from London, England decides she is through Swimming With The Sharks in court? She decides to feed them!
Meet Ingrid Sprake, Stuart Cove’s newest female shark wrangler and feeder. Ingrid is half Welsh and half Austrian and hales from Wales where among her talents as litigator, she speaks fluent Welsh (the oldest Celtic language). After graduating in London from law school, Ingrid practiced civil ligation for several years in London’s courts before seeing a roadway billboard advertising scuba diving. From that sign, she decided to become certified, doing her check–out dives in balmy Tor Quay, Southern England.
It did not take Ingrid long to start traveling to dive, first setting out to dive in India then Vietnam. In 2002, she become a PADI divemaster in Thailand, which further fueled her passion for diving, and allowed her to chock-off all the major Southeast Asia countries from her ‘to do’ dive list. Then in 2003, she landed in Australia, decided to practice law for a couple of years… Did not take long before the dive bug caught her again, and she became a PADI Open Water Dive Instructor in Cannes, Northern Australia. There she spent a couple of years diving and teaching on the Great Barrier Reef.
But her passion for adventure did not stop there. She managed to work and dive in the Red Sea, then Costa Rica, Honduras, and the Caymans and finally came to Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas in 2009. Ingrid has a passion for the ocean, and a passion for its’ protection. Having volunteered at both the Whale Shark Oceanic Research Center in Honduras, and the Central Caribbean Maine Institute in Little Cayman, her passion for protection and education contributed to her coming to Nassau, Bahamas.
In her words…
“Sharks are really what bought me to Stuart Cove’s. My first shark dive was in Thailand and I was absolutely terrified, but as I traveled the world, I began to realize how rare it is to dive so close with the ocean’s greatest predator; sharks. My fascination with sharks carried me all over the world, eventually ending up here where my journey has really reached its apex: feeding sharks.
I am a new shark wrangler and feeder. We have to undergo hundreds of hours on the shark dive training, and learning how to identify behaviors and keep the experience controlled. All the hard work paid off as my first official feed was Sunday, January 3rd, 2010, just a few days ago. I still feel the adrenaline rush, but am honored and respectful of these creatures at the same time. Having been an eco-worrior for many years, it is so great to be able to contribute to awareness and collecting knowledge about our sharks. Just today, we had baby female Caribbean Reef shark, less than 3’ (1m) and was so cool to see this baby shark and realize that they are thriving and populating, and the shark feed experience is contributing in a positive manner to the ocean reef environment.
Having worked with the Central Caribbean Marine Institute as well as the Whale Shark Oceanic Research Center, the Stuart Cove conservation and education message is vitally important to protecting this amazing species of sharks.
But I think I can summarize the whole experience by a couple of recent events: Aside from having my mask knocked off while feeding two days ago (yes, was a bit intense), I had the pleasure of having a friend come diving that had a common unnatural fear of sharks. When my friend surfaced after the feed, she said the experience was like ‘living through your worse nightmare and enjoying every moment!’ The experience has completely changed her view of sharks. Another guest just yesterday said the whole experience was ‘mesmerizing’ – I guess that is what I love – helping people to see that sharks are amazing, perfect predators, and need our protection. They are critical to our eco-system and only by understanding these amazing creatures can we work together to preserve one of the ocean’s greatest animals; sharks.”
For more details about Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas, visit www.StuartCove.com