Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
Three months later, I had the chance to encounter hammerhead sharks again, in Indonesia (again), during a diving cruise on board the Waow, in the eastern part of the archipelago, in the Banda Sea. This time, the show is less stealthy!
This year 2015 is definitely the year of hammers, in my little life as a diver...
Updated February 2018. The Waow???? Unfortunately, this magnificent diving cruise ship that used to sail the waters of the Indonesian archipelago, and on which I had the chance to embark in 2015, no longer exists... ???? Unfortunately, it burned and sank in the bay of Cenderawasih, Indonesia, during the night of January 31 to February 1, 2018. I refer you to the message published on their Facebook page and on their site.
Having said that, when it comes to underwater photos, I'm not spoiled: on each of our "hammer" outings, from the Banda archipelago to Kurkap island, the visi is rather rotten and my autofocus is slipping, unable to manage the focus in this heavy water...
(For non-divers: underwater "visibility" can be very changeable and can vary from just a few meters to more than 25m, from one site to another, from one day to another, sometimes even from one hour to another, depending on suspended particles and plankton, linked to currents, tides, weather, etc.). Sharks can only be seen at the very last moment, they seem to emerge from the greenish blue "fog" of the water.
As a result, I haven't been able to take a single photo of hammerhead sharks... I have to admit that Indonesian waters are probably not the most favourable for photographing these animals - and I've been given promising names like the Galapagos, Cocos Island, the Bahamas... So many destinations to put on my diver's bucket list!
In short, the only images I have to offer you are in fact screenshots, from the film made by the videographer of the Waow, Steffan Kilby...who managed to get closer to them than I did. With his permission, I will give you an excerpt below.
Face to face with the sharks
I keep a moving memory of my first real face-to-face with a big hammer, at the Karang Hatta site in the Banda archipelago, at the beginning of the cruise. It appeared in the middle of the blue mud, right in my line of sight, but immediately took off without asking for the rest. There was no time to take his picture... frustrating.
After the dive, Refly, guide on the Waowis a good alternative model. But, how can I put it... It's much less impressive. 😆
Several times, during our different dives in the Banda Sea, we will encounter hammers. But we have to move away from the reef and swim in the "blue" to hope to see them... The sharks patrol nearby, in numbers. But weighed down by my bulky cameraI don't swim fast enough, and the top divers are often luckier than I am at seeing a shoal of hammers in the distance.
The most varnished among us manage however to get close enough to them, especially around Kurkap, a small isolated island in the Moluccas, between the Banda Sea and the Seram Sea.
As for me, the only time I really find myself close to a hammer, at a distance that finally allows me to make a potentially fabulous picture, is... at only 5m from the surface, at the end of the dive, at the landing! Unbelievable...
It was in the Banda archipelago, at the Karang Hatta site again, where we dived several times in a row. A very large shark suddenly appeared in front of us, just when we were least expecting it.
Surprised, I open my eyes behind my mask, understanding that it is indeed a hammer, again: I quickly make out the flattened mouth, I see the left eye staring at me, a massive, powerful body, almost coppery grey, the lateral movement of a long tapering tail... The whole thing scrolls 3-4 meters away from me... Waooooow !!!! 😮
The time to point the camera, to try a focus, to launch the video mode, the beast is already only a vague shadow of a shark in the bluish fog...
But I still marvel at it. This kind of encounter is both impressive and magical. Seeing such an animal evolve so closely, even for a short moment, is worth all the reports of National Geographic ! The hammers really enchanted our first dives.
Sharks and men
My non-diving friends don't quite understand the crazy excitement of diving among these animals.
On my return from Indonesia, I have to explain to a colleague, who is a little taken aback by my enthusiasm, that no, it is not dangerous. That sharks are not bloodthirsty animals that throw themselves like angry monkeys at any human being in their vicinity. On the contrary, it is often difficult to get close to them when they are bottle diving, as they are rather frightened by a long line of sharks continuously releasing strings of noisy and sparkling bubbles. I can see that what I am saying surprises him.
My sister was convinced, in all seriousness, that a shark in front of a man almost inevitably attacks him. And I naively thought that everyone had understood - by then - that Spielberg's film, Jaws (1975), was fiction.
I don't think so. Most people don't know anything about how sharks actually behave. And minds are still scarred by the terrible stories of shark-bitten surfers and swimmers, such as in the meeting or in Australia. These dramas are fortunately very rare and sharks kill much less than mosquitoes, crocodiles, bees or snakes. But the sea is a wilderness, impossible to domesticate. There will always be areas and certain conditions that present some risk for swimmers and surfers.
My green minute
As a result, sharks are not likely to inspire as many good feelings as baby seals, even though they are victims of a hallucinating overfishing - mainly for their fins, allegedly aphrodisiacs, which end up in soup in Asia and are the subject of a lucrative trade.
We don't realize it, earthlings that we are, but these marine super predators are indispensable to the balance of the ocean ecosystem. itself vital to the planet. If they disappear, we're in trouble.
I know that between a shark and a cute cat, people will always prefer a cute cat...
But I prefer the not cute shark, alive and as big as possible, a sign that it has managed to reach a certain maturity that will allow it to reproduce.
One thing is certain, when there are no more sharks in the oceans, it will be the beginning of the end. Beans, cute cats and humans.
Anyway, I'm glad I came across so many sharks during the this cruise aboard the Waow. It comforts. In addition to the hammers, we met classic black tip sharks, one or two fox sharks with their huge whip-tails and, in the Raja Ampat archipelago, a lot of carp sharks or wobbegongs and even a shy "walking" bamboo shark... hopefully.
I was a guest of the Waow from 27 October to 8 November 2015, for this diving cruise called "Secrets of Seram". All the opinions expressed here remain 100% mine.