Longimane shark came close, sticking to my goal! (Red Sea, Egypt, November 2017)
Longimane shark came close, sticking to my goal! (Red Sea, Egypt, November 2017)

The wink of the longfin shark


  Egypt : Red Sea - November 2017

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

Those who follow me on Facebook have already seen the video in preview... 🦈 Having the chance to observe a shark (or several), during a dive, it always makes your heart beat a little harder. But filming him in the back of his eye, because he decided to come and stick to the dome of your photo lens... how can I put it... It's an experience I'm not about to forget!!!

A meeting as intense as unexpected

I let you admire this totally unexpected, intense encounter, as I experienced it, with this longimanus shark (oceanic white tip shark)...It was November 13, 2017, at the very end of a dive at the Habili Ali (St. John's Reef) site in the southern Red Sea, Egypt.

At the end of an hour of immersion with my buddies of the day Anu and Alain, I discover, at the time of the safety stop, that a longfin shark is there, circling at the surface.

There are other divers around us, from another cruise ship than ours. Everybody is fascinated by the show. The shark passes and passes again under the boats, more interested than afraid of the divers.

A very curious shark

In this month of November 2017, I embarked, as in 2016 at the same time, for a diving-photo-apnea" cruiseorganized by my friends Phil Simha and Rémy Dubern, on board theExocet. Thanks to them, in 2016, I had already been able to observe the behavior of longimanes, in the Brothers Islands :

See the article → Under the sea with the longimanus sharks

Longimans do not hesitate to go up to shallow depths, they often come to run under the boats. (Small Brother, Red Sea, Egypt, October 2016)
Longimanes do not hesitate to come up at shallow depths, they often come to roam under the boats (Small Brother, Red Sea, Egypt, October 2016)

With this first experience, I am not particularly worried this time. On the contrary. I am happy of our chance, because the site where we are, Habili Ali, one of the reefs of the marine reserve which compose the famous St. John's ReefsThe area is not known for being a "long-distance corner".

I am therefore very enthusiastic, but also very vigilant: I know the very (very) curious nature of these sharks, and their propensity, especially here in the Red Sea, to come and inspect the webbed human beings very closely.

But I don't know yet, as all these thoughts run through my mind in front of this lone shark, how right I am seeing... 👌

Funny wink

Anyway. So I keep an eye on the shark and decide not to turn on my flashes, which I have just switched off during our ascent (the sharks are, it seems, very sensitive to the electrical impulses coming from this type of batteries which launch regular recharging cycles).

I just switch from photo mode to video mode and decide to wait a few minutes at a depth of 3-5 meters to observe the comings and goings of this unexpected shark, hoping to capture a few images of it.

More to read → Photo Equipment and Dive Gear

As for the longiman, it continues to patrol quietly, until the moment when (finally!) it decides to come to meet me. Yes ! this time, no doubt, he is really approaching, the sideways movement of his caudal propels him right on me... 

There, no doubt, it's me he comes to see! (Red Sea, Egypt, November 2017)
There, no doubt, it's me he comes to see! (Red Sea, Egypt, November 2017)

It's a moment of grace. Ma-gni-fi-que!!! 😍

I remain well in front of him, the dome of my camera stretched at arm's length. I don't move, I don't let too many bubbles fly so as not to scare him. I don't take my eyes off him over the top of my tank and I wait for the moment when the shark is going to turn around and go back the other way (as I have seen his fellow sharks do in the past).

But it does not leave. Not immediately. 😱

During a few seconds (which seem to me very long), the longimane remains the eye and the "muzzle" stuck to my dome. Fascinated by its own reflection? Hypnotized by the mineral shine of the glass? Attracted by the electrical impulse of the camera in video mode?

He ends up coming straight to the contact! This triggers the reflex movement of a special eyelid, which comes to protect its eye. Never before, other than in documentaries, had I observed this eyelid or nictitating" membrane in action. Well, that's it, it's done.

Screenshots taken from the video. The eyelid is distinctly closed. (Red Sea, Egypt, November 2017)
Screenshots from the video. The eyelid can be clearly seen closing. (Red Sea, Egypt, November 2017)

I discovered and learned, by doing some research, that this protective membrane of the eye is common to some 270 species of sharks belonging to the order of Carcharhiniformes (the kind of word not easy to recast in a conversation).

In any case, this brief contact with the dome of my chamber was enough for him, he immediately gave me the slip. After his departure, I don't insist and quickly get back on the Zodiac. But I still can't believe the funny wink the longiman shark gave me!


More to read → All my dives with sharks

I add below the educational sheet, designed by Steven Surina de Shark EducationThis is the first time that I have seen a video on the right attitude to adopt in the water, when you are in the presence of a shark. Note that I did not succeed in maintaining a distance, except by interposing my camera between the animal and me...

(Source: Steven Surina / Shark Education)
(Source: Steven Surina / Shark Education)

  Egypt : Red Sea - November 2017