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More likely to give birth to a two-headed goat than suffer a shark attack

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One of the pleasures of Caribbean cruising is being able to jump into the warm clear water and take a relaxing, therapeutic swim. Charlie encourages all his charter boat guests to take the plunge at every opportunity.

“But what about the sharks? I saw a program on TV …” a young man may nervously enquire.

Charlie’s response is always: “You’re more likely to give birth to a two-headed goat than suffer a shark attack!

Confidence maybe slightly restored – and Charlie advises to take swimming to another level and don mask, snorkel and fins for a glimpse into ‘another world’.

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Most lifestyles don’t offer the opportunity to immerse oneself in another world, except in the movies. Snorkeling is indeed fascinating but many have a pre-conceived idea of what a great snorkeling experience should be. Charlie has often heard disappointing comments like, “There’s nothing there, where’s all the big fish?” But there is so much more than ‘big fish’.

Sailing With Charlie: Sharks

Graphics by Hannah Welch
Graphics by Hannah Welch

Charlie is prompted to reply, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”  The colors, shapes and sizes of all the corals; the staghorn, elkhorn, pillar and star corals are just a few; the soft corals like the beautiful purple sea fans and the gorgonians. There’s the disappearing Christmas tree worm, the feather duster, the sea urchin … the list goes on.

One also has to wonder at what the underwater life thinks of us – the obtrusive visitor to its world. Probably it doesn’t think about it at all. After all our existence is nothing but a calamity to that of the species of the underwater world. We drop anchors and chains on their habitat, we pollute the water, we take certain species to eat; we even throw junk food into the water for them to eat, not realizing we’re probably slowly killing them. But do they bear us a grudge? Are they hostile to our senselessness? The answer is no. Underwater life is not equipped with reason, sentiment or emotion. It instinctively hunts to eat, to preserve its life and to procreate – that’s it! No, flipper isn’t always smiling at us – that’s just the way he looks. Barry the cuda isn’t vicious, that’s just the way he looks. And whatever happens to the underwater world, it just takes it all in its stride, whether it is good, bad or ugly.

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The human race has made monumental strides in the last 150 years. We shoot ourselves into space and we talk and see each other across the world via video link. We know what’s going on in almost every corner of the world and we’re able to clone ourselves (except that it’s illegal). We have learned how to make annihilating weapons … BUT we haven’t learned how to live with each other in peace and harmony. We’re too smart for our own good.

Charlie always marvels at the tranquility of the underwater scene; nothing aggressive here. So for neophyte snorkelers and scuba divers just remember – nothing will attack you under the sea, only your own fear.

Sharks: Maligned, Abused and Endangered

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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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