Bucket List Focus: Swimming with Sharks

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There are some items on my bucket list that I’m less eager to check off than others.

Kiss a girl from every country? Sounds like fun!

Go on a food crawl in Portland? Sign me up!

Go swimming with sharks? … do I have to?

It’s not that I’m adverse to the idea (else it wouldn’t be on the list to begin with), it’s just that it’s on there in the same way that I want to learn how to play Stairway to Heaven on the guitar is.

I love the idea of having done it, but the actual doing of it daunts me.

Swimming with Sharks in Dubai Mall

I’d just arrived on location in Dubai when it was suggested that we head to the Dubai Aquarium to go swimming with sharks.

While I’d known the activity was likely to be on the list, I’d shown up to Yahoo’s 48th floor office in general attire. I certainly hadn’t anticipated being thrust into the shark tank right off the bat.

Still, Australian pride was on the line. I’d joked about how Aussies ride sharks to school and wrestle crocodiles in PE; I could hardly balk at the idea of having a wee swim with some harmless tiger sand sharks, could I?

My boasting only worsened my situation as we drove to the Dubai Mall. I foolishly mentioned I already had my PADI Scuba Certification (I was lucky enough to learn to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef back in 2010) and in doing so talked my way from snorkeling with sharks from the safety of a cage to going right into the aquarium with them.

When will you learn to shut your mouth, Chris!? 

One brief safety demonstration and refresher course later, I was thrust into the spotlight.

Cameras were rolling, my heart was pumping, and the sharks were waiting.

Pre-dive nerves aside, this was such an exhilerating experience. Even knowing that tiger sand sharks weren’t likely to take a bite out of me, it’s still a surreal moment having an open-mouthed shark swim towards you.

Your baser instincts are screaming at you to flee, but there’s really no need. It’s all done in such a professional, relaxing manner that you feel completely safe.

For those who don’t dive (or who don’t want to get up close and personal with a shark), the option is also there to simply snorkel in the aquarium from the safety of a cage.

Would I do it again? Sure.

Will I tackle it in the open ocean someday?

I’ll get back to you.

Your Say

Would you ever swim with sharks?

My shark diving experience was funded by Hidden Dubai, a campaign jointly arranged by Emirates, Yahoo, and Dubai Tourism to highlight adventure travel activities within the city. All opinions are my own.

Featured image by Reedz Malik.

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