I say goodbye to my husband of 25 years as he dons his wetsuit and prepares to dive into the ocean to feed sharks. He applies a dab of sun cream to his nose “Mayonnaise for sharks,” I think.
The setting for the experience is Stuart Cove’s in Nassau, the Bahamian capital. Just down the coast is the worryingly named Jaws Beach.Stuart Cove, it turns out, is a person, not a place, and his claim to fame (apart from sending humans to the sharks on a daily basis) is that he taught Sean Connery to dive. Ladies’ pulses went racing during the opening sequence of Goldfinger where 007 appears wearing a fake duck on his head and unzips his wet suit to reveal perfectly styled hair and a white tuxedo, but I find myself dwelling on Sir Sean’s heart-stopping confrontation with Larco’s killer sharks in Thunderball
The sharks waiting for lunch at Stuart Cove today are not the killer variety but Caribbean Reef Sharks (although Bahamian waters lie in The Atlantic Ocean) Kate, the jolly guide, gives a short talk to the divers, describing the display sharks make in anticipation of their meal. “Sharks are excited by the sight of blood,” she tells us, and demonstrates how she will be waving some bloody fish around to get them to perform For her meeting with these Draculas of the deep she is wearing a strange outfit of chain mail over her wetsuit to protect herself. Looking like some underwater Sir Lancelot she instructs the divers that they must group in a circle on the ocean floor with their heads bowed, as if taking part in some pagan ritual. They must keep their arms by the side all the time and, she stresses (unnecessarily, I feel) “Don’t chase the sharks”
The female sharks are strapping girls, weighing in at 400-500 pounds and 8 to 10 feet long.
The males, she adds, are about 6 foot and have two penises
Husband surfaces some time later in one piece, but looking slightly inadequate after an afternoon spent with the well-endowed boy sharks.
He describes some 40 or so sharks swooping around him, brushing against his arm and leering at him with their macabre bared-teeth grin. At the bottom of the sea was a rusting abandoned cage, the owner of which one hopes has lived to dive another day
We hail a taxi to drive us back to downtown Nassau. The driver enquiries how we have spent our afternoon and the steering wheel shudders when we tell him. “Shark and DIVE” he enunciates slowly. “Thems two words I don’t care to hear in the same sentence”
I originally wrote this piece for REAL TRAVEL magazine