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Friday, November 19, 2010

Spotlight: Sharks

We've all thought about swimming with sharks...and in Belize, we actually got to try it. There are two species of shark that can be spotted in Belize. Tiger sharks should be avoided as they are known to be aggressive. We have not seen one (and I always tell my students: if you see a tiger shark, swim away!). But we have seen several nurse sharks.

Nurse sharks are easily recognized by the two dorsal fins along the back and the two catfish-like barbells on the upper lip:

We spotted several nurse sharks during our Jan 2010 trip. We would always find them along the sandy bottom, tucked into a rocky crevice, or hiding under a rocky overhang. These sharks were very mellow, enabling students to swim right up to them, which makes for a great photo, don't you think?

At Turtle Rock Island, Jim and I were snorkeling alone when he spotted a nurse shark hiding out under a rocky overhang. In true Mutual of Omaha fashion, I suggested he go try to touch it while I stay safely behind and shoot video. As he approached, the shark got spooked and swam away, making for some great video:

I hope we have similar good luck spotting and interacting with nurse sharks during our Jan 2011 trip. Stay tuned to the blog to find out!

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