Cue the whale #shark: when weakness pays off

Amazing. This curious, probably adolescent whale shark, hung around for most of the dive.

Amazing. This curious, probably adolescent, whale shark hung around for most of the dive. (copyright – photos courtesy of dive buddy)

I hadn’t planned to scuba dive on my recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Was going to be a short trip done with only a carry-on bag. No scuba gear. No checked luggage.

Because I’m weak, I packed my scuba mask and computer just in case I broke down and booked a dive. The breakdown occurred almost as soon as I got there. I booked a one day, two tank dive at El Morro, one of the best dive sites in Banderas Bay, I was told.

So, on the day, me, the 20-something divemaster Charly, a young guy – new diver from Calgary and a guy my age from Oregon got on the boat.

On route, Charly and the Calgary guy talked about diving in a cave. I’m old and cranky and not keen on dive plans hatched by young men, especially new divers with more courage than experience and brains. I don’t allow myself to be put in dangerous situations. My only ever dicey dive was led by a young male divemaster and his young male divemaster trainee. They took me too deep, too fast and we ascended too quickly. Never again.

At El Morro, I was diving a new site in unfamiliar rental gear. There was a strong surge in the water. But, I agreed to take a look at this cave.

Once inside, I decided this cave (a tunnel, actually) was a no-go. It was wide at the opening but became too dark, too long, too narrow. Not worth risking my life. (I’m not cave diving certified). I signalled to my Oregon buddy I wanted to leave. He followed. The young guys re-appeared shortly after. They’d turned around after seeing we’d turned back, which was exactly the right thing to do.

My decision to end their adventure was richly rewarded when a 12-foot whale shark appeared. The rarest of sightings in these waters, apparently.

Thanks for showing up, whale shark.

Thanks for showing up, whale shark.

It hung around us for the remainder of the dive. Gentle and curious yet getting awfully close at times. We were in no danger.

I gladly accepted the ‘credit’ for the find, having pulled us out of the cave at just the right time. A memorable diving experience for all. Charly couldn’t wait to tell his divemaster buddies. I saw him the next day and he was still giddy.

Why do I scuba dive? For days like this. Sometimes, weakness is rewarding.

The dive site, El Morro

The dive site, El Morro

A very happy me. Smiling.

I’m happy.

Charly tells his friends about our wonderful whale shark dive.

Charly tells his friends about our wonderful whale shark dive.

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