Many, many years ago, I climbed into a cage off the back of a boat 50 miles off the coast of San Francisco. It was one of those paid partnership things, with Toyota I think (read it, it’s good! Someone barfed!), and it was supposed to be something about facing my fears. The plan was for me to leap into the chilly waters around the Farallon Islands — supposedly a place teeming with great white sharks — and “face my fears.”
Odd, since I’ve never had more than a passing fear of sharks (although perhaps it’s because I can’t truly wrap my head around what it would be like to be torn limb from limb and sink into the murky depths while my blood swirls around my screaming mouth), but hey, a buck’s a buck, and someone’s got to keep the lights on.
Years later, I would do another shark dive, this time in Hawaii and without the cage, and that was one of the coolest experiences of my entire life. The Farallon trip, however, was a total bust, at least shark-wise. I spent the better part of eight hours standing in the cage, peering into the green murk beyond my bubbles, hoping to see the shadow of the terrifying beast so I could properly face my fears. Instead, I saw a few passing jellyfish and a seal. It was incredibly boring. Mind-numbingly so. My mind was numbed more than my body, and let me tell you, eight hours in that water, even with a 7 mm suit on, numbed my body.
What I was hoping for was what you see in the video above. The shark these divers were lucky enough to see is a female great white named Bullet. It was during a trip at Guadalupe Island (more sharks, apparently, than the Farrallons, and much warmer water). As they say at carnivals, “keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.” For those of you worried about Bullet’s poor teeth on the metal cage, the dive operators addressed it. “Bullet is playing with the float on topside of the cage and was not harmed except for a chipped tooth,” they wrote. “Not to worry, she’s got hundreds to spare!”