In early 2010, the harmonica wielding Neil Burnie strolled into our office and, quite randomly, started playing for me in between waxing lyrical about a Tiger Shark project he was pioneering back home in Bermuda.
Little did I know that 2 short years later I would find myself 15 miles offshore the island of Bermuda, on Neil’s boat, to experience this incredible Shark Project for myself. The experience was interesting, to say the least, and in the words of Neil, way more than we bargained for.
Leaving Hamilton, Bermuda to head out to the Challenger Banks, 15 miles offshore. Neil had setup a mooring the night prior only to discover that a large Tiger Shark had caught itself up in the wires connecting the buoy to the anchor.
A variety of ‘release options’ were discussed, however we settled on the idea of ‘roping’ the Tiger Shark around its belly to let Neil dive in the water and cut it free. Once Neil dived into the water, we had to be sure that we released the shark on our end as soon as he’d cut the tangled wire around its tail.
The Tiger Shark is without a doubt one of the most elegant and beautiful creatures I have ever seen. Sadly, along with many other species of Shark, their populations are being steadily decimated because of excessive fishing.
Once the Tiger Shark was free, Neil briefed us on how to behave in the water with the sharks. Hanging a chain over the back of the boat, we pulled ourselves down it to escape the wash of the boat and clear up our field of view. It was not my intention to ever get in the water with the Tiger Sharks, however when in Rome…
Neil was one of the first individuals to swim with and later ride a Tiger Shark. This image, taken from his website, is of a Tiger Shark similar in size to the one we experienced.
Photographs by: Rob Breen. Filmed by: Neil Burnie, Rob Breen and Rich Laburn
Sharks are amazing creatures. Good on you for helping them!