Background for Nassau Article - Log Books

Photos of Stephen Weir by Janine, Halifax underwater shark wrangler and photographer at Stuart Cove, Nassau






Dive #1
Wreck of the port royal and bacardii reef
Stuart cove
Depth 109 ft
Buddy – some guy from texas
In; 3,100 LBS 32% NITROX OUT 100 lbs
Stops 4 minutes computer on setting for air and it NEVER went into decompression

Worst dive since the time maria got lost in the dam in peterborough. Lost my camera, flooded. O-rings. I was stressed. Checked out a wreck. Govt gun ship, now an artificial reef. Covered in small fish. Quite a colony of groupers there. Lion fish abound. Stuart Cover says he has a licence to trap the lionfish but he says he has lost the battle. Got the resident photographer to take a picture of me inside the wreck with a lion fish.
Lost my buddy. Instructor from texas. He was wearing earphones and listening to music. Found him as he was going over to the wall. It started at 100 feet. \he said let’s take a look but since \i only had 1,000 lbs by this pt, \i couldn’t stay. Next thing \i knew we were at 109 ft. . Just hung in the water staring at the computer. Sunk in \i had a minute before getting in to deco. Went up as fast as \I could without fgetting warning. Worried about oxygen problems with nitrox. But I was aware enough not to go too fast. My buddy actually went down farther. 140. He acknowledge my wave. I went to 15 feet and hung till my tank was almost dry watching him break all the rules.
Full suit. 86 degrees. 14 lbs. calm. Viz 60 ft.
Bottom time 45 minutes
Dive #2
Mini wall
Same buddy
3,100 lbs nitrox 32 %
Out – 1,000 lbs
Bottom time 50 minutes
Viz 60 feet
Nice mini wall dive. 24 in the water. Most following the guide. Took us to a very small lobster and then took my buddiu and others down to a sponge a 75FT where there was a small crab! Underwhelming. I stopped at 59 ft and watched everyone go down to see the crab. Could tell that the divers let him know that he should only tell them about bigger stuff. \He didn’t bang his tank when a 6ft reef shark came by. |My buddy and I found each other off from the rest of the group and this large shark circled us and then kept circling us at the edge of visiion. Reef in great shape. Called pumpkin reef because of the orange sponges. We kept looking at the reef while the shark lurked. We got bored, came back to main ground just as a 3 ft shark swam between us.
a-1 dive site. Coral colourful for the bahamas. Orange and green and umber. Lots of blood red sponges too.
Stuart cove will give us photos. I am relieved.
Maximum depth 59ft

Dive #3
Shark and Wreck
3,100 lbds
Post lunch dive
Same buddy



Story Idea – Ladies of Steel

Trio came from around the world. Halifax (my mother always writes and says Why Can’t You Feed Whales like your sister. 24 year old from Australia and a videographer from Germany. All under 30, all quite willing to wrestle with potentially deadly sharks, most bigger than them, two or three times a week …. And for no extra money.

Dive #3 – 60-80 feet
Shark orientation dive
3,200 lbs of nitrox at 32%
Wearing bathing suit and t-shirt and 6lbs of lead
Calm. Water 86 degrees F
Bottom time 50 minutes 3 min deco out with 1,000 lbs
Maximum depth 60ft

Probably one of the nicest dives I have done. We got in the water and swam over to a set of wrecks. No coral grown there yet. Stuart put them down, just like he has done on over 20 other wrecks. He gets them from the govt. cleans them up and sinks them.
These wrecks were covered in fish. Yellow tails. Schools of small silver fish engulfed the wreck, and the divers. Moved leisurely around the bottom like a cloud. A living cloud
The publisher of Sport Diver was lying on the bottom with Janine the videographer photographing a huge sting ray. Probably 9 ft from head to end of the whip tail. Body size about 4 ft across wasn’t going to move no matter how many times the strobe fired in his eyes.
I stayed out of the pictured and checked out the remains of an old frieghter. As I drifted down towards It huge, ugly gnarley turtle swam into the wreck area. Seeing me it turn 90 degrees and started swimming away. But, another diver there, so it turned a second 90 degrees and headed out towards the drop off. Will check the charts to see what species it was.
As our air ran low we swam back towards the boat over a rolling coral bed. Came to a flat bit of sand – the arena. Janine says that it is like the Colisuem of old, and she is one of the gladiators.
There are enough stones and blocks for 24 divers. Most of the stones are grouped in twos to allow for pairs. This is where the sharks will feed on our second dive of the afternoon (O#4)
Even though we don’t have food there are still big sharks in the water. 8ft was about the biggest | saw. They weren’t aggressive but swam in lazy circles around the arena.
We were being shown where the next dive was going to be, but I think that the crew wanted to check us out to see how we would react to the big fish. No one bolted for the wsurface. Everyone did their 3 minutes on the line while shaqrks were circling under our flippers.

Dive #4

Have to really look at the briefing as part of the dive. Three women. The aussie did most of the talking. Good natured but warned men to keep their legs close together or the sharks will try to swim between your legs. “Their dorsal fin is very hard, like steel, if it swims through your legs, well men, you do have a package under there, and that dorsal fin hurts. (We girls don’t have to worry, she said with a wicked grin, we just ride it out!. Anyway men, if you get hit, you will fall over, just lie in the sand and we girls will come over and set you right.
Warned us not to extend the camera from our body to take a picture. They will go for our hands and they might take it with them. No camera? Just tuck hands under armpits. No holding camera out to take self portraits.
Stay in the circle. Don’t bolt for the surface.. Okay if the shark touches you (and it will) but not touching the sharks. You will get slapped in the face by a fin. You won’t get bit.
But in saying that the girls struggled into armlets made of steel. Like the suits that knights of the round table used to wear. They had protecton. Aussie didn’t have a sword. Just a long fork, not unlike a bbq cooking utensil.
Nova Scotia Janine talked about taking photos. Bait, fish heads and stuff, inside a baitbox. Almost like a two level strong box. Colourful, like the rental suits and everything else, had stuart cove logo.on it. \
Aussie would bring the box close to each diver to allow cdn janine to photograph each diver with a halo of sharks. Janine’s massive, expenswive underwter digital camera has a fish eye (or should it be shark’s eye) lens with a clear glass portal. Our dive masks enhance everything by 20%, this lens does even more than this. These sharks are big, and the camera makes the tourist shots they sell at the end of the dive even more imposing.
German Janine will work another part of the circle with her video camera. After the still photographer has left, Aussie girl feeds near each diver. Before the sharks were slow moving as they swam near the divers, the opening of the box sends them into a frenzy. They circle the box and aussie girl in increasingly tight circles and incre3asing high speed. Absolutely terrifying to see a shark switch gears from lazy to attack. |And yes, the lictating lens does cover their eyes.
They do bang into the divers, they do try to swim under arms and they do scratch their bellies over peoples head.
Aussie girl had warned the men in the group – mostly men – who had bristle brush cuts (most were brush cut, shaved or just simply focilly challenged, this is a$150 experience plus video, plus stills, plus t-shirts, plus food (to replace what you might have shit out under water, so it attracts older crowd. 60 something have a lot less to lose I guess). Anyway bristle head divers she warned are favoured by the female sharks who want to use their heads to scratch their bellies. Sharks don’t have hands you know, so, they can’t scratch.

Tur ns out just aussie humour. Sharks too busy competiting for a bite of fish heads, to notice who had hair and who didn’t.
Aussie girl did scratch bellies for some of the big female sharks. She used her chain mail hand to scratch snots of the Bahamian reef shark matrons. Memorized them. They stop swimming. She says they go under, into a trance. She is a tall woman but says she doesn’t have the strength to flip them over. They will go limp and allow you to flip them on their backs and rub the bellies. Janine says the young ones are too skittish to allow the handlers to put them under.

Aussie girl has to fight them off. She is gentle. No need though. The sharks are battled scarred. Some have gashes in their back and flippers, mating wounds. Another has 2 ft plastic line attached to a fish hook buried in its iron tough hide. Another has junks of flesh missing where a motor prop hit it. |there is also a shark with a broken jaw. Not recent. 6 years has been feeding. Cqa n’t miss its lopside grin as it swims by.
/
“why are doing this?” asked a 60 something dive travel agent white haired granny. Janine shrugs, no answer. But, even after a 20 minute briefing on the 50 ways you can leave your hand, or your foot or the family jewells at the bottom of the warm Caribbean sea, everyone got in the water.
“ Theatre, of coures there is. We plays thinkgs up. The main thing is to deliver entertainment. People learn more about the animal, they appreciate the experience, they loose their fear, we hope of sharks, but, it is entertainment. And they sure treasure my photos and our videos!”

Janine Boyetche, from Halifax. Worked twice at Stuart Cove, quit to work Easy Dive??? in Port Hawkesbury. Left NS wnen the cold water hit. She worked in Dundee Australia
The staff haul tanks. No extra money for working with sharks. Women and Men work equal. No rules that say only men feed and handle shark. But Janine and Janine and Michelle make up the only female shark handling team in the world.

“ I think we three take a bit of the macho out of the experience (compared to male divers), well, (thinking back to Michelle’s talk about loosing one’s balls) we take a little Macho out of it.”

“There is a pecking order. Big females came in first. There are a few that 8 to 10 feet long. Probably 30 to 40 resident sharks who take part in the feeds (not all at the same time”
Some 30 might feed at any one time but only a dozen might actually get a bite of the food. And then “ it is a small amount (compared to how much they need to eat in a day) like dessert.”
“The more aggetated they get the less they get,” she said. “ It is strange what effects their level of aggitation. Low pressure on the surface and they seem to be nervous underwater.”

The three women don’t have shark bites to show for their work, but, they do get bumped and scrapped by the course skin of a shark suit. Michelle’s chain mail is ripped where sharks have got their teeth caught in the mesh and they have thrashed until eitheir the chain mail or teeth have snapped. The sand in the arena has bits of teeth that can be recovered and taken home as souvenirs.
While Janine was videotaping me a small shark came in fast, flicked his snout down to her feet, shook his head and swam off. Janine grabbed her foot as he sped off into the blue. The shark had bite her flipper. Missed the foot but left a gash in her flipper … seconds later she showed me the rent!
“ that is not the first time,” she told me, back on Cenote, the 58ft long dive boat (check name and length) “Always the same foot and the same flipper. Don ‘t know why – is the colour or the straps or what that attracts them to that flipper”
Suit made by Neptune Suit info@neptune.com. Who knew there were enough shark handlers out there to warrant have a suit manufacturer. Put on in segments. Like nylons and glves.

All three women have tatoos. All are blond. All are fearless
Michelle
Just fell into the job. Came here 4 years ago. Started feeding them 3 years ago. Usually twice a week.
“Little ones won’t go into a trance. Now the 8 to 10 footers, all females are the easiest to get down. I get them down but once I try to lft them they come out of it and (sluggishly) swim away. Small onces are more my size but they are to skittsh to toucch.”

Names for the big sharks. Males are smaller. It is the females that they recognize. They have markeings that “we get to recognize” The shark with the borken jawa has been here for 6 years. Was pregnant earlier this summer. Was really fat for awhile and then was thin again!

Bimini
#1 group dive
No dive suit, 3,000 lb, no nitrox, 6lbs of lead
Depth 60ft
Name of site – check boo
85 degrees, 4 ft swells – hurricane
small sharks. Fish, eel

#2 Landing Strip
60 ft 55 minutes
small patch

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