Bucket List Adventures
I am twenty-two with a bucket list. You are probably thinking “Well, everyone has things they want to do in their life.” Yes, that is true, but it was not until after the COVID-19 pandemic I made a physical check list.
Before the pandemic, I was always a bit of a ‘worry wart.’ Following the pandemic, my anxiety grew to a new level. I am not scared of dying, so I am not exactly sure what causes the anxiety. Again, I am not scared of dying, but for some reason I love the feeling of looking death in the face and defeating it.
I live a typical life of going to school full-time and working part-time. I have a dog, a great circle of people and a lot of joy in my life. Let me tell you though, there is nothing like feeling that thrill of crossing an experience off my list.
So far, I have been skydiving, parasailing, took a spontaneous trip to Florida, crowd surfed, seen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hiked one of the highest elevation trails in the Glacier National Park, shot a gun and wrote two books. Best of all and most recently, I went free diving with sharks in Jupiter, Florida.
If I had to rank my adventures, skydiving and shark diving remains at the top of the list. For some reason, I was the calmest I have ever been when I jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet. I thought to myself, ‘If something bad is going to happen, there is no stopping it now.’
With shark diving, I felt a different kind of thrill. I had to force myself to be calm surrounded by Tiger Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, Reef Sharks, a Silky Shark and a Bull Shark. There was no room for error or anxiety during this trip.
I started in Kissimmee, FL, and made my way to Jupiter, FL. A two-hour drive for an experience I will never forget. When I first arrived, the crew of Florida Shark Diving explained the procedure in depth. After that, we were off to the water.
Once the boat started going, it seemed as if time was passing by so slow. I was ready to get in the water! After a thirty-minute boat ride, we finally made it to our stopping point. The crew explained safety protocol once more, we geared up and jumped in.
Prior to the dive, I assumed this would be a trip with cages, but I was wrong. Myself and three other people held on to a rope while staying parallel to the ocean floor. The crew began tossing chum into the water to attract sharks.
Before I knew it, I was surrounded by seven beautiful creatures. In addition to the sharks, I saw two jellyfish, dolphins and flying fish. This made for an unforgettable experience. While being in the water with predators, all I could think about was being the sharks’ next meal.
The highlight of this unforgettable adventure was seeing seven sharks beneath me, feeding on chum. At one point during the trip, I lifted my head for some air and to clear my snorkeling tube of water. When I settled and put my head back underwater, I counted only six sharks under me.
The panic began to set in, but I could not reveal that, so I remained calm while looking around. I looked to my left – nothing; behind me – nothing; directly to my right – a bull shark was three feet away from me, looking me in the eyes. In that moment, I froze and floated. It seemed like minutes had passed looking at this beautiful creature, it was only seconds.
Eventually, the bull shark’s attention was redirected elsewhere. Although it was scary as hell, I would not trade that experience for anything.
I still have thrills that I am looking for. I am eager to find one to top the unforgettable experience of shark diving. Who knows, maybe paragliding next?
By: Claire Dingwall
11 August, 2021