Shark bait...that is one label I have tried my very best to avoid since I first stepped foot in the ocean. Driving over to the west coast, I have to admit that the idea of shark-infested water did enter my mind on more than one occasion. "The oceans alive over there" were the words I was told before I had left home. Dad tried to tell me he had never seen a shark in this part of the northwest frontier. It wasn’t the most convincing statement he has ever made but I chose to believe him anyway. It was a case of 'ignorance is bliss'. But ignorance isn’t reality and it can't last forever, no matter how hard you try. I learnt that lesson over here. I was collecting shells along the beach with my mum.
Searching the white sand while crystal water lapped at my ankles, I was shocked to find my worst nightmare dominating the shoreline a mere 400m ahead. I didn’t understand why but before I could think I found myself running straight toward the horror. Picture about thirty sharks, most of which seemed to be tiger sharks, all destroying a whale laying only a few feet from the shore. The nightmare part was the mass of sharks devouring the one victim. The horror was only growing as I scanned along the beach. Over-sized beasts lined a stretch as far as I could see. Before long I realized there were about 100 sharks in total, some as long as 4m, all in a frenzy over fresh whale flesh. I have to say that I felt pretty massive playing chicken with waves barely the height of my ankle. You only had to get knee deep and suddenly you're sharing the same square meter of Indian Ocean with a tiger shark. I chose to leave that for someone else who lacked the fear. As I watched in horror, fascination and shock I cast my thoughts back to the morning. We surfed. But we surfed about 1.5km off the beach. I do not know the name of the outer reef; perhaps it is still to be named. You see, you make the crowd here because there's not another soul in the water. Who knows why? Maybe it is too crowded in the depths beneath for most. We surfed for a couple of hours in an ocean more raw then I have experienced. The waves were good though and the winds were light by comparison to the days previous. Don't expect the surf to be super clean and gentle if you ever make you way to this part of the world. In fact, don't expect anything.
This place is unpredictable and uncontrollable and will exceed the best of your expectations. Trying to embrace this battlefield, where the desert collides with the Indian Ocean has been an experience. It's has made me leave my comfort zone back at home and has taught me the meaning of magnificent. My first sunset here and we were about 400m off shore. As I looked out at the suns farewell performance, two whales began breaching about 50m away. It was awe-inspiring beyond anything you can put words too. Maybe it was one of those whales that only a few days later became shark bait, maybe not. What I do know is that my ignorance has gone out the window and I am well aware of those beasts outside my control. I will still surf here though, because it's not about merely surviving this ocean, it’s about living and breathing everything that this crazy place has to offer. Let's just hope those sharks are full for now.