By Shanyn Poirier
we are finally advanced divers, and on our way to Hornby Island to dive with Sharks. Are we crazy you may ask and there is no doubt you have to be a little
crazy to put on several layers jump into a body of water that can be as cold as 41 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to a blistering 68 degrees in the summer.
We arrive on the island of Hornby, and make our way to Hornby Island Diving an all-inclusive
resort located on Hornby Island here in British Columbia Canada. For lovers of the sea and sport of diving this is not really a great distance to travel.
Diving with the Sixgill sharks is the draw for us this time, and with some luck, we will have a close encounter with one mystery of the ocean. We are greeted by
the hosts Rob and Amanda while several other divers chat at one of the other tables. They will soon become our diving mates and friends as we have all come for
the same thing: the Sixgill Shark.
Our first dive is scheduled to begin at 9:00 AM the next morning; we are given a tour, and shown to our room. We awaken to the smells of bacon, and fresh bread the next morning, and join the others in the kitchen. After breakfast, we load up our gear, and head to the boat. The first dive takes us to Eagle Rock; we are told it is a nice easy dive, and a great way to start our experience. We are told the afternoon dive will take us to Flora Islet where we will begin our search for the Sixgill.
The second dive begins with our hosts, Rob and Amanda, telling us the sharks are comfortable in the presence of divers, as long as they are given some space. They swim slowly, close to the bottom, along ledges of the wall and do not like to be touched or to be surrounded by divers. If they feel uncomfortable, their response is to increase their swim speed and head into deeper water.
Wearing our dry suits with a tank strapped to our back we step in to the Pacific Ocean at Flora Islet off the Coast of Hornby Island. We descend to a depth of 54 feet, and follow the wall down into the darkness. Moving slowly through the water I am looking at every thing I can see. My attention caught by a Lingcod so large that it surely must be a shark when out of the darkness, my husband signals for me. I swim frantically to him and together we are on a chase going ever shallower after who knows what. Sadly, it was not meant to be for me, he says he saw the shark but I missed it because I was looking at a lingcod, and a painted greenling in a chimney sponge. We ascend to the surface, and climb aboard the boat. I know there will be another chance to meet the great Sixgill Shark during the morning dive the next day.
At 9:00 AM the next morning, we climb aboard the boat, and once again don our dry suits. Taking a giant stride off the dive boat, we know we are among a privileged group of humans simply by visiting the world of the shark. We descend into the abyss, swimming slowly into the darkness all the while aware the Sixgill’s are somewhere down here watching us.
Swimming just ahead of me is my husband. I notice him stop, turning slowly to his right he settles himself on the wall and reaches for the camera. I wonder what… then slowly turning as I hang in mid-water my flashlight falls upon a sixgill shark. I held my breath, as this giant of the sea seemed to hover in the water stopping five feet in front of us. He was ten to twelve feet long, and the most beautiful creature I had ever encountered. I could hear my husband breathing deeper and faster as he madly snapped pictures all the while a big black eye staring straight at him, and the shark almost smiling as though he was sizing my husband up for a meal. I on the other hand forgot I was 77 feet below the surface and smiled… flooding my mouth knowing I would have to blow out before I could take a breath.
We are told that no attacks on humans have been attributed to sixgills this is a comforting thought until you encounter one of these giants of the ocean. They say we need not fear them, but must respect them they are large, they are sharks and as divers we have a rare and unique opportunity to observe them in the wild.
Our last dive of the weekend takes us to a place called Dinner Plate so named for the dinner plates, yes the I do mean the ones we eat off, found here in years gone by. This is a shallow dive; easy, slow paced we drift with the current looking in crevasses, and under rocks. As we are searching the bottom for a Skate, we find a Flounder. Startled it darts from the sand and disappears into the darkness.
Then we spot it getting closer we move quietly and quickly… it is white just like others we have encountered in both salt water, and fresh. Could it truly be, yes, it is the elusive golf ball fish, my husband and I capture three of them before ascending to the world of humans once again. We climb aboard the boat and find our diving mates have also succeeded in capturing the golf ball fish. When the last diver climbs aboard, we are thrilled to see he has brought with him a beer bottle fish.
Sadly, our time with the Sixgill Sharks, and Hornby Island Divers ended. We enjoyed our time with Hornby Island Diving, and our hosts Rob and Amanda. We made several new friends, and are planning on a return visit to this wonderful resort in January to swim with the Stellar Sea Lions.
Join us for a wonderful vacation with Rob and Amanda at Hornby Island Diving. Where strangers become friends and diving is the only order of the day.
HORNBY ISLAND DIVING
47567 Chartwell Drive
Chilliwack BC V2P 8B1
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