Sven-Olof Lindblad is in the South Pacific right now leading a reconnaissance trip to seek out never-before-offered experiences and ultimate snorkel and dive sites for guests on our five new 2018 South Pacific & French Polynesia expeditions. Explore this site, Fakarava, on our upcoming expedition Easter Island to Tahiti: Tales of the Pacific

Photo Vincent Truchet

There are more sharks than people in Fakarava. There are so many of them—black tips, silver tips, grey reefs, corals—they can blur the line between animal and architecture. The second day of Lindblad Expeditions’ research mission to French Polynesia began with an incredible dive outside the atoll’s southern pass. There were enough sharks stacked on top of each other between the lagoon and the ocean, they looked almost like a wall.

Countless other species call the pass home. Eagle rays fly against the current. Groupers sometimes school there. Barracuda and tuna shine in the light streaming through the turquoise water. A Napoleon wrasse, nearly a meter long, nosed in and out of the pristine coral.

Photo Vincent Truchet

But the sharks are the main attraction. The strange thing about diving with sharks—once you stop shouting “That’s a shark!” every time you see one—is how unmistakable they are. Even from a distance, even if all you catch of one is its silhouette out of the corner of your eye, the way they look, the way they don’t move through the water so much as they own it: That’s a shark.

Photo Vincent Truchet

And when there are so many of them, the experience is close to overwhelming. Because sharks have suffered for years from their outsized reputation for aggression, fear, at least a little of it, might crackle through the water. It takes only a few minutes for that fear to subside and turn into wonder. You realize that you might be looking at hundreds of sharks at once, but none of them is looking at you. You’re just one more fish in the sea, swimming between corals into the calm of the lagoon. You just happen to be swimming there together.

Chris Jones

Categories: South Pacific