“Sure, whatever you say.”
And with that, I jump into the cage. As the weight belt drags me to the bottom, the modern-day world melts away and nature takes over. Down here, things are different. I’m merely a silent observer, intruding into a world that is not my own. The only sounds are my labored breathing and my heartbeat. As I look through the bars at the open ocean in front of me, I feel like Hooper from Jaws. I just know once I get adjusted, I’m going to look in front of me and see the mother of all sharks intent on ruining my day. Thankfully, this is not the case. More often than not, I scare myself with my own bubbles. Michelle, my cage partner, keeps having to surface due to problems with her weight belt, so for the most part, I feel very alone. I spot a few jellyfish hanging under the boat like shadows. One of the crew members mentioned they might be attracted to the gentle hum of the engine. To my left, I can see the seal-shaped decoy floating behind the boat. White sharks race up from the depths to attack their prey, so if one should decide to hit the decoy, I will have the perfect view. Michelle gives me a thumbs-up, as her gear is finally cooperating. My hands begin to ache a bit from the death grip I have on the bars. The current knocks the cage around, and as we bang into the platform, both Michelle and I are startled by the noise, almost positive the snout of a great white has just rammed into us. Again, this is not the case. Instead, the sharks seem to be playing with us. We know they are everywhere, but as pair after pair of divers embarks down into the cage, a sighting is becoming less and less likely.
As the day wears on, we busy ourselves with conversation, food, and the view surrounding us. A whale is spotted in the distance, and the sky is awash with seabirds flying overhead, including endangered populations of gulls, puffins, and ashy storm petrels. Pod after pod of seals jumps in the waves and toys with us, and we can’t help but find ourselves rooting for their demise: Come on, sharks, just grab one! Something! Anything! On my second descent into the cage, I am almost willing it to happen, which means, sadly, that it doesn’t.
As we pull up the cage and head for shore, I can’t help but be a bit disappointed. However, when dealing with nature, sometimes it just isn’t in the cards. So while we didn’t have an encounter with the most feared creature in the ocean, we did conquer the Farallones, a place of mystery and intrigue not for the faint of heart. And there’s always next time, because I’ll definitely be back for round two -- stay tuned.