National Geographic : 1952 Oct
A Reflector Goes Down to L Deep Water's Dusky Studi Knob at casing's center permits the pi to set controls for the firing of a single fl a multiple detonation. In short, when at last we had reg Aqualungs and were prepared to them in the deep waters off Abu had become saddled with somethi inferiority complex. Dumas, Ertaud, and I were the f Skimming through the shallows, we al the reef wall and its "balcony" ov the blue abyss. Dead ahead we sa sharks, one of them 10 feet long. Cautiously we descended, keeping to the cliff and holding in front camera and special reflectors (pages and 472). Deeper and deeper we yet more awesome became the sharl go-round as they approached, fixe their stern eyes, went away, returne Are Sharks Cowards? From 160 feet down we looked ul their long, dark profiles silhouette the shining surface. Below us we other sharks wandering over a shoa Seeing my companions swimming ai wild beasts, naked, and far from the safety of the upper world, I could only conclude that we were mad. Yet already we were getting used to their whirling attendance. Dumas, in fact, soon lost himself in inspection of the sea wall while a big shark, 13 feet long, swam slowly toward his legs. I could not restrain myself; the sight of that man calmly examining a small opening in the cliff, while an enormous Carcharinus sniffed at his ankles, unnerved me. I hooted through my mouthpiece as loudly as I could. Dumas gave no sign of hearing. Finally the great shark, majestic as an ocean liner, turned and slid away. It occurred to me then, and our later ex perience seemed to confirm it, that we were actually safer at this great depth than nearer the surface. The shark which had made a pass at me the first day, I decided, had prob ably assumed I was just some helpless animal which could be eaten without a fight. Down here at this level, however, we probably looked like strange bubble-blowing fish with two tails, worth investigating but not quite safe to charge. Cowed by a Triggerfish One other thing made me think I was right. We had found that, when we exploded a car tridge under water, we had to corral our dead specimens at once or the sharks would arrive .-Y.cousteau and eat them under our eyes. Yet, alive, ight those same fishes would swim without fear io among sharks. One day, in fact, Beltran and photographer Dumas had seen a triggerfish, an inoffensive ash bulb or little four-pounder, amuse himself by rushing at a shark and chasing him away. It is one thing, of course, to become intel ained our lectually persuaded that a 10-foot shark christen means no harm, and another to convince Latt, we one's nerves. Yet familiarity did begin to ngofan breed in us a certain healthy contempt for these thugs of the deep, and we turned our irst to go. attention to other things. pproached There was much to see and much to be erhanging seen by. Giant hump-headed parrotfish, .w several powerful jacks, shoals of blue bonitos and silver sardines, all flocked to have a look at us, our backs lingered for a moment, then with a shrug of of us our their fins flitted away. Great jellyfish floated 435, 465, by, not always fast enough. One of them was went, and attacked and eaten right in front of us by a ks' merry- group of large brown-velvet fishes. d us with Some of the coral blocks we skimmed past d. looked like the skulls of dwarfs; others, of giants. Ocher and magenta tufts alternated with clumps of coral that resembled mauve p and saw petrified heather. Red organ-pipe coral (Tubi d against pora) clung to the sea wall like beehives. could see Graceful parasols of Acropora coral spread 1 of sand. their filigrees as if to shelter their tenants, long these big red-and-gold and spotted-brown fishes.