I am a marine biologist who specializes in the behavior of sharks and whales. I travel around the world to study them, and sometimes do my research in protected areas like the Galápagos Islands. These areas are abundant, full of life, thriving, and interactive. My passion for the ocean started during my freshman year in college. I found out about a woman named Ocean Ramsey, who studied sharks and swam with them daily. I used to have thalassophobia, fear of the ocean. However, as I saw videos of her diving in the depths with sharks and whales, I became more fascinated than afraid of the ocean. This made me want to explore the ocean and discover new sea creatures. I became eager and pursued my dream of becoming a marine biologist.
About 4 months ago, I was on a small yacht 90 miles off the coast of South Africa tracking a small pod of humpback whales. I put on my diving gear and cautiously swam towards the pod. As I approached the whales, I noticed that there was an infant humpback in the pod. Whales can be very protective with their young, so I kept my distance while observing them. The young whale then noticed my presence, and curiously swam towards me. Its parents stayed close by, so I remained still, not making any sudden movements. The calf swam around me a few times, and gently rubbed its head around my chest. I petted the infant as it interacted with me. Seeing that I was not a threat, the other whales allowed me to swim with them.
I swam with the whales for a half hour, and then I returned to my boat. After removing my diving gear, I documented my encounter on my computer. It was getting dark and I was getting hungry, so I made myself some dinner, and spent the night sleeping inside the boat. The next morning, I noticed a large great white shark swimming near my boat as I ate my breakfast. I quickly got in the water and swam with the shark. Movies like Jaws put a bad reputation on sharks. Sharks hardly ever attack people, and we kill millions of sharks every year. Despite her large and intimidating appearance, the shark I encountered was very docile, and mostly ignored me. I was able to hitch a ride on the shark, gently holding on to her dorsal fin. The shark wasn’t bothered by this at all, and it is common for some fish, like remora, to attach themselves sharks or swim with them. I swam back to my boat and later caught a large monkfish. I cooked the fish and had lunch.
Around 2:00 in the afternoon, I was able to track down the same pod of whales I encountered the day before. As I put on my equipment, the water started to get very dark. This was strange, because the sky was clear and sunny that day. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and I got into the water. The whales were able to recognize me, and their calf rushed towards me like an excited puppy. I swam with the whales and observed them feeding on krill. When the whales finished eating, they began to dive into the darkness beneath the waves, and I decided to follow them.
For such a clear and sunny day, I was confused of the water was so dark. I just assumed that a cloud was blocking the sun, and I continued to follow the whales. Suddenly without any warning, the whales rushed to the surface in a panic, much like a school of fish trying to escape from hungry seals and dolphins. As the calf swam above me, it took a sharp U-turn and started to push me to the surface. I had no idea what was going on, and it appeared that the whales were afraid of something, but what was it? Could it have been killer whales hiding beneath the waves? Was it a submarine? Once the whales got the surface, they huddled together and began to swim away.
I noticed my boat in the distance, roughly 50 yards away from where I was. As I swam back to my boat, the pitch-black water around me turned into a bright orange. As I looked down, my stomach dropped. I saw a massive orange eye with a black pupil staring at me. The eye’s diameter must have been at least 30 feet long. The creature then gave out an ear-piercing, low pitch howl, and then it descended into the depths. It did not sound like any known animal that has been discovered. Suddenly, a massive, black tail with an enormous, vertical tail fin burst out of the depths, and made a gigantic splash. The impact caused big surface waves, and they violently pushed me towards my boat. As I climbed onto my yacht, I noticed that the water quickly faded into a dark blue, and the sky was still clear and sunny. I immediately went straight to the South African mainland
I could not make out what the creature was. Could it have been an undiscovered whale or shark species? Was it a sea serpent? An aquatic humanoid? I documented this terrifying encounter on my computer, but I have decided to keep it a secret, because I didn’t think anyone would have believe me at the time. There was no footage the monster; I was too much in shock from the encounter to pull out my camera. Only 5% of the ocean has been found. With new creatures being discovered every year, I was curious and excited of what I might find. But now, I don’t think I am prepared to find what lies beneath the waves. I still travel around the world, swimming with sharks and whales in the open ocean. However, whenever I dive into dark, murky water, I always get the creeps.