- they used to be my favorite sharks before I met, and fell in love with, tiger sharks. Not difficult to understand: The tigers’ distinctiveness, their size, their character, and, yes, their incredible gentleness being their hall mark, starkly contrasting with their bad "press" they still get, makes them probably the most impressive and captivating of all sharks.
During the last trips to Tiger Beach we dived a fantastic near-by spot baptized "Fish Tales" by Capt. Scott Smith.
Scott discovered the place as an alternative to Tiger Beach proper - where you will regularly find 30 to 40 of swirling Caribbean reef sharks, some tiger sharks, nurse sharks, and, if lucky, the elusive great hammerhead shark with its huge dorsal fin.
Clean, crisp, minimalistic - Caribbean reef shark at Fish TalesPhoto: Wolfgang Leander, 2011Click to enlarge
Caribbean reef sharks - the quintessential sharks.Photo: Wolfgang Leander Green Turtle Cay, 2005Click to enlarge
When I re-discovered the Caribbean reef sharks, I felt like seeing old friends again. Reef sharks were my constant and only companions when I dived the Abacos (Bahamas), mostly on my own, without buddies.
An old friendship re-discovered...Photo: Michel Lonfat, "Fish Tales" 2011Click to enlarge
Caribbean reefies were the shark species - not self-styled shark ’experts’: statisticians, Swiss or non-Swiss scientists, ego-driven pseudo conservationist magazine editors or slightly (?) megalomaniac wild animal photographers, and some smart shark dive operators - that taught me that they, and sharks in general, are highly intelligent creatures, and perfectly developed to prevail in their environment.
I have experienced Caribbean reef sharks in almost all types of "moods" and behavioral patterns, also charging prey (wounded fish) with lightning speed, and, boys, lemme tell ya, they were not much slower than mako sharks, the fastest of them all.
Compared to tiger sharks the Caribbean reef sharks seem to be underrated. They shouldn’t. Quite the contrary: They, and in my opinion also the Galapagos sharks, are probably the most beautiful members of the large shark family, worthy of our admiration and - why not say it? - our reverence.