Well, I never thought I'd be championing for one of my biggest fears- the shark. I was always afraid of water, or what is in the water with me. When I was 7 I was shown the movie "JAWS" on a big screen at my school in Quebec (for what reason I don't know), but there it was- the worst creature I could imagine, and I would avoid it at all cost.
Even swimming in lakes, I am certain they are lurking, waiting to bite my limbs off... ridiculous, but it's an irrational fear so it can take place anywhere. The other side of this is my obsession with mermaids- yeah i know it's silly, but I love them, and have considered myself an honorary mermaid since I was a child... even though I am afraid of water.
I had a super long, colourfully striped, knitted hat with a pom-pom on the end that I used to squeeze myself into to prove my affiliation. So where does this fear come from (other than JAWS)? I recall swimming at my uncle's cottage with my orange floaties, when a water snake swam by me- oh for god sakes they can swim too?? And my crazy cousin actually got his rifle and started shooting into the lake with me in it! I climbed up the small wooden ladder onto the dock, only to look down and see a snapping turtle that was so huge he stuck out both sides! I'm pretty sure this incident sealed the deal.
And now that I am going to Costa Rica to live in a tent and take diving lessons in one of the world's most shark infested waters, I took the advice of a friend and watched the movie Sharkwater. It was amazing! I realize now that all the movies and documentaries I have seen get theirs shots by throwing chum (fish guts) to attract them into a feeding frenzy where they will also attack the cameras. This makes them look insane, of course. All you see is teeth coming at you, but there is another side of them.
Sharks are generally not interested in us. But we are certainly interested in them- humans hunt sharks in the hugest numbers for their fins to feed the ever-growing popularity of shark-fin soup (the fins themselves have virtually no taste- so I am told), but it is a status thing. Watching Sharkwater has made me a little more open to what I am about to do. My dream has always been to swim with whales. I never tell anyone this (until recently) because it seemed so ridiculous- something I would never be able to do, but now I am closer.
I did go snorkelling for the first time last year in the Tobago Quays (Grenadine Islands), and the diver I was with grabbed my wrist and pulled me under to see nurse sharks in a coral cave! He made the universal shark sign of a hand straight up in the air on top of his head, and down we went. I panicked, but when we were looking right at them I was more mesmerized than scared. They had to pull me away. Such a strange feeling. The sharks couldn't care less that I was there. They were fairly small, so I don't know if I would react the same to ones twice my size, but it was amazing none-the-less.
Anyway, my point is that our fears are usually unwarranted, and the thrill of embracing them is well worth it. So... watch Sharkwater if you are afraid of sharks- amazing film.