were on location in the Maldives on an island called
Marafushi. This tiny island is surrounded with a coral
reef that drops from very shallow water to an 80 foot
plateau. The edge of the plateau drops steeply to 400
feet to a sand bottom .The sheer walls of this deep
reef form a passageway to open ocean .The passageway
leads to the reef shelf that drops down to over 3000
feet. The currents travelling along the wall supply
all manner of small life with plankton and oxygen. The
abundance of small life attracts a large variety of
ocean predators including manta rays, giant groper,
sting rays, dolphins, whale sharks, tuna and of course
The most common shark being the dangerous bull sharks
with the far less dangerous reef sharks in great numbers.
The reason I was here in the Maldives, was because of
the large population of sharks. The concept was to tie
baits to a coral head at the edge of the sheer wall
and film the sharks feeding. I had done much of this
type of filming before but was not prepared for what
would take place.
We took the dive boat out across the reef to arrive
at the drop off . On board I had approximately 80 pounds
of fish carcasses all wired together. My assistant took
my cameras and I swam down to the reef some 80 feet
below with the large collection of fish carcasses in
my hands, unfortunately as I swam down the fish brushed
against my wetsuit covered leg, leaving fish blood and
mucus on my suit. I felt the fish against my leg and
tried to keep the bait from touching me again, but their
was little I could do about the smell that was now on
my impregnated on my suit. I could either abort the
dive and change suits or carry on and hope for the best.
I decided to do the latter and swam on down through
the blue, arriving at the reef wall I twisted the wire
around a dead coral head so the sharks had to feed at
the one location and not speed off with all the bait.
I wanted extreme close up footage of the shark feeding.
Now the bait was firmly attached to the coral, I took
my movie cameras from my assistant and lay down flat
some few feet from the bait and waited.
The water was crystal clear as I could easily see the
dive boat 80 feet above and could see down the reef
wall the soft coral fans some 200 feet below. Looking
out into the blue I could see large predator fish like
tuna and trevally patrolling with the odd bull shark
in the distance. I forgot about the smell that was still
on my leg and calmed my nerves for what would happen
The smell of the bait began to drift down the reef wall
as the current increased with the outgoing tide. This
current took the smell of the bait along the passage
out into the open sea where the sharks were in abundance.
Soon small groper and trevally began to attack the bait
with fast rushes in and out to gain a mouth full. Then
came a large thickly bodied bull shark on the scene.
He swam around the bait and then approached me only
to turn away and circle again, I noticed a brightly
yellow striped pilot fish was riding the pressure wave
in front of his snout.
It is funny how I would notice such a small fish and
almost ignore the menacing shark, but when you have
spent most of your life as a diver the little things
become interesting. The sharks made another pass at
me this time coming within a few feet of my camera only
to speed off into the blue.
I thought at the time "he is going to get his mates"
Well that is exactly what he did because within minutes
sharks came in numbers too great to count began circling
me and the bait, then a large trevally started the action,
when it attacked the baits, his aggressive shaking caused
the vibration that stimulated the sharks to feed, A
feeding frenzy began as sharks of both species attacked
I was getting great action footage of the sharks grabbing
the baits , shaking heads and tearing off chunks of
flesh, when I felt something holding my lower leg. I
looked down from my viewfinder to see a sight that sent
shivers down my spine. The Maldives is known for its
exceptionally large moray eels and one of these monster
eels was mouthing my leg. It had smelt the fish blood
and mucus on my wetsuit and had placed his open jaws
around my calf muscle.
The moray would have exceeded 7 feet in length and a
head that was larger than any I had ever seen. Tropical
eels have a mouth filled with long needle sharp teeth
and very powerfully muscled jaws, an eel this size could
tear a shocking wound in my leg. The eel was not biting
however, but just mouthing my leg gently as if testing
to see what it was. My first thoughts were to get it
off my leg because if he tore open my leg at such close
proximity to the sharks in a feeding frenzy, I would
be literally torn to pieces by the sharks.
The problem facing me was how do I get the huge eel
off my leg without him tearing open my leg, I had a
sharp knife, but if I tried to kill the eel anything
could have happened. I decided to do nothing and lay
perfectly still. A few seconds later the eel lost interest
and swam up to the wired baits. Then a large shark seized
the eel and dragged him up off the bottom, other sharks
behaving like sea gulls, followed the shark with the
eel into the depths.
I resumed the filming of the sharks until the bait ran
out. When the bait was all gone, one dominant bull shark
rushed in, believing my filming light to be something
to eat gripped the light and shook it violently. I nearly
lost my hold on the camera housing, then the shark sped
off shaking its head from side to side in anger, leaving
me with the brass support arm bent at right angles and
deep teeth marks embedded in the light.
With no bait available the smell of blood disappeared
with the ever increasing current, the sharks vanished
into the deep blue depths.
I was lucky to survive that day, through my own stupidity,
I placed myself in a very dangerous situation. Once
I knew, I had blood and mucus on my leg, I should have
aborted the dive, but being sometimes an impatient man,
I went ahead with the dive.
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