But that mattered little when we saw the tiger shark. We had been snorkelling in a large group with three guides from a local agency. As I had battled vertigo after my seizure and concussion, I was using a "noodle" (a decidedly uncool snorkelling accessory) to try to keep water out of my ears, a losing battle given the relatively high waves.
My husband saw him first, deep below us, and called to me to look; and then I saw him too, and felt my heart almost stop. About 4 feet long, with the tiger markings that juveniles wear, he was searching for prey that fortunately did not seem to include us. For one brief moment, I felt calm, and proud of my calm. Then, when we suddenly got caught in a large school of small fish, and I thought about the shark's likely preferred diet -- some ancient preservation system kicked in, and I frantically splashed my way back to the boat, noodle in tow and almost hyperventilating, as though propelled by a large motor.
My awe, amazement (and fear) kept me from participating in the next round of snorkelling, which was even more awe-inspiring (and likely safer -- involving only gentle, black-tipped reef sharks). Still, the encounter left an indelible memory, as all such encounters with nature, truly raw and wild, do. Here's to the wild beauty and amazing creatures of this remarkable world, to protecting and preserving them, and finding moments, when we can, to (safely) see, and be amazed.