For an hour or so daily, black-tipped reef sharks join the waters of the pink stingrays in the Pacific Islands, off the coast of Moorea. This French Polynesian island is accented with Colonial architecture, friendly locals, and island cuisine. Most people visit Moorea to discover the angry volcanoes that lurk in the distance, but braver souls ignore the smoking giants, and instead look inside (of the waters).
Because the sharks are inclined to feed on the pink stingrays whenever possible, the two are not often seen in the same area. In this Moorean lagoon, the two swim alongside of one another, and seemingly enjoy the sport of racing. Clever Moorea villagers decided that profits could be made from this wonderful pass time of watching the stingrays and sharks playing.
Fifteen years ago the locals began feeding the stingrays, in order to attract more of them. Tourists are now able to accompany locals to the shores, to feed the dangerous pink stingrays. The sharks still come to the lagoon, lured by the smell of fish being consumed by the stingrays. Today, the rays are the only marine animals that it is permissible to feed in Moorea.
Claiming that it’s perfectly safe to get into the waters with the black-tipped reef sharks, guides will often lead tourists into the water with the rays, to feed them close up. The guides in Moorea believe that black-tipped reef sharks in the Pacific Islands have different behaviour patterns than sharks elsewhere, so people need not fear them.
Swimming with the sharks is usually slang for death, but in the case of Moorea, it’s a re-birthing of sorts. People transcend their fears, and also manage to feed stingrays. The experience is something spiritual, a close tie with nature that people can’t understand until they’ve done it, and it’s worth the trip to Moorea in the Pacific Islands.