Diving with Hammerheads in Yonaguni

It’s an exercise of patience, diving for pelagics.

We plunged into the blue waters, the shock of the jump quickly replaced with a sense of calm, belying the rolling seas and biting wind above.

At first, our eyes see nothing but blue. Suspended in this blue environment, the bubbles from our regulators are the only indication of which way is up. Our eyes strain for discernable shapes, anything, in this endless blue.

Nothing, for a long while. Then from the depths, a school of unicorn fishes. And slowly, we make out details of the sandy bottom.

But no sharks yet. Our group circles around, maintaining a constant depth of 20m, watching the tiny organisms and jellyfish float us by, these timeless beings that have survived through the age of dinosaurs, megalodons, and other ancient creatures that are no more. Our air guage is dropping. It’s almost time to do a safety stop, and ascend back into the wildness above.

Then, the dive guide hits his tank, the sound short, sharp, and sweet. We swivel our heads to the direction he is urgently pointing. Six hammerheads swimming by by. They are big, muscular, but what beauties. We eagerly try to match their speed, to keep up, but it is futile. One peels off from the rest, turning around with a casual flick of its tail to head back to give us a closer check out, its long sinewy body undulating gracefully.

After what seems like just seconds go by, then the sharks swim out of sight. And then it is time for us to go back up too.

The hammerheads photos are courtesy of Nancy, our fellow diver, an American working on the Air Force Base in Okinawa. She shot these amazing photos of the hammerheads; our GoPro with it’s ultra wide angle don’t do them any justice.

We also enjoyed a reef dive as our check out dive, where we saw the largest patch of sea anemone ever, probably measuring 10m by 2m wide, with dozens of clown fishes flitting about the soft fronds.

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