|Posted by Anne Siren on November 30, 2012 at 1:45 PM|
Pompano Beach - The diving community suffered a huge blow on Thanksgiving Day when a 45-foot catamaran that carried 23 people, both divers and children, capsized at the Hillsboro Inlet.
One person died.
The same community continues to grieve. Craig Dietrich, an underwater photographer, was among them.
Then a spectacular event occurred on Sunday about 10:30 a.m., an event that reminded those who dive the ocean what draws them to the sport.
Three boats were out over the Captain Dan Wreck, a diving spot less than a mile off the coast of Pompano Beach.
Dietrich, aboard the Sea Dog, the Pompano Dive Center boat, and the rest of the crew heard captains relaying messages about a whale shark cavorting in the area.
“Nobody believed it,” he said.
Then the captain of the Miss Conduct radioed that a whale shark was by his boat. He called, “We got three divers in the water and no photographers. Nobody will believe this.”
It didn’t take long for Dietrich and his camera to hook up with the Sea Pup and Miss Conduct and join divers already in the water with the whale shark.
“When the whale made one pass, we thought it was amazing, but he kept coming back. I think he was curious,” said Dietrich.
The giant fish played with the group for 45 minutes before he headed out to sea.
But he left behind a number of divers who had experienced a spiritual event that will last a lifetime.
“You know you are seeing something that is very rare. It was incredible to be less than a foot away from the gentleness of a 35-foot fish,” he said. “The largest living fish.”
Had it been a fearful adventure?
“Oh no,” said Dietrich. “The only danger from this fish would be its seven-foot tail fin. They are plankton eaters, and there is zero danger. They would have to gum you for about a couple of hours before you get a scratch.”