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Jason Wahler Headshot

Expanding Horizons in the Ocean

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I just recently participated in one of the most exciting adventures of my life -- shark diving. But I didn't do it alone, I brought along two co-workers from Northbound to experience it with me.

We drove from Orange County up the coast of California until we reached San Francisco, where we would be doing the dive. After the seven hour drive to Northern CA, we hit up a vintage shop real quick to grab some cold weather gear (since it was much colder than the OC) and headed back to our rented apartment to settle in before our 5a.m. wake up call the next morning for the big dive. Let's just say that for me, trying to sleep the night before I was about to go diving with Great Whites was kind of like being a little kid again and trying to stay up to see Santa. I was lucky to catch a few hours of sleep, but was mostly too pumped to get any rest.

Morning came quick, and our boat was to leave at 6a.m. As we made our way down to the San Francisco pier, it was absolutely freezing. The water itself was only about 45 degrees. We walked up to our boat and saw a huge steel cage attached to the back of our boat. We knew that would be our vessel into the water to see these amazing creatures. Not only were we taken aback by what we were about to do, but even the fishermen at the pier were intrigued, too.

We hopped on the boat and got ready for our 30-mile trip out to the Farrallon Islands to dive. We passed the Bay Bridge and Alcatraz in the pitch black, which made the whole experience seem creepy. Even when the sun was coming up, the fog wasn't lifted yet, and it made for a really eerie feeling. As we were heading out there, I was concerned about how this dive would impact my ability to surf and be one with the ocean in the future. I wasn't sure how seeing these sharks would sit with me, and was hoping that I wouldn't psych myself out too much to keep me from doing all the water sports I love to do.

When we arrived to the islands, we pulled on our 7mm wetsuits to keep warm, and got ready to dive. The first group of divers went down and didn't see anything, which bummed us out. When it was our turn, however, we were able to see a Great White up close and personal -- but only for about 15 seconds before it swam away. However, it was possibly one of the coolest things I have ever seen, even if it was quick. As soon as I saw it, I got super excited to the point where I went back up to the surface to encourage my co-worker to jump in quick to see.

Our sighting of the shark was the only sighting that day, but what was really great about our trip was that after everyone called it quits on diving, I went back in. I laid down in the cage and just sat there, looking at all the fish and jellyfish go by. To me, this just reminded me why I love the ocean so much, and really added even more excitement my experience.

While on the diving trip, I met an awesome guy who goes shark diving all around the world. After talking for a bit, I realized that this wasn't something to do just to scratch it off my bucket list, but it was something that I think I could develop a hobby in. So, next year, my dad, my brothers and myself are going to travel to Guatemala to do another dive, and I cannot wait to see what that adventure brings!

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