In 2011, our family stayed in Bora Bora, French Polynesia. As an avid diver, I was so looking forward to having my 16 year old son, Jesse, finally join me underwater, and we took our first dive together in Bora Bora as father and son. The setting was surreal and unbelievably gorgeous. Reaching the bottom in about 60 feet of water, our divemaster, Laurant, opened a plastic water bottle that was pre-filled with fish parts. He shook the bottle, releasing its contents slowly and deliberately. Within seconds, we were surrounded by dozens of sharks, circling us methodically. Mostly, they were black-tipped reef sharks, common to Tahitian waters, plus a few gray sharks and one very gigantic 20' lemon shark, which looked like a massive torpedo with razor-sharp teeth. Our adrenaline rush was immediate and powerful. On one of the lemon shark's passes, Laurant grabbed the dorsal fin and "rode" it for a while. As an experienced diver, I had never witnessed anything like this before. Jesse, being a new diver, was wide-eyed and astonished...as it certainly was a first for him too! Later, when the shark made another pass, Laurant took one of my hands, and one of Jesse's hands, and placed them on the lemon shark's dorsal fin. We held on, and preceded to "ride" this shark for what seemed like an eternity, looking at each other in what was a combination of absolute delight and sheer terror. Finally, we let go of the shark, and watched him gracefully swim away. Upon surfacing, Jesse and I were so excited we could hardly contain ourselves. We shouted and gasped for air in delight. On the ride back to the Resort, we shared our experience with the other divers, a few of which had witnessed what we had done. Once on land, we told and re-told this story to my wife and daughter and anyone that would listen. Still to this day, we can't believe what we did. It was an exhilarating, and an unbelievable father/son first-dive bonding experience…a once-in-a-lifetime memory we will never forget.
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