Sunday, August 22, 2010

More about Scarface!

Well, gee Wolfgang!
Thanks for telling Everybody – with friends like you, one sure doesn’t need enemies! :)

Anyway, yes, I really did nearly soil my pants!
Keep in mind that this was in 2003, meaning way before everybody and his dog would flock to Tiger Beach, plus it was our first ever face-to-face encounter. Previously, I had only encountered one big Tiger who chased my out of the water when I took a bucket of fish down on Osprey Reef in 1977, plus I had experienced a few short flybys that were equally totally unexpected, frightening and ultimately, disappointing.

After the encounter, I ran home and sent this to Ron and Val.

So, the tigers are the good guys, huh ... just push them away you said...

(Ron had just sent me a message stating, remember, Tigers are good guys and if he comes too close simply push him away. Bulls are much more dangerous than Tigers.)

Just came out of the water and here's what's happened: the 4.5m tiger turned up at the hand feed, snatched the bin and took it to 30m. There, she tried to get into it but was too big and got all pissed off as there were scores of bulls trying to steal its fish.
Remembering what you had said, I went down with Manasa and Rusi and was peacefully filming away, as she decided to have a go at us. Manasa had a fish and so did Rusi but when she came for me, all I had was the camcorder. She bit it twice and tried to wrestle it away (camera running), after which she then had a serious go for Manasa who had taken back the bin. She was really going for him and he was zipping around that bin trying not to get caught til she finally gave up.
Got it all on camera as well!

The following day, having somewhat calmed down, I wrote well, for panicking or getting aggressive there just wasn't enough time.. all i was trying is to hang on to my housing which was half-way in, monitor and all, with those teeth much too close to my hand holding the handle - and you know how they are, she would have just gobbled it down. It came out pretty rumpled but thanks to Gates, in perfect working condition (and still running).
Re-looking at the tape, I now think that having gotten the fish from Manasa and Rusi, she was assuming that I wanted to give her something as well.

Yes the camera kept running and you can all watch it right here: Papa's dance around the bin at 0:58 and the bite, at the very end at 6:51!

As to Doug’s picture, it is obviously stellar!
This is the very start of the bite and you can see her pushing on the monitor. Doug had what then was the best digital camera (you can see him at the end of the bin dance sequence), but it was slow to recycle and he missed the bite proper – still, to this day, the pic graces the Gates website and they can boast to build Tiger-proof housings!

In terms of size, I am 2m so she was about 4.5 meters long. And she has continued to grow!
Once it became clear that she would become a regular, we named her Scarface after the many scars disfiguring her mouth and exposing her teeth.

Initial encounters were rather problematic, which made for many entries in the Naughty File.
She would continuously try to steal the bin (4:15) and attempt to scare us away by gaping (0:28), which is Tigerese for piss off, this belongs to me, and when we wouldn’t acquiesce but fight back, she would get seriously angry and become outright dangerous, like on 6:31 where she is actively snapping and trying to cause harm.
No mellow and docile here - huggers: learn from it!

We did, abandoned our attempts to steer her with the prods which he hates with a vengeance all the way to wrestling them out of our hands and then spitting them out (3:43) and now keep the food in a large aluminum box that we have dubbed the Rubik’s cube for Tiger Sharks and that her best and incredibly persistent attempts will neither dislodge nor crack.

When it comes to our private and very much personal relationship, it certainly improved - which is easy!
After that first attempt, she never, ever tried to bite the housing again. But on every visit, she would make it a point to pop by and give it a good sniff, resulting in some truly memorable footage. As an example, in one scene (mellow and thus not in the file) she comes from the left and positions herself inches away from the lens; then the whole body behind the head pivots from left to right and finally, she departs back to where she came from, without ever having touched the housing! In other scenes, I would have to lightly push her away, as in 2:40 and 6:08 where it looks like it is her touching the camera.
Stellar stuff!

Since I started lugging around the Boat, matters have alas become a tad more impersonal.
Now, it’s me who has to sneak up on her or position myself close to the feeder, where she barely deigns to acknowledge my presence by giving me a quick glance. Obviously, the size and electronic signature are completely different as the Fathom Imaging lens is one huge piece of inert material – or, horribile dictu, I may just be losing my sex appeal in line with what is happening in my terrestrial existence!
But despite of the snubbing: the love and the excitement will never falter!

Check her out (click to enlarge): here she is straight from the footage 3 days ago, beautiful and quite, but not yet terminally pregnant – meaning that she will stick around for another while before going walkabout, possibly for a couple of months.
So, what are you waiting for…. !!!

As to Wolf wanting to meet her?
I don’t usually share my girls but for him, I’ll make an exception.
He knows that and has long had an open invitation to come dive on the house – with one caveat: he will have to strap on a tank and do it on SCUBA!

So, what’s it gonna be?
DaWolf, will you make a small, insignificant compromise in order to meet a truly wonderful lady? Piece of cake for a waterman like you! Or will you remain the usual stubborn old fart and continue whining about the missed opportunity?

Am I putting you on the spot?
Well, altes Haus: wie Du mir! :)


Wolfgang Leander said...

OK, Mike - you have convinced me.

All you'd have to do is certify me with a resort course just to do this one SCUBA dive -- plus, and here comes the tough part (for you!!). you'd have to let me hug Scarface... DEAL?????

lyn nelson said...

WHO is going to certify you Wolfer? Now you are in hot water....I'll fly anywhere to do the honors.


Patric Douglas said...

Don't do it Mike!

Like a naked kid on a hot summer day in a park fountain Wolf will be outta dat dive gear in 15 seconds flat and doing his thing before you know it;)

Just kidding.

DaShark said...

Mensch Wolf!

But no hugging of Bulls - as Ron says, they are different!

How about June/July.
Scarface is likely to be back (and knowing her, she'll be covered in new love bites in no time!) and the expected La Niña should have fizzled out, meaning no more rain and good viz.
Plus, there will still be heaps of Bulls!

Man, if you really do it, you're in for some traveling!
Just think of all those places you've never quite been able to fully experience, many of which are just a stone's throw away like Cocos and northern Galapagos!

DaShark said...

PS: same offer for Sohnemann! :)