Sharks have a lot of sensory organs on the ventral side of their snout, and I had read that if you grab them there, they are very sensitive and they stop doing whatever they’re doing. So as the shark swam up to me, I essentially punched it with the palm of my hand, underneath its snout.
Then the shark and I sat there. It felt like two or three weeks that we hung out. And then it flicked its tail and vanished. The entire thing happened in less than five seconds. We called the boat to come get us. I’ve never swum so fast.
I later looked through all the guidebooks to figure out what kind of shark I had seen. All the shark photos are taken from the side because that’s how people see them — they don’t usually get the front view of the shark. But I’m 99 percent certain that what I saw was a bull shark, which is one of the most aggressive shark species in the world.
Sometimes they’ll swim up and bump you. It’s partly territoriality, and it’s partly them investigating you, trying to figure out what you are. I know plenty of people who have been bumped by bull sharks, but no one who’s gotten to look at them face-to-face like that. I’m still not sure whether the shark thought I was a sea lion, or whether it was just curious.
It may have just thought I was a girl shark and it wanted to check me out.