Here I am, alone, in the waters off Koh Tao, Thailand huddled up like Gollum on a spindly piece of granite poking out of the bay. I’m scorching in the sun, about 200 yards from shore, trying to keep the blood pouring out of my toes from trickling into the water, wondering what the fuck to do next. There’s a stupid bitch ass shark, I presume, circling around sniffing my ass out. Moments earlier I had been happily snorkeling my face off.
I had been following a reef along the edge of the island delighting in the variety of sea life everywhere. Anemones darting in and out of the coral, sea urchins, colorful fish of all sizes, the occasional critter skirting into the shadows out of site. It was abso-fucking-lutely amazing. Following the reef left me unaware of what was going on above me or around me for that matter. I had kept my face in the water for so long that I, being naive and downright stupid about snorkeling in the Gulf of Thailand, had drifted quite a ways away from shore. I found myself on the edge of the reef a few hundred yards from shore in the mouth of a bay. The water I had been swimming in was shallow, maybe 10 feet deep, but now as I crossed over the edge and looked down, the crystal clear water extended below me 30 or 40 feet. I could see several giant fish swimming in the depths, snapper maybe? I treaded water for a short while in what could only be described as a giant coral bowl. A giant piece of brain coral teeming with life directly behind me, a field of sea urchins in shallow water stretching beyond that to the beach, the sides of the bay were vertical walls of smooth rock, ahead of me some distance away a buoy bobbed gently, and beyond that a fishing boat swayed with the current. I was met with a sudden sense of calm, as I peered into the depths, feeling the breeze on my back, the sea-life doing sea-life stuff, and the warm water splashing around me. Suddenly and inexplicably reality kicked in and I realized how far away from shore I was and how exposed I was floating in the middle of what suddenly felt like the middle of the fucking ocean. Without waiting a minute, and almost exactly on queue nature decided to say, “Yeah, motherfucker. Be in fucking awe of my shit!” Coming directly at me out of the darkness, the unmistakeable site of nature’s Avatar of Respect My Fucking Bad Assery, making a hurried beeline directly at me! I had never seen a shark before but they’re fairly unmistakeable and my caveman survival instincts knew what to do before my brain even registered what I was looking at. Unfortunately my survival brain didn’t remember the giant coral reef directly behind me. I pushed back in the water as fast as I could startling the shark into a different trajectory, but in doing so smashed my toes exposed in the flipper against the coral sending a plume of blood up into the water. I turned and swam as hard as I could towards a tiny rocky outcropping about 30 feet away and this is just about where you joined my story.
Bleeding rather heavily I began doing what I could to keep the blood out of the water, which included smooshing the dirt and sand from the rock into the wound to try and staunch the bleeding. This proving to be surprisingly ineffective. “You’re so fucking dumb. You’re totally going to get eaten out here. No one knows you’re here and you’re going to definitely get eaten.” Gazing outward over the minefield of spiky fucking sea urchins littering the shallow water between me and the beach preparing for my imminent demise, I recall a bit of some Dan Brown(?) novel I had recently finished. One of the characters has a bloody leg and has to jump into sharky waters so he pisses all over himself to cover up the scent of blood, his reasoning being that human pee is somehow scary to animals trying to hunt you and eat you. What. A. Load. Of Horse-shit. At the time however, I said fuck it, I’ll try anything. Whipping it out, I began peeing on my foot, my leg, and for good measure stood on the rock and spun like a fucking lawn sprinkler spraying my piss in a circle into the water around the rock. Taking a deep breath, and scanning the water for Mr. Asshole shark, I jumped in and swam like an Olympic hopeful towards the shallows. As I pass inches above sea urchin spikes I begin telling myself that the shark isn’t going to follow me, the sea urchins would spike him too, sharks hate being spiked, yeah, that’s it, sharks hate sea urchins. Spikes, so many spikes. I decide peeing again is a good idea, so as I swim I spurt out what pee I’ve got left in me between strokes. The thought now creeping in that something struggling through shallow waters, peeing, and bleeding is more akin to a creature in distress and easy prey than that of something to be feared. (Eff you Dan Brown(?)) Fucking shit… swim mother-fucker, swiimmmmm!!! Completely spent and dragging my exhausted ass out of the water on my hands and knees I lie for a moment or three, face down, unaware of my surroundings, panting heavily, being the worst merman ever. Looking up, a few yards away a gorgeous young woman sunbathing topless and reading a book is staring at me. I manage to cough out breathlessly, “There was a shark.” She sneers with a look of complete disdain, searing her displeasure with my arrival into my soul as she simply shakes her head and turns back to her book.
The danger over and with a lowered head, humility towards nature restored, I remove my frog-man outfit and slowly plod back to my little beach shack, where a whisky is waiting and to which I can’t get to quickly enough.
[Writers Note: On investigation into the area, it is common for black tip reef sharks to be in that area. There are dive tours that go and swim with the fuckers apparently. It literally takes the piss out of you to run into one of them unexpectedly though. I got lost in the wonder and forgot where I was. Just a fun little tale. Watch where you swim and if you keep your head down too long and forget to stop and look around once in a while you might lose track of where you were headed. Also, in defense of Dan Brown, I did not get eaten despite my bleeding foot. Maybe the pee worked. Sorry for eff youing you Dan Brown. I think the first person I called was Lauren…]