First-Hand Experience: Charline Meadows

When we see something first-hand, our view can change dramatically. This is seen in movies as well as real life. For example, in James Cameron’s “Avatar”, Jake’s view of the natives was changed as he got to know them. In Andy Tennant’s “Ever After”, Prince Henry’s view of peasants was changed as he got to know Danielle better. Experience changes perspective. Shark diving changes the perspectives of people who decide to do that adventure, whether it's in the open ocean, or in an aquarium.

I did my first shark dive when I was nine years old. My dad was a shark diver and shark photographer as long as I could remember, so I didn’t think I would be afraid of sharks. I always went down to my dad’s equipment room with him as a kid to find him editing videos and photos, and I would see posters of different kinds of sharks, photos he took, magazines his photos were in, his wetsuits and drysuits, his camera gear, his scuba gear, shark teeth, shark books...this was normal. However, he decided to take me to Guadalupe Island for my 10th birthday, and I would turn 10 at the island. He even got little ol’ me a GoPro, telling me to take good pictures and videos, and watch how he did it too so I could learn. Getting on the plane, no problem. Getting on the boat, no problem. Traveling on boat to the island, barfed more than ever but all in all, no problem. Got to the island, and the time came to get in the cage to see the great whites. That’s when it hit me. I wasn’t afraid of sharks, was I? My dad did this all the time and was recognized for it, there was no way I could be afraid. But I was. It took some coaxing to tell me that the cage would protect me, the sharks were on the outside and I was on the inside, dad was there with me, etc. Shaking, I finally got in the cage.

When I saw my first shark, Shredder (AKA Cal Ripfin), I quickly realized he was way bigger than dad’s photos. These animals were huge! After spending a couple days in the water with them, my fear disappeared. These animals were not out to get me. Shredder (my new best friend) was not out to get me, he was just sharing the same planet I was. Not going to lie, he was very mischievous. But that’s just Shredder.

Fast forward, and my little sister is turning 10 years old. Double digits! If you know Charline, you know she tends to be more afraid of things than I ever was. So for her first shark diving experience, we decided to take a trip to Springfield, MO to try Wonders of Wildlife’s new shark tank experience. Up to four people could be in the cage, and so my mom, Charline, and I went. First, we got to go through the aquarium, then it was time to get ready for the Out to Sea Shark Dive. Charline is now 11 years old, and she recalls her experience by writing it down. Here’s her story.

"Hi, my name is Charline, my first shark dive was in Springfield, MO. When I got close to the water, I was worried that I would fall in. Now we got our water suits on and watched a little movie, then we got in the cage. I felt alive like my whole life grew. So, in the cage, I could take photos, and I took 250 photos.

P.S. The cool part was when they snuck behind us.

We had to get out because our turn was over. It was a wonderful thing that ever happened.

P.S. I’m scared of sharks. My family helped me overcome being scared of sharks. I want to thank my sister for asking if I could go with her, and I said “Sure!”. I am glad I went. That is the story of my shark dive.

Thanks for reading!"

That pretty well sums it up. Two sisters that overcame their fear of sharks at ten years old. Just like for my first shark experience, we took pictures with the GoPros that were provided. You can do this shark dive as well at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.

Experience changes perspective. Learn to experience something you’re afraid of, because as discussed in an earlier article, fear brings you down, hinders you, and stops you from living life to the fullest. Take a trip to be in the presence of sharks. Aquariums are everywhere, and they are there so you can learn and experience part of what nature has to offer, all while being closer to home. I promise you, your view will change.

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