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An Interview With a Caribbean Reef Shark

Editor’s Note: It is with great sadness we report that Bernard “Klute” Schober passed away while hiking in his hometown of Phoenix, AZ in July. Klute was a prominent slam poet and diver known for his generosity, jovial nature and love of sharks. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed. 

 

On a sunny September’s day in Nassau, I managed to float down with a Caribbean reef shark, where, over gin and tonic immobility, we discussed life toward the top of the trophic pyramid. 

Klute Schober: Thanks for swimming by today.

Caribbean Reef Shark: No problem, it was on my way to my next island.

KS: “Caribbean” is pretty broad; where do you actually live?

CRS: From blue Bahama waters to the Mexican surf! We’re unique to this part of the ocean, but sharks are found in every ocean, except the Southern Antarctic.

KS: Some of our readers might be distressed about that.

CRS: They shouldn’t be! Unless you’re a chonky grouper, you’re not on the menu. We’re just curious — if anything, you intimidate us. We’ll swim away before you even notice we’re there.

KS: You’re never aggressive?

CRS: Well, don’t try to grab onto us for a ride. That selfie you get may not be the one you want.

KS: You mentioned “sustainability.” I imagine as a threatened species that’s important to you. How can our readers help?

CRS: Don’t buy wildlife souvenirs! Sharks’ jaws and tooth necklaces belonged to friends of mine! And coral? Ooof. That’s my home. Oh — and ask how your seafood was caught!

KS: What else should we know about you?

CRS: Lots! Even though we live near 44 million humans, you all know so little about us. You’re still trying to figure out where we mate, give birth, how long we live. We’re on Shark Week so much, you’d think our story’s been told, but really — your scientists have barely scratched the surface of the mysteries of all [waves fins] this. I urge you to get to know the real us — through responsible shark tourism!

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This is an excerpt from the latest issue of Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine. To continue reading, click above for a digital or print subscription.

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Bernard “Klute” Schober is a shark-diver and conservationist who has traveled the far-flung seas of the world, from the Laccadive to the Caribbean, to document his toothy friends, and is an award-winning voice on poetry slam’s national stages.