This is a photo that comes with a story. There’s a place where I often snorkel that is home to a large group of barracudas. Most of these barracudas are around a foot and a half in length, though a few are much larger than that. I’ve mentioned before how barracudas give me the willies. They have not attacked anyone in Hawaiian waters to my knowledge, but they just have a certain look about them.
On this day I had passed the barracudas’ territory closer to the shore than I usually do. I didn’t see a single one of them. On my return, I swam farther out and, at one point, saw this barracuda and a second one (the jaw of which can just be seen in the photo) coming toward me. This was a bit unnerving but they slid by to one side, which is when I took this photo.
I turned my head and saw them curl around behind me. This wasn’t unusual; I’ve often had barracudas track me as I pass. Then I noticed a couple more arrive. This was less reassuring. I kept swimming steadily because I didn’t really have any other options. There was no way I was going to outrun them. Pretty much everything in the ocean moves faster than me and that probably includes some snails and sea cucumbers. Equally, I didn’t feel like turning to face them because the possible results of doing that included some I didn’t much like.
It seemed like every time I turned my head to see where they were, another barracuda had joined the pack. There must have been eight or nine of them at one point. Luckily, I didn’t see any of the very large barracudas among them, as that would definitely have made me even more nervous.
After a while I reached a rocky islet, a place where I usually first encounter the barracudas. They were all still behind me when I got there, but soon after I passed they were gone. While I’ve seen them in many different areas, this spot does seem to mark some edge to the territory of the main group.
I swam on, looking behind from time to time, and feeling more relaxed each time I did so. At least until I looked ahead one time and saw one of the huge barracudas heading right at me. It too passed by and I didn’t see it again, but it was time for me to get out of the water.