Dive instructor Rachael Vietheer is just one of the pros at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, New York. She showed me the face mask and helped me put on a weight harness so I wouldn't float away.
All systems go!
We were lowered into the cold saltwater and greeted by eager sharks and other fish that swam around us.
I was relieved to hear this: "Today we're not on the menu."
Darth Vader voice and all, we were actually able to talk through an underwater communication system. I was told not to forget to breathe and to keep my fingers inside the cage at all times.
The sharks are actually native New Yorkers, caught as pups off the coast of Jones Beach. I met Bertha, Bumps, Drummer and Shredfin -- four sand tiger sharks. After one last wave we emerged extremities intact.
If you want to get to know them a little better you have to be at least 12. The 20-minute underwater experience costs $165. Seeing them is one thing but being in the cage is another.