The movie industry has a lot to answer for to the world of animals. Their unrealistic portrayal of certain animals has caused a lot of problems through the years.
After 101 Dalmatians became such a hit, the public clamored to purchase a Dalmatian. Even the biggest cheerleaders for Dals will tell you that this is not a breed for everyone. And as a result, shelters were filled with unwanted Dal puppies and adults after the new wore off.
It works both ways. Portraying only the nasty and vicious side of a species can cause favor to go just as drastically in the other direction.
After Jaws hit the big screen, most people didn’t go looking for a shark breeder. Nope, the whole world just decided that sharks were all deadly and vicious and should be killed on sight.
Australian professional scuba diver Rick Anderson scoffs at that notion. And he has the proof that sharks and humans not only can but do coexist peacefully.
We are pretty sure that when you see that proof, you’ll agree that we should not just arbitrarily be afraid of these beautiful ocean dwellers.
Just look at this proof!
Granted, this Port Jackson shark doesn’t have quite the deadly appearance of the Great White that we all were introduced to in Jaws. But, she can, in fact, be just as deadly…if she has to be.
Anderson and this particular shark have become very good friends over the years. He met her years ago when she was just a six-inch-long baby.
He mentions the friendship they have established over the years in class to students at his diving school off the coast of Nobbys Beach in New South Wales, Australia. Divers need to know what to fear, what to avoid and how to react to different species and situations.
“I started playing with her about seven years ago when she was just a pup about six inches long,” Rick said. “I approached her carefully so as not to spook her, then began to gently pat her. Once she got used to me, I would cradle her in my hand and talk soothingly to her through my regulator.”
Rick still visits her regularly. It is obvious that the shark even recognizes him each and every time. Who would have known that a shark, of all animals, could have that kind of ability? Well, Rick knew. And he wants all of us to know that too.
His visits today go pretty much like that first meeting all those years ago went. “I did this each time in the first season she was here,” Rick said. “Then over the following seasons, she’d recognize me and would swim up to me for a pat and cuddle. She soon got used to me—to the point where she will swim up to me when I’m going past, and tap me on the legs until I hold my arms out for her to lay on for a cuddle.”
Hard to imagine a shark or other deep sea dweller as being cuddly. But, photos don’t lie!
Not all divers share Joe’s opinion about sharks.
“Most divers seeing this for the first time can’t believe it,” Rick continued to explain. “I don’t feed her or any of the other sharks I play with—I basically treat them like I would a dog.”
Rick hopes that documenting his unique friendship with this special little shark will help more people become less afraid of other sharks, who are so often thought of only as monsters.
That doesn’t mean he wants everyone to go out and jump in with a Great White expecting the encounter to go as sweetly as his visits to his friend. They’re not pets, and only experts like Rick should ever try to touch them. Still, in the right circumstances, they could be more interesting than scary!
“The biggest misconception about sharks is that they are all mindless killers lying in wait for people to enter the water so they can be devoured,” Rick said. Obviously, there’s more to sharks than some people might think, so hopefully, Rick and his shark pal change plenty of minds!
Source: Honest To Paws