Tiger Shark Approach
Listen up, and listen good. This interaction was beautiful. She approached us unexpectedly but slowly and with curiosity. It happened today while my friend Hannah and I were searching for mantas just 100m from the shore. As we turned, watching a grey reef shark cruise below us, we saw this beautiful face emerge from behind it.
Tiger sharks have been given a bad reputation, with encounters like this captioned as "shark attack" or "shark scare". But that's not what this was. She is intelligent, interested and an apex predator. Her kind has survived 400 million years and now WE have reduced her numbers by 90%. I am honoured and count myself as one of the luckiest humans on the planet to be in the presence of such a being, for her to come to me, in the wild and unbaited.
Of course the adrenaline surges through as soon as you see the big shadow turning towards you. Then you see her look right at you, her stripes are vibrant in the shallow depth. She swims between us and continues on her way, recognising us as something other than a food source.
If you have no idea how to interact with a big shark I don't recommend it. Just like I wouldn't recommend walking down a back street in a country with cultures you don't understand. If you act inappropriately or out of panic, the blame will be undoubtedly be placed on the shark, as we see all the time. Calm interactions can result in once-in-a-lifetime experiences, this is one I certainly will never forget.
Just imagine if this footage was put in a different light. I could have put faced-paced "Jaws" like music, we could have yelled out and screamed through our snorkels. I could have captioned it "Terrifying tiger shark comes from the deep!". And although the movement and actions of this shark would be unchanged, your perception of her intention would be much different.
Remember when you read those headlines, to look beyond the hype.
Remember that sharks don't want to eat you.
Remember that we must change fear into awe and ignorance into obsession.
Then we can #SaveTheSharks.
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