Few wild animals are as scary as sharks. And Tiger sharks are as ferocious as they come. Or at least that’s what we’re taught in school. But in reality, sharks are absolutely capable of affection, as is shown in this incredible story.
Jim Abernethy has an undeniably cool job. He’s a shark conservationist and spends his working days studying the behavior of sharks so he can protect them from threats that could lead to extinction.
Incredibly, he has been best friends with a Tiger shark called Emma for more than twenty years! When Jim first encountered Emma in the ocean, she was afraid. Humans lack a lot of understanding when it comes to the behavior of sharks, and we don’t consider the fact that sharks are actually inherently afraid of humans.
In the incredible video footage, you can see how close Emma and Jim have become over the years. It all started when Emma came close by and gently brushed against Jim. After a while, he decided that it was okay to rub her head, and she certainly seemed to enjoy it!
Jim used this as an opportunity to remove the hooks that would inevitably get stuck in Emma’s mouth, and their relationship developed in such a way that Emma followed Jim everywhere he went and rubbed up against him.
Jim is well aware that the relationship between the two of them is somewhat unusual, as he recalls:
“It’s quite remarkable to see this enormous, wild animal actually seeking out affection, and she does this every time that I’m with her. She knows who I am even when I change my suit. I would suspect that it’s the same as your dog recognizing you.”
And Jim really thinks that the enormous Tiger shark could well be a dog in disguise! He continues:
“She’s fifteen feet long. It’s very intimidating until you get to know her. Then once you get to know her, she is literally the same personality that you would find from your Labrador retriever.”
You might be concerned for Jim’s safety, and given the size of the sharks, it’s tempting to ask why he’s not in danger. But as he explains in the video, sharks don’t eat humans and never attack when they can see what they’re doing.
Shark attacks are always a case of mistaken identity, and Jim educates us that it’s not actually an ‘attack’ at all. It’s simply a mistake, as it’s not in the nature of a shark to attack humans in such a way.
And we want to end this article with Jim’s touching words about sharks, and encourage our readers to change the way we view these magnificent beings:
“I hope people will come to change their perception of sharks and come to realize that these are sentient creatures that need to be treated with love and respect.”