Humans often think the worst of sharks. There are plenty of horror stories out there of sharks sinking their teeth into human flesh. Many people are afraid to swim in water that has sharks in it, especially if they are bleeding at all. But sharks may not be the cold-blooded killers we assume they are.
In fact, they may be much more friendly than we give them credit for. One man even compares them to dogs. For Jim Abernethy, sharks are just big loving pets who happen to live in the ocean.
Jim is a shark conservationist who has bonded with a number of these magnificent creatures. He often dives down into the waters of Tiger Beach in the Bahamas to help out his underwater friends. He saves these sharks by removing hooks and other obtrusions. He has removed over 80 hooks from the mouths of sharks, and in doing so he has been able to bond with them on a level many of us could hardly imagine.
Jim runs Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures, an organization that is all about bonding with sharks. “For over 30 years JASA has been the premier outfitter for up close and personal encounters, in addition to world-class photography opportunities, with tiger, great hammerhead, oceanic white tip, bull, lemon and whale sharks,” the website explains.
Since Tiger Beach is known for being a relatively safe environment, it is the perfect location in which to bond with the sharks. Jim and his crew have even named some of the more distinctive animals. The connection he shares with these creatures is truly remarkable.
Since the man has helped so many sharks, he has had the opportunity to form strong ties with some of them. They are familiar enough with him to know that he is a friend, not a threat. With that knowledge in mind, the sharks swim right alongside Jim and the other members of his team. Recently, though, he has been able to do something even more incredible.
Jim is able to touch the sharks without them freaking out. Many of us would be too horrified to even try, but this man’s compassion for the creatures is only rivaled by his bravery. Much to his surprise, the sharks didn’t mind being touched. In fact, they loved it!
The first time Jim placed his hand on a shark’s head he must have been terrified, but the sharks he has bonded with do not pull away at the sensation of his touch. Quite the opposite, they swim around and approach him again, looking for more affection. Who would have guessed?
“You can see the Tiger Sharks come back repeatedly to get this affection over and over and over again,” Jim explained. “It’s a real privilege to be with these beautiful creatures.”
According to Jim, who probably knows more about shark behavior than most people on the planet, sharks are quite similar to dogs. They absolutely love to be pet. As you can imagine, sharks do not feel the sensation of human touch very often. Many of us would never dream of swimming in the same water as wild sharks, let alone sticking a hand out to touch one.
Of course, Jim’s adventures are not without a little danger. He has once been bitten by a lemon shark, but he never let that stop him from pursuing his passion. When he was healed he got right back into the water and rededicated himself to helping his underwater friends.
It is incredible to watch the sharks swim around Jim. They swirl and circle him, but they never look frightened or angered. Instead, they seem to want to play with him.
Sharks may be much friendlier than we realize. Yes, people do die from shark attacks, but death from health problems and car crashes are infinitely more common. Jim hopes one day to live in a world where these stunning creatures are shown the compassion and care that they deserve.
“I wish there was some way that I could get the world to see what these beautiful creatures are really like,” he explained, “so we could end the needless slaughter and keep our oceans healthy, not only for them but for our own existence on the planet.”
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Source: Wise Wanderer