Sharks get a bad rap. They’re depicted on TV either chomping into boats or tossing seals into the air like toys. But maybe all they need is a little love.
Seven years ago, Australian diver Rick Anderson was off the coast of Nobbys Beach in New South Wales, Australia, when he made an unusual friend: a female Port Jackson shark.
This shark swims up to her diver friend for a cuddle every time she sees him. https://t.co/wpqRT2olfQ pic.twitter.com/7H1SzPO6B1
— The Dodo (@dodo) January 12, 2017
“I started playing with her about seven years ago when she was just a pup about 6 inches long,” Anderson told The Dodo. “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.”
The shark has gone from 6-inches long to about 6-feet long now, but she still recognizes Anderson and still insists on her cuddle quota.
“I did this each time in the first season she was here,” Anderson told The Dodo. “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.”
And while this story by The Dodo came out in January, Anderson continues to post about his unique shark friendship on his Facebook page:
Anderson’s profile pic is even a shark selfie of the two
(a shelfie?). If that doesn’t signify BFF status, I don’t know what does.
Now, Anderson is a trained diver who has been interacting with sharks for a long time, so it’s not recommended that just anyone try to cuddle a shark. Plus, Port Jackson sharks are not known for being dangerous to humans, even when they try their darndest.
Nevertheless, this friendship might also go to show that sharks aren’t the monsters we’ve made them out to be, and there are other stories of sharks befriending humans.
Forget the bigger boat. Just give a bigger hug.