Rick Anderson must put on an oxygen tank, insert a regulator into his mouth, and plunge into the water off the shore of Nobbys Beach in New South Wales, Australia, to see his pal.
Anderson has a 6-foot female Port Jackson shark as a buddy. Anderson recognizes her by her marks, even though she doesn’t have a name.
Anderson claims that she always recognizes him.
“I started playing with her when she was about 6 inches long, around seven years ago,” Anderson explained. “I approached her slowly so as not to startle her, then softly patted her. I’d cradle her in my palm and whisper soothingly to her through my regulator after she’d gotten used to me.”
“In the first season she was here, I did this every time,” he explained. “Over the seasons, she began to remember me and would swim up to me for a touch and a snuggle. She quickly became used to me, to the point that she will swim up to me and tap my legs until I stretch my arms out for her to lie on for a cuddle as I pass by.”
“Most first-time divers can’t believe what they’re seeing,” he continued. “I don’t feed her or any of the other sharks I play with; I treat them as if they were dogs.”
Although Port Jackson sharks are far smaller than great white sharks, any shark can elicit dread, especially because sharks are frequently misrepresented in the media as being deadly to humans. People, on the other hand, are significantly more hazardous to sharks, with an estimated 73 million sharks killed each year
Anderson, who has been scuba diving for over 30 years and owns a dive school, thinks that his connection with the Port Jackson shark would help others become less afraid of sharks.
“The most common misunderstanding about sharks is that they are all mindless murderers waiting for humans to enter the ocean so they may be consumed,” Anderson added.
Anderson dives with a variety of sharks, including banjo sharks, grey nurse sharks, tiger sharks, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks, and even the occasional great white shark.
“I have always felt comfortable swimming with these animals,” he said.
Anderson is always willing to snuggle a shark, and even after all these years, his pal, the Port Jackson, can’t seem to get enough of him.