A Shark Encounter

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Why are we so afraid of sharks?

I have been fortunate enough to have experienced so many incredible encounters with sharks over the years. Sometimes these experiences are deep below the ocean waves, as I descend into the blue in order to interact with the sharks in their natural habit. Sometimes they are chance encounters, such as in this photograph captured in the Maldives when I stubbled across a baby shark feeding in the shallow waters at sunrise. Either way, every experience with a shark is special.

Sharks are so perfectly adapted for their environment, so elegant in their movement, it is hard to think about a more beautiful creature. Any yet they still seem to invoke primitive feelings of dread and apprehension in humans, when just the mention of a shark is enough to bring on a real sense of fear.

Why?

Their fierce some reputation is so undeserved. Despite the attention grabbing headlines, sharks are far less likely to cause serious injury - or worse - than falling coconuts. And yet, how many of will happily wander beneath a coconut tree without ever giving it a second thought. Worse still, this undeserved reputation has real life consequences for the shark population. Every day, tens of thousands of sharks are killed by people believing they are ridding the world of one of the great killers of the ocean, when in reality we are the very greatest of killers on our planet.

But fortunately things are starting to change. Over the past few years, as we have learned more about these world around us, we are slowing beginning to realise the important role creatures such as sharks play in maintaining the delicate balance of the planet. I just hope that change of opinion doesn’t come too late - otherwise future generations will never be able to experience the wonder of their own shark encounter.