Saturday, October 06, 2007

An Encounter with a Tiger Shark


Since this is an Animal Behavior class I think that it would be fitting to share an observation I personally made about an animal. Sharks have always been notorious predators and by far the species in the ocean that humans fear the most. Clearly their reputation has long changed since the 1970's and the "Jaws" era. Still, many fail to understand their nature and the fact that we humans are entering their habitat. Whenever a shark attack happens it is an unfortunate incident. However, it is also unfortunate that we humans drive so many of their species into the list of endangered species.

Scuba diving has been a passion of mine for some four years now. I personally feel that being underwater and not in my "natural" environment is something very exciting. But still as I got progressively better I started seeking new thrills. And one of the biggest thrills one could have while diving is a shark encounter. Luckily for me I have been able to have quite a few shark encounters since I started diving. A few of these encounters aren't so exciting such as one with a nurse shark or a sand tiger sharks. But on occasions I have been able to encounter bigger fish such as reef sharks of the keys in Florida, and the encounter I'm about to describe when I came across a tiger shark in Brazil.

Tiger sharks have long had the reputation of eating anything they come across. A wide number of man made objects has been found on a tiger shark's digestive tract. These objects range from license plates to baseballs.

Around the world of scuba diving many suggest that if you come across a tiger shark you should immediately proceed in leaving the area. I pretty sure I would have done such a thing when I came across one if I had time to react. I was 17 when I started diving and my encounter with a tiger shark came on my 3rd dive ever. I was off the Northern coast in Brazil diving along a reef. Making a common mistake that beginners make I saw low near the bottom and always looking straight down. All the sudden I realized that there was a tiger shark swimming directly above me. The shark must have been about 12ft long and was swimming about 10-20ft away from me (too close for comfort at that time).

The shark was clearly following me and my dive buddy but it never approached us. This massive animal swam slowly just tagging along. It must have been with us for about three minutes (although it felt like ten). Initially I was very scared, since the shark was above me I kept on thinking about how I would try to surface. We made our way back to the boat along the bottom but soon we became comfortable with the presence of the shark.

It was surely a beautiful animal, its nose was broad and although it did swim with its mouth open its teeth weren't that much exposed. Its belly was very much like a barrel, wide and bulky. And as expected due to its name, it had beautiful stripes. I often wondered what made the shark act the way it did.. Why was it following us from such a small distance? I figured that in part it may have been due to curiosity. As with any other fish I feel that sharks are attracted by the air bubbles but still very skeptical. One can always get closer to any fish while holding their breath. But this was not the case for this specific shark. It seemed fairly comfortable being around the bubbles. I can't be positive of how long the shark was with us before I spotted it. Still, i doubt that the shark saw us as potential prey. Our size alone makes us a very unattractive meal for the shark. But the possibility does exist that this shark may have seen us as food and then made the assessment that we were too dangerous to prey on. If so I don't the shark would have stuck around for so long.

Since then every shark I came up across seemed fairly harmless. They seem to respect divers even though we are at their territory. I see no reason for why one would see them as mindless creatures and I wish we showed them the same respect.

Bruno Karam (2)

4 Comments:

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Scotty Fay said...

Awesome Blog! I love how you related it to your own passion of scuba diving. This blog was extremeley interesting and very well written. There were a couple of grammatical errors. In the second paragraph I would change some to for about. In the fourth paragraph I needs to be changed to I'm. Also in the fourth paragraph, "I saw low near...", that needs to be fixed.
This was a very interesting topic. Good job!!

 
At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome blog!! I loved how you related it to your passion of scuba diving. Your blog was very interesting and well written.
There were however, a few grammatical errors. In The second paragraph, I would change "for some" to for about. In the fourth paragraph, I needs to be I'm. Also in the fourth paragrpah, "I saw low near..." needs to be fixed.
Just check your blog through once more and it will be perfect!
Really good job on the topic and the writing!

Posted By: Scotty Fay (2)

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Awesome blog!! I loved how you related it to your passion of scuba diving. Your blog was very interesting and well written.
There were however, a few grammatical errors. In The second paragraph, I would change "for some" to for about. In the fourth paragraph, I needs to be I'm. Also in the fourth paragrpah, "I saw low near..." needs to be fixed.
Just check your blog through once more and it will be perfect!
Really good job on the topic and the writing!

Posted by: Scotty Fay (2)

 
At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharks have always been one of my biggest fears but in the same weird way i am so fascinated by them. I read everything that i come across about sharks so of course i am excited to comment on this blog. I agree that there were some minor grammar mistakes, but everything else was perfect. I really enjoy hearing the first hand animal behavior accounts. great job!

-Caitlin Sanders

 

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