Sometimes a scuba diver needs to be assertive when dealing with aggressive or overly curious sharks. They are not cuddly creatures and their world is divided into two categories: Things to eat and things to try to eat. This diver didn’t want to let the shark get close enough to her face for a bite and she bopped it on the snout with all the speed and grace of a pro boxer. It worked and the shark took off without incident. Sharks are fascinating creatures that live in almost all oceans. They are greatly feared and seriously misunderstood. Often, they are villainized due to their reputation as being cold-blooded killers. The truth is that they are a vital part of our ecosystem and essential to the health of the planet, but it is also true that they can be dangerous and unforgiving. In recent years, scuba divers have become more comfortable with sharks and they seek close up encounters to observe these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. This kind of activity is not without risk and understanding the behaviour of the sharks is crucial to staying safe. These divers entered the water in Papua, New Guinea and descended to 70 feet on a reef that is known to have silvertip sharks. They perched on a ledge and tucked themselves in to watch the sharks swimming around the reef. Sharks will often approach scuba divers to inspect them and make a decision about whether they are potential food, or whether they have food. Slow passes are not a cause for alarm, but these divers knew that when sharks angle their pectoral fins down, swim more quickly, and approach with abrupt turns, they are becoming agitated. Sharks will often bump other animals or humans with their noses to see what the reaction will be. Referred to as “test bumps”, these approaches should not go unchallenged. These divers knew that letting a shark bump them can lead to a test bite and that can lead to disaster. Dave was recording the sharks with his GoPro and Kristy was doing the same, perched to his left. He followed the approach of one of the sharks that was heading right for Kristy. The shark abruptly changed course and angled down at her, heading toward her face. Instinctively, Kristy bopped the shark on the face and let out a squeal of surprise. The silvertip turned abruptly and cruised past as Kristy watched in amazement. Wide-eyed, Kristy looked at Dave and let out another exclamation that can be heard through the regulator. The look on her face says it all. She has a mix of disbelief that the shark would dare try to get in her face, and a look of pride that she stood up to a beast with so many teeth. Either way, Kristy’s husband Dave suddenly felt just a little safer with her around. Kristy is fearless and it’s no surprise that she would have the guts to pop a shark on the snout. The shark was obviously not harmed in this “altercation” and the bop on the snout merely surprised it and deterred it from going any further.
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