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Shark And Local Diver Become Best Friends (Photos)

| by Lauren Briggs
a scuba diver underwatera scuba diver underwater

A diver and a shark have become unlikely but adorable friends.

"Most divers seeing this for the first time can't believe it," scuba diver Rick Anderson told The Dodo. "I don't feed her or any of the other sharks I play with -- I basically treat them like I would a dog."

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According to Anderson, he has known the 6-foot Port Jackson shark for years. She's easy to recognize based on her markings, he explained.

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"I started playing with her about seven years ago when she was just a pup about 6 inches long," Anderson said. "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."

Experts say that Port Jackson sharks do not pose much of a threat to humans, although their bites can be painful, and the spines on their dorsal fins are venomous, notes Australian Museum.

"The biggest misconception about sharks is that they are all mindless killers lying in wait for people to enter the water so they can be devoured," the Australian veteran diver explained to The Dodo.

The diving school instructor has also been in the water with larger sharks of ill repute, including great whites, bull sharks, tiger sharks and hammerheads.

"I have always felt comfortable swimming with these animals," he said.

Indeed, far more sharks are killed annually by humans hungry for their fins than the relatively small amount of sharks who harm swimmers.

But like any semi-sensible person swimming with giant, powerful predators able to rip humans limb from limb with one bite, Anderson doesn't exactly go in for a cuddle with a great white the way he does when he says hello to his unnamed docile friend, who frequents areas Nobbys Beach in New South Wales, Australia. 

Every time they see each other, she recognizes him right away, he said.

"I [interacted with the shark] each time in the first season she was here," he continued. "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."

Sources: Shareably, The Dodo, Australian Museum / Photo Credit: catsdhika/Pixabay, Shareably

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