Hungry sharks come close enough to divers for a belly rub
White tipped sharks are sleek and beautiful animals that live in many waters around the world. These sharks make their home in Papua New Guinea, patrolling the tall pillars that rose from underwater volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The sharks feed on the smaller fish that make their home around the rocky ledges and the coral that grows on them.
A group of scuba divers have entered the ocean to study the sharks and gather photographs and video footage of their feeding behaviour. Understanding the sharks is a crucial first step in helping with their conservation. Using scraps of fish, the sharks are encouraged to come closer for a close up view. This will help the researchers to observe and record injuries, parasites, growth rates, and other important data. The bait does its job and the sharks show very little shyness. Some even come close enough that they could literally receive a belly rub. There is a strict hands off policy here though, as physically interacting with the animal life is usually irresponsible.
As we see though, sometimes the sharks do not obey these rules. One shark was engaging in what is known as testing behaviour. White tips will bump a diver, or other prey, to see what the reaction will be. Anything that is regarded as a submissive or fearful reaction will encourage a more aggressive follow up, with potentially serious consequences. It is advisable to demonstrate that the shark will not be allowed to bite without challenge. This researcher does exactly what an experienced and confident scuba diver will do and she shows the shark that she will not allow a bite.
Although touching the sharks is to be avoided at all costs, this is a definite exception. The shark was not injured in any way and the strike would not cause pain. A shark's nose is tough enough that it would barely feel the impact of a human punch. But the message was clear and the shark abruptly turned in a different direction.
See these incredible animals close enough to touch never gets old. It also demonstrates how sharks will rarely attack a human with the intent to bite, unless the human acts fearfully or irresponsibly.