I watched a documentary recently that really hit home, it was concerning a photographer that had some incredible photos and footage of interaction with what we consider dangerous species of animals. Through mythology and popular culture both, many species on this planet have been ‘demonized’ and through this perception, the plights of these species have reached critical states. Sharks and rhinos are 2 in particular that have been deemed vicious killers.
This documentary showed a photographer that took a gentle approach to his interaction with large predatory sharks, by taking a full month in developing a relationship and trust with them. He would initially stay back at a safe level and quietly observe. Each day he would feed them and allow them to become more curious, bringing them closer to his location each day. Eventually after a steady pattern had been established he geared up and dove down in with the sharks, again at a safe distance and after feeding them and simply allowed for them to react. The sharks moved closer and closer each subsequent day and eventually he was nose to nose with them.
It was at this point, with the nuzzle of a shark directly in front of him that he decided to reach out gently and touch the shark’s nose. The shark pulled slightly back and then again came up close in curiosity. This photographer then felt it was safe to pet him and began to gently stroke his nose with his hand. Imagine the intensity, the energy of that exchange with such a large creature! Each subsequent day he followed the same routine but now more and more sharks were approaching him for this gentle exchange. His relationship deepened to a level that he was able to remove hooks embedded within their mouths and jaws, plastics tangled along their fins and more, all without any restraint.
Worldwide statistics show the reality of dangerous interactions today:
- 75 people are bitten by sharks each year with less than 5 dying from it. It is important to note that sharks and whales have been driven closer and closer inland each year from the sound waves sent out by oil companies which travel across ocean floor and are deafening to these larger species. They move away from the sound which forces them to shallower waters.
- 12 people die each year from vending machine incidents.
- 135 people die each year from deer related accidents.
- 20 people die each year from cow related incidents.
- 1600 people bite other people in the state of New York alone each year
Sharks are powerful, elegant and wild. They are unfamiliar with a gentle approach and by changing our perception, we change our interaction. A beautiful exchange can result. What misconceptions do we hold that can be explored and perhaps revealing a complete different and more expansive understanding? The opportunity is vast.