Shark Whisperers

People who want to catch big game fish use big game fishing rods, sharp hooks and wire leader, right?

Not if you happen to be one of a select group of so called, ‘shark whisperers’; people who love to rub noses with sharp fanged predators.

Why do they do it? We thought we’d look into it.

Great White Hitcher

With a name like Ocean Ramsey, it’s no surprise to discover that the girl enjoys snorkelling, but she takes ‘swimming with the fishes’ to whole new depths. The Hawaiian often dives to photograph sharks, but while for most of us the prospect of coming nose to fin with the scariest shark of all would fill us with fear, she describes the experience of meeting a great white like this:

“It’s difficult to express the incredible joy and breathtaking emotion experienced locking eyes with a Great White.”

Hmmm, if you say so, Ocean. As it happens, there is method to Ocean Ramsey’s madness. Just like Sara Benes, she is passionate about spreading awareness of the destruction of this vital component of the marine ecosystem. All the same, we think you’ll agree, this footage of Ocean catching a lift with a Great White, is frankly terrifying!

Hooked on Sharks

Would you willingly put your entire arm into a shark’s mouth? We wouldn’t either but here’s another ‘shark whisperer’ who not only would, but has actually done just that! Cristina Zenato is a shark woman of some renown, and here she is delving into the jaws of well…jaws, to remove a hook buried there. Despite a wriggle of irritation, the shark lets Cristina pull the hook free without even attempting to bite her.

Think there’s something a little fishy about this? Well you might just be right because the Italian-born diver is not quite the risk taker she appears to be.

Zenato first rubs the shark’s snout lulling it into a trance like state by over-stimulating the “ampullae of Lorenzini”, jelly filled pores – electroreceptors – the fish uses to detect its prey. Only when lulled does the diver actually put her hand into the shark’s mouth, and even then, we must point out, she’s wearing an armoured wetsuit. Sensible lady.

14-year-old Shark Whisperer

Two Caribbean Reef Sharks

Image source: Shane Gross
Sara Brenes has set up a charity to protect sharks in the wild.

Sara Brenes was just 14 years old when she first dived with sharks. And she so fell in love with them, she said she felt, “like they were my babies, like puppies almost.” It’s an interesting take on what is after all an apex predator with teeth designed for shredding flesh, but nevertheless, with the help of her family, Sara was inspired to set up, Shark Whisperer, a charity that helps spread awareness of the plight of sharks in the wild.

Regardless of whether it’s wise to trust a shark not to turn you from a ‘whisperer’ into ‘lunch’, Miss Brenes does have a valid point. Sharks are persecuted the world over and they’re being killed in frightening numbers, mainly for their fins which fetch big bucks in Asian markets where they’re the prized ingredient in shark fin soup.