The stuff of nightmares, sharks are perhaps the most feared predators of the animal kingdom. Yet, these hunters of the deep are not just fearsome killing machines but are also, in some ways, social animals. They have ways of communicating and showing affection that many of us may not be aware of.
One remarkable woman, Cristina Zenato, nicknamed the “shark whisperer,” knows this all too well. Sharks pose little threat to her where she dives, in the Caribbean, but rather, they often swim to her when they need help from her.
It's always a decision on the part of the shark to come and lay in lap, it is also her decision how long she wants to…
Although Italian by birth, Zenato grew up in lush surrounds of the African Congo, but she learned to scuba dive in the Bahamas, where she now calls home.
Zenato has been interacting with sharks for decades. Very few people possess the special gift she has of communicating with sharks using touch.
“I absolutely love sharks,” Zenato admits.
The reef sharks she interacts with are the most common species of shark in the Caribbean, and although they don’t have a history of attacking humans, they are still considered dangerous. One of the precautions Zenato takes is wearing a chainmail suit—as sharks can have bad days, just as humans can.
In her underwater excursions, Zenato has cooperated with media such as BBC, Discovery, National Geographic, Science, and Nature, and her shark expertise has been sought after by both scientists and filmmakers.
Next time someone tells me that hooks do not affect sharks I would like to invite them on these dives and see how these…
Using a special technique, she is able to put them in a kind of hypnosis called tonic immobility. The shark is not harmed in any way, but rather, they appear to enter into a sort of ecstasy—though it’s hardly something for the inexperienced to try!
Very often, sharks arrive at Zenato’s dive site with fishing hooks embedded in their mouths, and in her interactions, she has succeeded in getting close enough to remove those painful implements of man without ever having been bitten—truly an amazing feat.
This woman sticks her hands in sharks’ mouths to help when they get caught on hooks 🦈❤️
由 The Dodo 发布于 2018年10月14日周日
Now, Zenato has a collection of over 200 hooks from her many years of helping the ocean predators.
“I’ve received some injuries on my fingers from twisting and turning of the animals trying to become free as I tug on the hook,” Zenato told USA Today. “Not to mention the hooks themselves sometimes piercing my skin.”
Yet, she has never been bitten by a shark! Zenato is keen enough to sense whether the hook can safely be removed, and some are just best left alone.
“I know each and every one of them physically but also temper-wise, who is a fast feeder, who is calm feeder, who likes to be touched, who doesn’t,” she explained.
Many call me a shark whisperer, I think I am more of a shark listener. I spend a lot of time with them, I watch them, observe how they change from day to day, from dive to dive and adapt.
“Some hooks remain lodged with the barb inside the thick skin and that takes a lot of attempts. The sharks seem to know I am trying to remove the hook but like any other animal they don’t understand pain and they tend to swim away as soon as I start to work with the hook. Then they might come back in a tight circle over and over, giving me more tries.”
The shark that she named “Foggy eye” is her favorite, she shares.
“She was a shark that had been seen on the dive regularly for a couple of years but never liked to be touched. One day she showed up with a small hook, which I removed as she swam by. Two days later she was back with a bigger hook stuck inside her mouth with only a wire sticking out of the front jaw.”
Morning kisses are always the best!Afternoon kisses are good too…Well anytime kisses are just perfect. <3 my babies
Zenato was patient, as it would likely take time to help her.
“After several tours and attempts I had been able to see that the hook was lodged inside her mouth, on the bottom. After 14 minutes of trying to relax her and touching the hook, I finally went in, up to my elbow, removed the hook and proceed to be slapped by her tail as she tried to get away from this mad woman sticking her arm half way down her mouth.”
There is nothing more beautiful than to be able to "shark myself". It is beautiful to be surrounded by these creatures…
“Since that day she has been the most ‘cuddly’ of the sharks. She started to come up to me and lay in my lap and has never stopped liking being touched,” Zenato adds.
Perhaps the sharks see Zenato as some kind of “shark dentist,” and are prepared to tolerate a bit of discomfort at the hands of this remarkable woman who is focused on helping save these creatures. As that old saying goes: “Never bite the hand that feeds you!”