I just stumbled across this three minute, somewhat-unnerving-yet-deeply-moving video of Christina Zenato, a woman diver, interacting with sharks down in the Bahamas. Frankly, I didn’t believe this kind of gentle relationship was even possible and yet here it is anyway. Sometimes it feels so good to be wrong.
Disclaimer: Evidently she’s a pro, so I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home.
What fascinated me most was what happened in my brain while I watched. I swear I could feel it rewiring. Some deep and unquestioned prejudice against sharks took a hit here. Big time.
(Which was strange, because I thought I was already fairly enlightened in my attitude toward sharks. The hubster feels a deep affinity for them and his love for them has rubbed off on me over time, so it was surprising to discover these deep underlying layers of stereotype still lurking in the shadowy recesses of my mind.)
Initially, I admit I thought this woman was an idiot, especially when she started feeding them by hand. But by the end I realized she has a much fuller understanding of sharks than I do, based on actual, nourishing, beautiful and real life interactions with them. Something I totally lack…which is probably why my bias has thrived.
Prejudice is funny that way, isn’t it? It feeds on unfamiliarity. It doesn’t tend to fare as well when faced with living, breathing, sentient beings.
(Stray thought: Believing in stereotypes is like eating cheap carbs. They’re like white bread, candy, and soda pop for the mind, not very healthy but what a rush! Relationships with living, flesh and blood creatures, on the other hand, are more like whole grains; harder and slower to digest but far more nourishing in the long run.)
Once again I’m reminded that all creatures tend to respond positively to understanding, patience, respect, and intelligent handling. I don’t know why I keep falling back into the default belief that some creatures (including some humans) are impervious to kindness and love…that monsters are real. That kind of early conditioning is hard to shake I guess.
The video is only a couple minutes long. If you get the chance I highly recommend it. It’s soothing and inspiring.
About the technique she employs at the end of the video: “Practicing a little known technique of rubbing and manipulating her fingers across the ampullae of Lorenzini, the visible dots [electro-receptive sensory organs] all around a shark’s head and face, she induces a tonic immobility. To the observer, this looks like a shark falling asleep right in her lap.”
copyright Dia Osborn 2011