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Pet a shark you say?

Shark conservation comes in many forms. The beautiful thing about shark conservationist is they express their love for and need to save sharks in a variety ways that translates to personal forms of expression.

Take for example, cage diving. Most cage diving companies at first glance may seem like a tourist industry that is exploitive by nature when in reality it consist of shark lovers looking to bring individuals face-to-face with these misunderstood creatures resulting in an everlasting impression on their guests thereby creating shark lover for life.

Admittedly, I used to be one of the people that shunned the practice because I only saw the money making tourist industry and not the education aspect of cage diving. That was until I read about Scuba Adventures out of West Palm, Fl.

Scuba Adventures is unique in that a dive with sharks is done without a cage. Yes, you actually swim with sharks. One might wonder how that is possible without getting eaten. Simply, sharks are not the horrible predators Hollywood has made them out to be.

Jim Abernethy, who owns and operates Scuba Adventures, has been a pioneer in shark interaction without a cage. At a young age, scuba diving acted as Abernethy’s inspiration for his life’s mission as a conservationist and has enabled him to interact with some of the most notorious sharks: tiger, great hammerhead, oceanic white tip, bull and lemon sharks. Over the many years of shark interaction, Abernathy has learned that sharks are actually affectionate creatures he would compare to cats and dogs.

What is most striking about his interactions with sharks, Abernethy has learned that in addition to being affectionate, these sharks actually respond to hand signals. In one particular instance video footage reveals a tiger shark, named Hanna Tiger, coming back repeatedly to have its nose rubbed. This shark was not motivated by food, rather by the desire for love and affection.

Abernethy begins each dive with a shark dive briefing where he explains, “The role of the shark in the ecosystem is to remove the dead, dying, diseased and dumb.” If humans can just be smart about how they interact with sharks, they would quickly learn that sharks are not to be feared. Through his endless work with some of the top filmmakers and magazines such as Imax, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, Abernethy has been able to help capture on film the true nature of these sharks and it is not a frightful sight.

Abernethy’s power in shark conservation efforts is his unique ability to bring divers up close to some of the world’s largest predatory sharks and turn them into strong passionate ambassadors to the sharks rather than fear or eat these needed beautiful animals.

Abernethy shows us that it takes a variety of conservations efforts to raise awareness to the importance of sharks in our world. Check out his website and you too will be touched with his relentless pursuit of his life mission to save the planet’s ocean creatures. And the best part he starts with sharks.

Jim Abernethy Scuba Adventures can be found at

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