Love the One You're With

by Tamra Werner

Shelters take in all kinds of strays. Some stray dogs crave attention, and others come with emotional issues and are afraid of humans. Rescue centers have foster families that slowly work with the abandoned animals teaching them good manners and trust. We have all seen the videos of a scared dog tied to a post underfed and defensive who transforms into a happy family dog after a little love and training. Did you ever think sharks could be underwater stray dogs?

Touch is therapeutic. It helps premature babies thrive, and people pay a lot of money to get massages. So maybe sharks are no different. We don’t go to shelters looking for pet sharks, but scientists and divers have made friends with sharks petting them like little dogs.


Shark conservationist Jim Abernethy believes that sharks are like dogs. After gaining the trust of a few tiger sharks, he started to pet the top of their heads. Interestingly, the sharks leaned into his hands and came back for more. Abernethy saw how sharks respond to and crave affection.

Sharks have tiny pores in their skin called Ampullae of Lorenzini. These mucus-filled pores are electroreceptors that detect changes in water temperature, sense electric and magnetic fields, and are sensitive to touch. Each ampulla contains a layer of electrically excitable receptor cells. Ampulla may explain why sharks respond favorably to touch. Like the stray dog in the kennel corner, shark dispositions change with love and affection.

Nature has shown us that animals and humans respond positively to touch. Despite the apex reputation, even sharks like affection. We can learn from this. If someone appears to be the Grinch in disguise, they might feel like the stray dog or shark waiting to be loved. Remember, looks can be deceiving so, love the one you’re with.


SharkBytes wishes you and your family a healthy, safe, and loving holiday.

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