Friendships can form in the most unlikely of places.
Just ask Australian scuba instructor Rick Anderson, who bonded with a baby Port Jackson shark and has remained her mate for the past 11 years.
The diver, who once lived in Port Macquarie, shared about the remarkable relationship with The Epoch Times: “I used to see her most weeks but now as I have moved 5 hours away it has been about a year since I last saw her.”
He recently moved five hours north, to the Gold Coast.
“I first met my Port Jackson shark friend 11 years ago while teaching dive students,” he explained. “On the dive, I noticed a number of freshly hatched Port Jackson sharks swimming around—they’re about 6 inches long at this stage and grow to just under 6 feet.
“I slowly approached one and tried to coax her onto my hand, it took a little while but I was successful and began patting her, my students were amazed.”
Oddly, as the Port Jackson shark grew, she would still recognize Rick while he was on his dives, even as the years passed.
“This went on regularly when I dive in the area for weeks, months, and now years,” he said. “Whenever I dive the reef, she is on when she notices me, she will swim over for a pat and cuddle.
“Over the years we have grown quite comfortable with each other to the point of if I don’t notice her, she will swim up past other divers and tap my legs or shoulder until I turn around and hold my arms out.”
Port Jackson sharks are a bottom-dwelling shark that eat crustaceans and shellfish, Rick said. They produce babies in eggs which they twist into the reef, and they have changed very little since the time of the dinosaurs. Sharks are often misconceived and falsely portrayed in movies as “mindless killers.”
It’s often the other way around; some 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year, while human fatalities caused by sharks are statistically insignificant, numbering less than 10, a 2018 study reported.
(Courtesy of Rick Anderson)
The scuba instructor recently reminisced about his old friend, posting a video of one of their cuddly reunions on Ricks Dive School Facebook page.
“My little mate,” he captioned. “I do miss diving with her regularly now that I’m on the Gold Coast.”
Speaking of his “mate,” Rick added: “She is a beautiful animal and it has been great to share our bond with others to show that sharks are just trying to live their lives as we would like to live ours.
“People are amazed at the bond I have with this beautiful shark.”