“Emma the tiger shark is my best friend”: man and sea predator have been friends for more than 20 years (6 photos + 1 video)

Category: Animals, PEGI 0+
27 May 2024

Jim lives in Palm Beach. He dives and swims with sharks, including tiger sharks. The American does not consider them aggressive animals, but rather the opposite.

Tiger sharks are also called leopard sharks. They belong to the family of gray sharks

A diver spoke about his extraordinary friendship with a 4.5-meter shark. This predatory representative of the fauna can attack at any moment, but does not do so. The driver claims that this is the kindest and very sweet creature.

“She's like a big gentle dog who just wants to play. Discovering the gentle side of sharks is one of the most wonderful things that has happened in my life,” these words belong to American photographer Jim Abernethy.

Tiger sharks are famous for their insatiable appetite. They are sometimes called cannibals. Predators can attack their smaller compatriots.

The appearance of tiger sharks is terrifying. A square, short head, large eyes, a huge mouth with sharp, blade-like teeth. The shark instantly cuts through its prey, leaving no chance of salvation. It's impossible to believe that such a creature could be affectionate, isn't it?

Tiger sharks' stomachs can clot. This allows them to “taste” food and, if necessary, get rid of it

The average tiger shark is about 4 meters long and weighs more than 350 kilograms. There are stripes on the sides. That is why it is called “tiger”.

Tiger sharks hunt at night or in the evening in murky water. Sunlight disorients them. Jim Abernethy warns about this. He says you shouldn't swim near tiger sharks in troubled waters.

Emma the tiger shark is my best friend

Photo: Jim Abernethy

Jim Abernethy and Emma met in 2001 when he pulled a fishhook out of her mouth, and they have been inseparable ever since. When Jim goes into the water at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, Emma always greets him with great joy. She swims up to him and rubs her head as a sign of affection.

Most people would not expect this kind of behavior from a fearsome 4.5 meter long sea predator that can tear a person into small pieces with one slight movement.

During the twenty years of his acquaintance with this amazing animal, Jim not only pulled fishhooks from her mouth, but also watched her pregnancy.

Selfie with friend | Photo: Jim Abernethy

Over the years of friendship, man and animal became very close. They understand each other without words - they communicate with gestures. Emma even understands quite a few commands and loves to follow them.

However, Jim warns against thinking that tiger sharks are harmless creatures. Once a shark suspects danger, smells blood or fishing gear, or thinks that the person in front of it is food, it will certainly attack, and nothing can stop it.

School of Sharks: Jim Abernethy's students meet their guest instructor Emma | Photo: Jim Abernethy

A strong, friendly relationship has developed between man and shark, which has lasted for more than 20 years. This is very surprising and touching. Every time Jim jumps into the water, the shark “in full sail” rushes to his rescuer and sweetly greets him with his “nose”.

Emma tries her best to please her friend, massages her head with her fins, faithfully, like a dog, swims next to him.

Jim also “dotes” on his shark. Affectionately calls her “supermodel” and photographs from different angles.

Jim Abernethy

“Emma is like a Labrador who comes to her owner and climbs onto his sofa, completely relaxed and calm. In fact, she is very gentle, affectionate, and reasonable. As if not a cannibal monster, but a domestic dog or cat” - Jim Abernethy.

Jim communicates with his shark friends 320 days a year. He wrote and published the book "Sharks Up Close", which became quite popular and its sales continue to grow. This can only mean one thing - there will be even more people who get to know the real side of sharks.

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