Two years ago, artist, author, and conservationist Jim Abernathy removed three hooks from Tarantino, a tiger shark. All this time later she still remembers the kindness he showed her.

Abernathy could hardly contain his joy when he saw his old friend, jumping in front of his camera to pet and show affection to the shark. After realizing that he was starting to get carried away by the current, he swims back toward his camera, but Tarantino is following closely behind. Around 45 seconds into the video, we can see Tarantino swim right into his arms.

Sharks remain one of the most misunderstood animals. Typically viewed as bloodthirsty and violent, for most it is extremely shocking to see a human fearlessly get so up close and personal with one. But Tarantino shows the side of sharks we don’t often see from the media; a gentle and loving one. 

Of course, Abernathy is a professional and this is not to say we should ever approach sharks ourselves, but we should consider the brutal cruelty imposed on sharks in an effort to keep them away from humans. In reality, the odds of being attacked by a shark are about one in 3.7 million, while humans kill nearly 100 million sharks per year. With those odds, sharks are the ones who should be fearful. 

The killing is often done through finning, where the sharks’ fins are mercilessly sliced off and they are dropped back into the ocean, sometimes still alive, and float to the bottom of the sea where they will eventually die. Shark fins are seen as valuable to many and can sell at up to $500 a pound. They are historically significant in Chinese culture and used for the popular shark fin soup. While efforts have been made to reduce shark finning like campaigns against shark fin soup, the sale of shark fins perseveres. 

There is hope for sharks if we begin to see them as living creatures instead of a commodity. We should take steps to educate ourselves about the horrors humans have inflicted on sharks and how we can do better. You can also speak up for sharks, by signing this petition asking Congress to Pass the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act! 

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