Movies and other forms of media often portray sharks as dangerous, ruthless, and murderous. However, humans kill way more sharks every year than sharks kill humans. Thus, sharks are actually quite afraid of humans and the only times they attack are when they mistake a human for a marine animal.

Jim Abernethy is one of the people working towards changing people’s perceptions of sharks and other sea creatures. He has spent four decades running eco-tours to help people gain an appreciation for marine animals. While diving, he noticed a 15-foot long tiger shark that would come closer and closer each time. Eventually, he was able to pet her head and started removing the hooks that she would inevitably get in between his visits. Over time, they built up a trusting relationship and now he says that the shark, who he named “Emma,” follows him around like a labrador retriever. Abernethy calls her a “gentle giant” because she is playful and loves to get her head rubbed, just like a dog would.

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Abernethy says that his relationship with Emma and the realization of sharks’ capacity for affection was one of the best things to happen to him! He hopes to help people realize that sharks are wildly misunderstood. Sharks are not vicious killers, but rather sentient creatures that deserve love, respect, and care.

This pair has the cutest relationship! For more heartwarming animal content and friendships, check out these articles:

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