Adventures with tiger sharks
- By Richard Branson -
- Sep 28, 2012
Back from swimming with tiger sharks, lemon sharks and reef sharks in the Bahamas. The tiger shark is the most cautious of sharks, with tons of personality. So majestic, very graceful and incredibly powerful.
You soon get over the fear of sharks by spending time with them. You realise that they are not interested in you whatsoever as far as food is concerned. In fact, an average of just five people per year are killed by sharks and that’s because they mistake you for something else. To put that in perspective, an estimated 24,000 people get killed by lightning each year and 240,000 injured, according to Holle and López 2003 study.
I had tiger sharks coming right up to my face and just gently pushed them away. The Captain of the ship used a pair of pliers to try to extract fishing hooks out of the tiger sharks mouths. on this occasion unsuccessfully. As the tiger sharks swam off with the pliers!
Obviously a tiger shark can be dangerous - it can bite a person in half with its very powerful serrated teeth. However, if people can get the film Jaws out of their mind they will be fine. We wore black so that they didn’t mistake us for prey. I had some of my hair showing outside of my hat. The sharks would swoop down and look, thinking it was a small fish, but then swim away.
In the one area we were swimming with 30 sharks, tiger sharks, lemon sharks and reef sharks. The reason that sea life is so rich around the Bahamas is that the government has created nature reserves and the sharks are protected. The reason I spend time swimming with sharks is to draw attention to the plight of the sharks worldwide, where one and a half million sharks are being slaughtered every week for their fins.
To keep a balance in the oceans we have to do everything we can to stop this. Also to enable people to enjoy the sheer beauty of these magnificent creatures that have existed in the oceans for over 450 million years.
Images by Shaun Heinrichs
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group