On the weekend my mum tossed me in to a tank full of sharks. But I’m not surprised… it’s not like it’s the first time she’s done it. Although it is the first time she’s tossed my friends in after me.
But don’t worry, she’s not insane… well not very. It was my 8th birthday present and we all wanted to go swimming with sharks – she just made it happen. You see, instead of just seeing the sharks at Sydney Aquarium we got to swim with them on a shark reef snorkel. In their actual tank.
Now swimming with sharks sounds scarier than it is for two reasons. The first reason is that we were kind of like the sharks pet goldfish because we were in a glass bowl inside their 2 million-litre tank and they were looking at us like we were the exhibit.
Because of the glass they couldn’t nibble on us but we could still swim right alongside them. The second reason is that it’s a big fat myth that sharks are all really dangerous to people. Most of them aren’t.
It was a totally epic experience to share the water with reef sharks, critically endangered sawfish and a massive leopard shark.
It was also awesome to learn about sharks and their ecosystem from Jason, the cool dude who looks after the sharks at the Aquarium.
Here are six things I learned from swimming with sharks that I want to share with you all;
- There are around 440 known breeds of shark and only four are dangerous to man. The Great White, The Tiger Shark, The Bull Shark and the Oceanic White Tip Shark. The rest of them are just like cuddly underwater teddy bears… with sharp pointy teeth!
- Reef dwelling sharks are actually kind of lazy for predators and hunt sick fish because they are easy prey. So unless you look like a dying fish or squid you should be fine if you ever bump into one on the street. Mind you if you look like a squid you’ve got bigger things to worry about than sharks.
- Some sharks sleep by switching off half their brain and using the other half to keep filtering water through their gills. That’s something mum sometimes accuses me of doing when I’m watching TV. The half a brain thing… not the gills.
- Sharks inhabited the earth 200 million years before the dinosaurs and have hardly changed since. So while we’ve all been busy evolving, they’ve just been hanging around sharpening their teeth and scoffing fish. Slackers. Don’t tell them I said that…
- Sharks have amazing hearing. They can hear a fish in the water as far as 500 metres away. So you can bet they heard me and my noisy friends coming.
- This is the most important thing I learned. For every human killed by a shark, two million sharks are killed by humans.
Sharks have an important place in the ocean ecosystem and we should treat them with the respect they deserve. I’m not suggesting you should go and cuddle one… just that everyone needs to remember that it’s THEIR ocean.
Written by Raffles – Aged 8
The shark reef snorkel experience was independently paid for.