Ocean Ramsey, a marine conservationist has captured stunning photographs of her close encounter with a huge great white shark — and landed in hot water with other researchers as a result.
Conservationist Ocean Ramsey swam beside the shark and placed her hand on its back and people are not happy.
Dr David Shiffman says "This photo is wildlife harassment from a serial wildlife harasser. There is absolutely no reason for this person to grab and attempt to ride a free-swimming animal. It doesn’t show that sharks aren’t dangerous, it shows that some humans make bad choices."
Dr Domeier also used posts on Instagram to criticise Ms Ramsey for touching the animal and posing for photos, saying it could be damaging for the shark, which might be pregnant, and also send the wrong message to other divers.
"The number 1 rule of legitimate shark diving operators is DON'T TOUCH THE SHARKS! This is not shark advocacy … it is selfish, self-promotion," he said.
Dr Domeier said these sharks spend almost their entire 18-month gestation period in deep offshore waters where food is "very, very scarce".
Mr Domeier said the actions sent a dangerous message even though the shark in this instance had recently been feeding and was unlikely to bite.
Aloha Scuba Diving Company posted footage of the encounter that showed Ms Ramsey twice swimming beside the shark and resting her hand on it, while many other scuba divers swam nearby.
The company defended Ms Ramsey as "a highly qualified shark advocate" who "has studied them for years".
On Instagram, Ms Ramsey said she knew some people would criticise her, "but what some don't realise is that sometimes sharks seek touch".
"I wish more people would have a connection with sharks and the natural world, because then they would understand that it's not petting sharks or pushing them off to maintain a respectable space that is hurting sharks … it's the wasteful and cruel practice of grabbing and catching sharks to cut off their fins."
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