Ocean Ramsey doesn’t ride on top of great white sharks for fun or frivolous show. She does it to dispel their image of cruel killing machines, to call attention to the fact that sharks are seriously endangered. Which really sucks, because they’re crucial for the sustainability of the oceans and, therefore, our own species.
Like with wolves and other large predators, our image of sharks is deformed by irrational fear and hate. The fear is rooted on rumour — scattered news that get amplified and deformed as they are retold again and again. These obscure stories make us anthropomorphise these animals. We give them human qualities and emotions — like cruelty and anger — giving them motive and turning them into thinking monsters akin to psychopaths. And once they are like us, we can hate them.
But the fact is that the only thing sharks are trying to do is survive, contributing to the trophic pyramid that is the base and covenant of all life on Earth. Without them, that pyramid would collapse. Instead of hating and hunting them — based on the stupid thought that this our Earth — what we should do is get out of their way.
How can she swim with sharks without being attacked?
It’s pretty simple: Ramsey is an expert diver, a surfer and a shark conservationist who understands the behaviour of these animals and respects them and their habitat. In her own words:
I’m not advising that people go out and just jump in to the water with White sharks or Tigers or other large species, just as I wouldn’t recommend jumping into a yard with a strange dog. Sharks do need to be respected as wild animals and appreciated for their role as top predators in the ocean ecosystem. My shark experiences have all been positive in part because while I know sharks are not mindless man-eaters, I simultaneously have respect for their capabilities, a lot of experience interacting with animals and reading body language, behaviour, and I am comfortable with my own water abilities while also trusting my dive partner. Given the number of surfers and swimmers who frequent shark territory in low visibility often dressed in black wetsuits or floating on surfboards portraying a seal-like silhouette, it is a huge testament to sharks sensory systems and intelligence that mistaken identity bites “attacks” are so rare. Like many animals, individual sharks display different dispositions and personalities or temperaments and not all are comfortable with or interested in interaction with humans.
Ocean is also a free diver who is capable holding her breath for five minutes and seven seconds.
You can listen more about this and other shark issues in this video, which has really awesome footage of her swimming with these animals:
Ocean Ramsey with a tiger shark.
To learn more about shark conservationism and Ocean, go here.