Shark that loves hugs forms bond with diver

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY — Sharks are a vi­tal part of the ma­rine ecosys­tem, of­ten thought to be dan­ger­ous and deadly crea­tures, but for Aus­tralian diver Rick Anderson, they are good friends.

Nes­tled in the pris­tine beaches of Aus­tralian tourist town Port Mac­quarie, Anderson, the owner of Rick’s Div­ing School, has made an un­likely friend in a shark that was born close to one of his fre­quent div­ing spots a few years ago.

Anderson said on Thurs­day that his re­la­tion­ship with his “true di­nosaur” friend be­gan at birth when he spot­ted a group of new­born sharks.

“I came across some fresh hatched ones pok­ing around on the bot­tom, I ap­proached one just to show my dive stu­dents that were with me at the time,” he said.

“I had it sit­ting on my hand, pat­ting her and scratch­ing her, and that went on for a cou­ple of months be­cause I saw her fairly reg­u­larly.”

This un­usual re­la­tion­ship be­tween the ex­pe­ri­enced div­ing in­struc­tor, and his bull­head shark friend — known for their large, blunt heads — con­tin­ued as he would reg­u­larly visit her as she grew.

“I would see her around that par­tic­u­lar reef, and she be­came more and more fa­mil­iar with me to the point where she would come up for a cuddle of her own ac­cord,” Anderson said.

The city of Port Mac­quarie at­tracts thou­sands of tourists ev­ery year who come to see the beaches and lo­cal at­trac­tions, and Anderson said that vis­i­tors to the area can also get up close and per­sonal with his 1.7-me­ter-long friend.

“She comes to me, she will swim past other divers to come to me for a bit of a cuddle first, but once I’ve given her a scratch or a pat she is quite happy to be passed over to some­one else to give her a pat, or even a cuddle,” he said.

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