Curious sharks surround scuba divers as they explore the reef

Reef sharks are large, magnificent animals that patrol the waters as if they are king. In many areas, these Caribbean reef sharks are the top predators and undeniable bosses in this underwater world. The times when there is an occasional presence of bull sharks or great hammerheads are the only exceptions. With powerful jaws and formidable teeth, these sharks are feared by many and they have the reputation as vicious, killing machines. But the truth is far less ominous than many believe. These scuba divers have entered the water to photograph and document fish, sea turtles, octopus, and other marine life. The sharks have arrived, curious about any possible opportunity for a free meal. The scuba divers know that they are not seen as food by the sharks and they continue their business without concern. Unprovoked attacks on humans by almost any of the shark species are extremely rare, and also easily avoided. Reef sharks are scavengers and opportunistic feeders. They prey on the sick and the dying, which is why they are essential to the overall health of the reef and the delicate ecosystems that exist here. Without them, populations of many animals would go unchecked and they would in turn affect the populations of the animals that they feed on. Nature consists of a complex web of relationships that have existed very well for thousands of years, without the interference of humans. These sharks cruise around and between the scuba divers, knowing that the clumsy humans pose no threat to them. And, despite the thrill of being so close to such a powerful and capable animal, the divers are not concerned themselves. Remaining calm and avoiding any behaviour that resembles a distressed fish, they can easily avoid unwanted attention from the sharks. In this underwater world, scuba divers could possibly distract fish long enough for the sharks to ambush a meal. Or the scuba divers might be spearing invasive lion fish, as is often done here, and the sharks will be able to snatch an injured fish from the spear. Sharks are a breath takingly beautiful part of this underwater domain and scuba divers usually delight in the appearance of curious sharks like these. Their behaviour here shows that there is little reason to fear the sharks and even less reason to want them harmed or eradicated.

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